In soccer host city, Russian doctors battle surge

Doctors battling record numbers of COVID-19 deaths in St. Petersburg are watching with unease as soccer fans gather there for the Euro 2020 games it's hosting.

Russia's second city reported more than 100 deaths a day this week.

The soccer matches aren't helping, says Alexei Dmitriev.

"As a doctor, I am of course against the holding of any mass events. No matter what security measures are in place, there will still be contact and cases of infection. Of course, we expect a surge in patients after such mass events are held."

Authorities blame low vaccine uptake and the highly contagious Delta variant for the rising infections.

COVID patient Alexander Dyachenko decided not to have the shot.

"Now I understand the gravity of what's happening to me, looking back I am trying to understand if my decision not to be vaccinated was right. To be honest I don't know. I used to think it was better to get sick than to be vaccinated. There are many rumors, a lot of speculation, we are not all specialists, we are impressionable people so the fear comes first. I thought I had the right to get sick if I was going to. I'd easily recover because I do sports, I have good immunity, I'm quite a young man... My personal experience didn't bear that out."

Finnish football fans returning from Russia after Euro 2020 matches have caused a spike in cases back home, Finnish health authorities said.

Some restrictions have been imposed in St Petersburg, including a 50% limit on stadium capacity and a requirement that fans wear masks.

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