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Russia's Coronavirus Cases Pass 730K as Moscow Lifts Mask Requirement

Russia is the world's fourth most-affected country in terms of infections, behind the U.S., Brazil and India. Alexander Avilov / Moskva News Agency

Russia confirmed 6,537 new coronavirus infections Monday, bringing the country’s official number of cases to 733,699.

Over the past 24 hours 104 people have died, bringing the total toll to 11,439 — a rate considerably lower than in many other countries hit hard by the pandemic.

A total of 2,960 people recovered over the last 24 hours, bringing the overall number of recoveries to 504,021.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Russia as of July 13. MT

Starting July 13, Moscow will no longer require people to wear masks outdoors as the number of new coronavirus cases has dwindled in the Russian capital in recent weeks.

Moscow lifted restrictions including compulsory travel passes on June 8, a move welcomed by residents who rushed out to enjoy the streets and parks.

Many other regions lifted lockdown restrictions ahead of a July 1 national vote despite the pandemic.   

Critics have cast doubt on Russia's low official mortality rate and accused authorities of under-reporting to play down the scale of the crisis.

Russia attributes its lower virus death figures to mass testing which has identified many cases with mild or no coronavirus symptoms. 

The Health Ministry is now adjusting how it reports numbers to include all deaths believed to be related to the virus even if the direct cause of death was another condition or the patient tested negative.

Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, a liberal politician known for his outspoken comments, said Russia's health system requires more funds and modernization in many regions.

"Medicine is significantly underfunded even according to the current norms and also it needs a serious overhaul," Kudrin, who heads the Audit Chamber that examines government spending, said in an interview with the state-run TASS state news agency.

"We will carry out a check and show these figures," he added.

Nevertheless the economist said Russia "is not doing a bad job with the pandemic," crediting the role of the military, which has built emergency facilities.

AFP contributed reporting to this article.

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