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Russia this weekend recorded a four-month high in the number of new Covid-19 cases, with the mayor of Moscow saying restrictions would be tightened with some businesses closed and restaurants limited to take-out orders.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 14,723 in data released Sunday, the largest increase reported since February 13, according to the federal coronavirus task force. Cases rose 50% last week.

As of Sunday, 357 deaths were recorded, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 126,430. More than 5 million Russians have contracted the disease.

Authorities in Moscow, the hardest-hit region, have tightened anti-pandemic measures amid a growing number of cases, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in a TV interview.

Moscow has seen a significant increase in coronavirus cases for several days – in the past 24 hours, authorities in the capital have seen 6,701 cases, the highest number since December 2020.

A passenger cruising on the Moskva River in Moscow adjusts her face mask © Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP via Getty Images

“We are seeing how Covid-19 is progressing aggressively,” he told Rossiya-1. “In addition, we are seeing that the severity of the disease is worsening, and there are a lot of Moscow residents, who are in intensive care units and on pulmonary ventilators.”

Sobyanin said businesses that do not normally work on weekends must remain closed next week while continuing to pay employees.

Food courts and children’s play areas in shopping malls are also to close for a week from Sunday, and restaurants and bars are to limit their take-out service from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Russia’s vaccination campaign has reached 18 million doses, as Vladimir Putin, the country’s president, called for a higher jab rate.

People “are wary of all these procedures,” he said. “It’s a common occurrence.”

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