Moscow's Covid-19 cases three times the official tally, says mayor

Russia surged up the global rankings with the largest single-day rise making it the fifth hardest-hit country in the world on Thursday

A man shows his digital ID to a police officer in downtown Moscow on May 6, 2020, amid the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19.  / AFP / Alexander NEMENOV
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Moscow has nearly 300,000 coronavirus cases, nearly triple the number officially reported, the city’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Thursday.

Officially the city has just 92,676 cases of the novel coronavirus and the nationwide tally is at 177,160. However, Mr Sobyanin told the Tass news agency that the real number is more than three times this tally.

The number of cases nationally surged by 11,231 in the 24 hours to noon on Thursday in the largest single-day rise put Russia at number five on the list of hardest-hit countries by cases. Russia has now officially overtaken both France and Germany in terms of confirmed cases.

More than half of all cases and deaths are in Moscow, the epicentre of Russia's outbreak, which on Thursday reported a record overnight increase of 6,703 new cases.

Russia's official death toll, which remains far lower than in many countries, rose to 1,625 after 88 people died overnight, the task force said.

Coronavirus around the world 

Mr Sobyanin said on Wednesday that confirmed cases were rising in the capital because authorities had sharply increased testing and that the situation had actually somewhat stabilised.

Russia says it has carried out more than 4.8 million coronavirus tests.

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday backed a plan put forward by Mr Sobyanin to gradually begin lifting some lockdown restrictions after May 12, allowing industrial facilities to begin working.

Moscow and other Russian regions are in their sixth week of a lockdown.

The capital's residents have been told to stay at home except in certain circumstances such as going out to buy food and medicine. They must obtain a digital permit to travel anywhere by public or private transport.

Russia's relatively low death rate has prompted some Kremlin critics to suggest the authorities may be covering up the real toll of the outbreak by failing to correctly identify coronavirus deaths as such.

The authorities deny allegations they are covering up the extend of the virus, pointing out that Russia's outbreak began later than in many other countries and this allowed it to better prepare for the pandemic.

Russia now has the fifth-largest number of cases in the world, according to a tally kept by the John Hopkins University in the United States.