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Russia’s #COVID_19 death toll could be 70 per cent higher than official figure. #FT

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Tuesday, 12 May, 2020, 19:35
Russia’s #COVID_19 death toll could be 70 per cent higher than official figure. #FT

Russia’s national death toll from coronavirus could be 70 per cent higher than the government’s official data show, as the Kremlin struggles to curb the spread of Covid-19 despite a seven-week long lockdown.The Financial Times’ analysis of all-cause mortality data in Moscow, the capital, and St Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, found 2,073 more deaths in April relative to the historical average of the previous five years.Official Covid deaths in the two cities came to just 629 for the same period, leaving 1,444 deaths in excess of normal mortality levels unaccounted for. If added to the reported national figure of 2,009 Covid deaths as of Monday morning, this would mean a 72 per cent increase in Russia’s national death toll.Russia has made it illegal to publish or discuss “fake news” about the pandemic in the country, a decision that critics say could be used to muzzle independent media reports that contradict the government’s official statements.President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly told citizens that the pandemic is “under control”, despite claims from a doctors’ association linked to opposition activists that the government has covered up the scale of the medical crisis.