June 10, 2020 / 11:49 AM / a month ago

Moscow raises May coronavirus death toll by 3,365

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Moscow’s health department said 5,260 people died from the novel coronavirus in the city in May, far higher than the 1,895 deaths reported by Russia’s coronavirus crisis response centre over the course of that month.

“COVID-19 as a main or an accompanying cause of death was registered in 5,260 cases,” the Moscow health department said in a statement on its website.

It said the difference of 3,365 between the previous death toll and the new one was down to changes made by Russia’s health ministry in its approach to counting coronavirus deaths.

“New recommendations allowed us to improve the calculation of cases where COVID was the main cause of the death and of those where it became, with a high degree of probability, a catalyst...for other illnesses,” the department said.

Russia has the third highest coronavirus case tally in the world at 493,657, but its relatively low death toll of 6,358 has been met with accusations of underreporting deaths from the respiratory disease.

Russia says it has a high number of confirmed infections due to its widespread and comprehensive testing regime. It says more than 13.5 million tests have been performed.

Moscow, the epicentre of Russia’s outbreak and its hardest-hit area, previously doubled its death toll in April, but continues to push ahead with easing coronavirus restrictions.

St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city, reported only 171 coronavirus deaths in May but the statistics showed around 1,500 excess deaths last month, a mortality rate 32% higher than in the same period a year earlier.

Moscow’s May mortality rate was 57% higher than in the same period last year, according to the city’s health department.

Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov and Maria Tsvetkova; Writing by Alexander Marrow and Maria Tsvetkova; Editing by Jon Boyle/Mark Heinrich

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