Russian COVID cases hit record daily high

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Russia has reported a record 21,983 new coronavirus infections as Moscow prepares to close restaurants and bars overnight in an effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite a recent surge, Russian authorities have resisted imposing lockdown restrictions as they did earlier this year, stressing instead the importance of hygiene, social distancing and bringing in targeted measures in certain regions.

Moscow, which on Friday reported 5974 new cases in the past 24 hours, has ordered bars, restaurants and nightclubs to close between 11pm and 6am from Friday until mid-January. Officials warned of raids and fines for establishments that do not comply.

The sprawling city of nearly 13 million has also moved university and college students to online learning, while it was recommended that school children, already learning from home, keep their travel to a minimum.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has said he hoped Moscow would not have to impose any additional restrictions, but that it could do so if the situation worsened.

Russia's coronavirus taskforce on Friday reported 411 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, raising the official death toll to 32,443.

With 1,880,551 infections since the start of the pandemic, Russia has the world's fifth largest number of cases behind the United States, India, Brazil and France.