Coronavirus: Russia reports 101 medic deaths

Members of a Russian team sanitize a hospice for elderly people to contain the spread of COVID-19, in Albino, Italy on March 28, 2020. (AP)

Russia said Tuesday that at least 101 medics have died from coronavirus in the first such official announcement, while an online tally compiled by doctors gives a far higher figure.

"Last Friday 101 people were on the confirmed list," senior health ministry official Lyudmila Letnikova told lawmakers, Interfax news agency reported.

The head of the ministry's public health department told the parliamentary health committee that the ministry keeps a register of deaths of medical personnel, but this is the first time a figure has been given publicly.

Letnikova said the ministry had asked Russian regions to provide death counts.

The official number is much lower however than the total on an online list compiled by doctors from data sent in by colleagues, which has 293 names.

Doctor Irina Barkhatova wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) is seen in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), ECMO Centre of the City Clinical Hospital Number 52 in Moscow, Russia April 28, 2020. (Reuters)

Doctor Irina Barkhatova wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) is seen in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), ECMO Centre of the City Clinical Hospital Number 52 in Moscow, Russia April 28, 2020. (Reuters)

The "Remembrance List" site was launched in April by medics including cardiologist Alexei Erlikh, who works at a Moscow state hospital.

The creators of the list said their aim was to provide reliable information on deaths of health workers, fearing that the authorities would not do so.

When the online list appeared, the health ministry did not respond to an AFP request for the number of coronavirus casualties among health personnel.

The independent news site Mediazona earlier this month checked the Remembrance List and excluded some medics who were not practicing at the time of their deaths or worked in other ex-Soviet states. It confirmed 186 deaths.

Russia has reported a total of 3,807 deaths from 362,342 COVID-19 cases, far fewer than many other countries with lower numbers of cases, prompting questions over whether the authorities are accurately recording deaths from the virus.

Government officials have cited reasons that include a mass testing campaign that reportedly picked up many mild or symptom-free cases, and the recording of cause of death based on autopsies.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 26 May 2020 KSA 22:23 - GMT 19:23
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