MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the government to prepare an action plan within the next week to fight the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Putin said it was important to maintain supplies of drugs, oxygen and hospital beds.
“First of all, it is necessary to constantly monitor the effectiveness of tests and vaccines, to use clear algorithms to reduce the spread of infection,” he told an investment forum on Tuesday.
Russia suffered its deadliest month for COVID-19 in October, before the emergence of the new Omicron strain, and was forced to impose a week-long nationwide workplace shutdown at the start of November.
Cases and deaths have retreated from their peaks but remain high. On Tuesday the coronavirus task force reported 33,860 new cases and 1,209 deaths in the previous 24 hours.
Russia has yet to report a case of the Omicron variant. The country has recorded more than 9.6 million COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic, and 275,193 deaths in total.
Puin said the new strain had called into question the prospects for global economic recovery and underlined the importance of mutual recognition of vaccines and vaccination certificates.
Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is still awaiting approval by the World Health Organization.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Tom Balforth; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Mark Trevelyan, Editing by Angus MacSwan)