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COVID-19 virus cases spike in Russian Euro host city

Russian health authorities said Tuesday that coronavirus cases in Saint Petersburg were on the rise with days to go before the city co-hosts the postponed Euro 2020 football championship. 

Authorities in Russia’s second city have set up additional hospital beds while assuring the spike in cases was due to a “cyclical” phenomenon. 

For the past month, the city recorded an average of 700 cases a day, but the number of daily infections has exceeded 800 for the last two weeks, according to a government tally. 

The Health Committee of Russia’s second city said Tuesday that coronavirus cases were “on the rise”.

“The past week has shown that we recorded an increase in Covid-19 infections,” the city’s governor Alexander Beglov said in a radio interview on Monday. 

“It is connected to the cyclical nature of the activity of the virus,” he said, adding that his team was taking “all the necessary measures”. 

Also on Tuesday, local authorities said that a hospital for veterans with some 876 beds will be converted to a coronavirus ward. It will open its doors to patients by the end of the week. 

In late May, another temporary hospital for coronavirus patients was reopened in Saint Petersburg after being shut since February.

The former imperial capital will host seven Euro matches—including a quarter-final—in June and July after the tournament was postponed for a year due to the pandemic.

Earlier in June, the city hosted the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum, which despite being smaller than in previous years brought together thousands of participants.

By number of virus cases, Saint Petersburg is the second-most affected city in Russia, surpassed only by the capital Moscow.

Russia imposed a strict lockdown when the pandemic first swept across the country last spring, but authorities lifted most virus measures within several months, opting to protect the struggling economy.

They also pinned hopes on Russia’s coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, which was registered in August.

But while Russia’s domestic vaccination campaign started in early December ahead of most countries, the country has struggled to innoculate its citizens.

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