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World News

City of Moscow revises up its coronavirus death toll for April after criticism

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The city of Moscow has issued a revised version of its coronavirus death toll for April after criticism of its initial figures, more than doubling the original tally by using what it said was an alternative counting method.

FILE PHOTO: Vehicles spray disinfectant while sanitizing a road amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Moscow, Russia May 28, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

The city initially reported 636 coronavirus-related deaths for April, a figure many times lower than other comparable cities with similar outbreaks. The disparity raised questions among critics, media and the relatives of some of the deceased.

In its revised version, Moscow’s Health Department said in a statement that the toll was 1,561 when it included 756 people diagnosed with the coronavirus who died of other causes and 169 people suspected of having the virus despite testing negative.

Such a counting method would take into account “even controversial, questionable cases,” it said late on Thursday. Under the revised count, the city’s death rate from the virus was between 1.4% and 2.8%.

That would still make the Russian capital’s coronavirus death rate much lower than death rates reported in cities such as New York and London, it said.

The new counting method has not yet been used to revise the official death toll for Moscow or Russia.

Moscow city authorities, the Kremlin and government officials have previously defended the integrity of Russian coronavirus data, saying statistics are rigorously based on post-mortems and are more accurate than in other countries.

Russia has reported the third highest number of coronavirus cases in the world after the United States and Brazil.

The tally on Friday rose to 387,623 after officials reported 8,572 new infections and 232 deaths, a record daily rise. The official overall death toll is 4,374.

Data published this month showed the total number of deaths registered in the capital rose sharply in April compared with the same month last year.

Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Gleb Stolyarov; editing by Andrew Osborn and Timothy Heritage

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