Russian health experts cite rise in virus deaths, Kremlin denies

Russian health experts: Real number of dead 3 times higher than reported.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin

Israel Hayom reported that Russian state authorities on Saturday noted a record number of coronavirus deaths after 119 people succumbed to the virus over the past 24 hours. Meanwhile, stats from the government center for the war with COVID-19 claimed that while the number of dead has increased, the amount of new infections have seen a slight drop-off and currently stands at 9,200 people over the past day.

Despite emerging optimism coming with the reported decline in infection rates, Russia's health system is beginning to display signs of collapse. Eight new coronavirus hospitals opened this week, but this number is still far from enough to handle the highest amount of hospitalized patients in the world and second overall just behind the US.

In efforts to ease the burden, Russia has established 16 specialized disease treatment centers capable of housing just under 1,600 patients at a given moment - a fraction of the average daily infections. To relieve the severe workload and resentment among the country's doctors and nurses, Russia's President Vladimir Putin recently announced a special monetary bonus for hospital staff.

In the meantime, controversy has been brewing surrounding Russia's official stats regarding the amount of virus cases and national death toll. Data revealed by the Moscow City Council this week in an obscure document that was picked up and published by The New York Times reveals a completely different picture of virus-related deaths than official Kremlin reports. Leaked figures indicate that nearly 2,000 individuals died in Moscow this year alone — a significant increase from the average over the previous decade. Based on the data, health experts estimate that approximately 1,700 individuals have perished from the virus; a far cry of the Kremlin's official report of just 642 virus-related deaths.

Dr. Tatiana Mikhailova, a senior researcher at the Moscow Presidential Academy of Economics and Administration, told the NYT that the mortality rate in Moscow was much higher than the average for April over the past decade. "One thing is clear: The number of coronavirus victims is at least three times the official number provided by the state," she added.

In a televised interview given by Putin alongside Anna Popova, head of the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing, Popova stated that the virus-related death toll in Russia was among the lowest in the world. State sponsored media outlets continued to view Russia's virus response as superior to the West. That mood was reflected Friday in Putin's decision to reopen the Kremlin to visits by Russian citizens and restore industry and commerce to full activity, limiting restrictions to local authorities. Meanwhile, more than 11,000 Russians were reportedly infected in the last day alone.