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RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

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Russia Shortens Isolation Period For Contact With COVID-19, Amid Spike In Cases.

Russian health authorities have shortened the required isolation period for people who come in contact with COVID-19 patients from 14 days to seven.

The rule change only applies to those who had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, not those with a confirmed infection.

RFE/RL's Coverage Of COVID-19

Features and analysis, videos, and infographics explore how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the countries in our region.

People who test positive are still required to isolate for 14 days and test for the virus on day 10 or 11.

Daily new infections in Russia have been rising sharply for the past two weeks, increasing more than four-fold -- from about 15,000 on January 10 to 67,809 on January 25, the highest daily tally in the pandemic.

Health Minister Mikhail Murashko says despite the rise in cases no significant increase in hospitalizations has been seen.

According to Anna Popova, head of Russia's public health-care watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, 52 percent of all new infections are being registered in Moscow, the Moscow region, and St. Petersburg.

The surge in Moscow, which reported nearly 19,000 new cases on January 25, has put a strain on the city’s outpatient clinics. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that the influx of patients to outpatient facilities has grown four-fold.

Officials have warned that the current surge is the country’s biggest yet but haven’t announced any major restrictions to stem it.

In all, Russia's state coronavirus task force has reported over 11.2 million confirmed cases and 327,448 deaths, the largest death toll in Europe. Russia’s state statistics agency, which uses broader counting criteria, puts the overall number of virus-linked deaths between April 2020 and October 2021 at more than 625,000.

Russia was the first country to approve and roll out a domestically developed coronavirus vaccine, but only about half of its population of 146 million people has been fully vaccinated.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and dpa

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