New Russian Cases Dip Below 9,000 for First Time Since May 1

A medical worker puts on protective gear on April 21 to assist coronavirus patients at the intensive care unit of Vinogradov City Clinical Hospital in Moscow. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

MOSCOW (AFP) — Russia said Monday that fewer than 9,000 new coronavirus cases had been recorded for the first time since early May as anti-virus restrictions ease and officials say the situation is stabilizing.

Health officials reported 8,926 new infections in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s total to 290,678, the second-highest in the world after the United States.

It was the lowest number of new virus cases since May 1, when Russia announced 7,933 cases.

Russia’s consumer health watchdog chief Anna Popova said this weekend that the growth in new cases was slowing and the country has “moved toward the level of stability that we’ve all been waiting for.” 

Russia began easing nationwide lockdown restrictions last week and said its national football league would restart in late June.

Health officials announced 91 new deaths, down from Saturday’s figure of 119, which was the highest daily toll yet. 

Russia’s total fatalities stand at 2,722, a rate considerably lower than in many other countries hit hard by the pandemic.

Critics have cast doubt on Russia’s low official mortality rate, accusing authorities of underreporting to play down the scale of the crisis.

Russian health officials say one of the reasons the count is lower is that only deaths directly caused by the virus are being included. Deaths attributed to pneumonia, for example, a frequent result of Covid-19, are not.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova over the weekend denied manipulation of numbers, saying hospitals had a financial interest in identifying infections because they are allocated more money to treat coronavirus patients.

Authorities say that since the virus came late to Russia, there was more time to prepare hospital beds and launch wide-scale testing to slow the spread.

© Agence France-Presse

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