Russia at the weekend recorded a four-month high in the number of new Covid-19 cases, as Moscow’s mayor said restrictions would be tightened with some businesses closed and restaurants limited to takeaway orders.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 14,723 in data published on Sunday, the biggest increase reported since February 13, according to the federal coronavirus task force. Cases have grown 50 per cent in the past week.

There were 357 deaths recorded on Sunday, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 126,430. More than 5m Russians have contracted the disease.

Authorities in Moscow, the hardest-hit region, tightened anti-pandemic measures amid a growing number of cases, mayor Sergey Sobyanin said in a television interview.

Moscow has seen a significant surge in coronavirus cases for several days – over the past 24 hours officials in the capital saw 6,701 cases, the highest number since December 2020.

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

“We see how Covid-19 is aggressively advancing,” he told Rossiya-1. “Moreover, we see that the gravity of the disease is worsening, and there are a lot of Moscow residents, who are in intensive care units and on lung ventilators.”

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

Food courts and children’s play areas in shopping centres also are to close for a week beginning Sunday, and restaurants and bars must limit their service to takeout from 11pm to 6am.

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

People “are wary of all such procedures,” he said. “This is a common occurrence.”

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