MOSCOW - Russia will fully reopen schools across the country from next week and the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak may have passed its peak, authorities said on Friday, as the national case tally passed the 3.5 million mark.
Teenage schoolchildren were switched to remote, online learning in October as part of a set of targeted restrictions to curb the spread of the virus that stopped well short of a stringent lockdown like Russia imposed in spring.
All schools are now reopening apart from 10 of them that have been specially quarantined, Education Minister Sergei Kravtsov was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.
Natalya Pshenichnaya, an official at the Rospotrebnadzor consumer watchdog, said the epidemic appeared to be stabilizing overall despite localized discrepancies.
"...We can assume that the infection peak has already passed," she was quoted as saying by Interfax.
Authorities have detected around 1,500 mutations of the coronavirus since the pandemic began, Anna Popova, Rospotrebnadzor's head, was quoted as saying.
Russia, which has the world's fourth-highest number of COVID-19 cases, plans to begin mass vaccinations next week.
The country has two registered vaccines and is expected to approve a third one in the next several days, according to Popova.
Earlier on Friday, authorities confirmed 24,715 new infections in the last 24 hours. Officials also reported 555 new deaths, taking the official death toll to 64,495.
FROM THE ARCHIVES