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Russia releases worst pandemic death numbers to date

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Russia’s daily COVID-19 deaths hit a new record of 819 on Saturday, a day after Moscow’s health department reported the highest number of monthly deaths in the city since the start of the pandemic.

Russia’s daily coronavirus deaths are on the rise after infections peaked in July. Authorities blame the infectious Delta variant and a slow vaccination rate.

Moscow said late on Friday that the mortality rate in the city in July was 70% higher than before the pandemic in 2019 and 60% higher than in the same month last year.

A total of 17,237 deaths in Moscow in July is the highest monthly death toll since the pandemic began. Most of the excess deaths were caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the Moscow health department said.

“The dynamics is linked to the sharp rise of infections due to the spread of a new strain of the coronavirus in June as well as abnormally hot weather in the city in recent months,” said the department, adding that high temperatures made COVID-19 patients feel even worse.

Russia’s official total coronavirus death toll stands at 169,683. Rosstat, the government statistics agency, keeps a separate count from the pandemic task force and says it recorded around 315,000 deaths related to COVID-19 between last April and June this year.

Russia reported around 463,000 excess deaths from April 2020 to June this year, according to Reuters calculations based on the latest Rosstat data. Some epidemiologists say excess deaths are the best way to measure the real death toll from COVID-19.

Russia reported 22,144 new coronavirus infections on Saturday. Daily cases have so far declined in August after the July peak.

Photo: People wearing protective face masks walk in front of Russian flag graffiti in Moscow, Russia. EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV