Moscow extends school holiday amid rise in coronavirus infections in Russia

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A woman walks along a street during snowfall in Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Moscow will extend the school holiday by one week until Jan. 17 in hopes of stabilising the situation regarding new coronavirus infections and avoid new COVID-19-related restrictions, the Russian capital's mayor said on Tuesday.

Russia, which launched a voluntary vaccination programme with the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine earlier this month, has resisted imposing a strict lockdown as it did early this year, relying on targeted measures instead.

The longer school holidays in Moscow, a city of nearly 13 million, "will stabilise the incidence of the COVID-19 at a lower level than at present," Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in a statement.

"This means we would be able to avoid introducing new, highly undesirable restrictions in January," he added.

Russia reported 27,002 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, including 5,641 in Moscow, taking the total to 3,105,037 since the pandemic began.

Authorities also reported 562 deaths in the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 55,827.

(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov and Polina Devitt; writing by Tom Balmforth and Polina Devitt; editing by Louise Heavens and Jonathan Oatis)