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Putin: Russia's Rise in Coronavirus Deaths Due to Improved Methodology

Russia confirmed a record 317 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday. Sergei Karpukhin / TASS

Coronavirus deaths are on the rise in Russia partly because of improved cause-of-death methodology, President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.

Russia’s national coronavirus information center has confirmed a total of 25,242 Covid-19 deaths after reporting record daily fatalities of over 200 in 10 of the last 15 days. By comparison, daily Covid-19 deaths crossed the 200 mark only three times between the start of Russia’s outbreak in March and early October.

“Unfortunately, our [Covid-19] mortality rate has increased compared to spring,” Putin said at a meeting with industrialists and entrepreneurs. 

“But experts say that this is also because they have begun identifying the causes of death better and more rigorously,” he said, explaining the rise in coronavirus deaths.

Russia’s coronavirus information center confirmed 290 Covid-19 deaths Thursday, one day after it reported a record of 317 deaths. 

Moscow, the epicenter of Russia’s outbreak, has confirmed a record 66 deaths per day for two consecutive days.

Monthly statistics published by Russia’s state statistics agency Rosstat place the real number of coronavirus deaths at 45,663 between April and August, the latest available month, with a mortality ratio of 4.6% against the global rate of 3-4%. 

Alexei Raksha, a demographic forecaster who left Rosstat this summer after criticizing the information center’s figures, told Bloomberg this week that Russia’s daily mortality rates are even more undercounted and need to be “multiplied by three.”

“Overall mortality has fallen by almost half compared to spring, which is after all the main indicator of the state of the health system as a whole,” Putin said at Wednesday’s meeting. 

Monthly statistics indicate that coronavirus deaths peaked at around 12,500 in May and June, then decreased to 7,500 in August, the latest available month.

Russia confirmed 15,971 new Covid-19 cases Thursday, bringing the total caseload in the world’s fourth most-affected country to more than 1.46 million.

Putin also pledged to avoid returning to strict lockdown measures like those Russia imposed in spring despite the record-setting rise in new Covid-19 cases over the past week. Authorities have introduced targeted measures at what they deem to be coronavirus hotspots to slow the spread of the disease.

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