Moscow health authorities revised the city’s coronavirus death toll for April, revealing that more than double the number of people died compared to previously reported.
Officials increased the documented number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 to 1,561 from 636.
CNN and other media reported in mid-May that Moscow saw a peak in mortality in April, adding around 1,800 deaths in excess of the previous year’s averages.
The official number of Covid-19 deaths in Russia has been relatively low compared to countries with a similar number of overall infections, and observers have questioned official counting methods that allow for the attribution of deaths in patients who tested positive for coronavirus to other causes such as terminal diseases and other conditions.
In the report, the city’s health department said it had revised the toll according to the new counting guidelines and also included the most questionable cases in its overall figures.
The report reveals that in addition to what was initially reported 636 victims, another 756 people who tested positive for coronavirus died in April. Their deaths were originally attributed to other causes, but for some “the virus has become the catalyst for the main condition” and its lethal complications, the report says.
Also added the authorities 169 toll deaths to include people who tested negative for coronavirus, but for whom coronavirus was established as the leading cause of death through post mortem examination.
Moscow authorities said that even with a revised death toll, the death rate of the Russian capital from Covid-19 remains lower than in other relatively large cities such as London and New York.
City officials and the central government of Russia have warned the public that the numbers for May will be higher.
“The end of April peaked in terms of coronavirus infections and there are around 2-3 weeks between peak infections and mortality [spikes]”, Says the report, adding that the May issues will also be studied and made public.
The regions of Russia have mostly followed Moscow’s example in its response to the pandemic and in counting cases, so reviewing the counting method can lead to an increase in the death toll across the country.
Some regions reported “double statistics”, releasing a number of deaths in coronavirus positive patients who have been officially attributed to other causes in national numbers.
Officials in Dagestan, one of the most affected areas in Russia, previously publicly stated that their overall death toll was much higher than what is reflected in federal statistics.