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Moscow reports a sharp rise in ‘excess’ April deaths as Covid-19 continues to spread in Russia

Moscow reports a sharp rise in ‘excess’ April deaths as Covid-19 continues to spread in Russia
As the coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of abating, grim April statistics from Russia's capital show an 18% rise in deaths from the same month last year, and a 10% increase compared to the corresponding period in 2018.

The preliminary figures from Moscow's Civil Registry Office show that 11,846 people died in April 2020, compared to 10,005 twelve months previously, and 10,825 the year before that. The increase in deaths comes as Russia's infection numbers continue to grow, and the country has become the third-most affected nation on Earth overall. However, per capita, its total of Covid-19 cases is far lower than those of other major European countries like Britain, Italy and France. 

The Russian capital has borne the brunt of the pandemic’s impact, with the latest data showing that around two-thirds (137,546) of Russia's 221,344 confirmed cases are located in the Moscow area. 

After the deadliest April in at least a decade, some have suggested that Russia's comparatively low number of recorded coronavirus-attributed deaths that month might not tell the whole story. With each country counting Covid-19 fatalities differently, Russia's numbers have come under scrutiny for possible underreporting. 

Nevertheless, if every single excess death in Moscow, and across the country, was eventually attributed to Covid-19, Russia's fatality rate would still be very low in comparison to other European countries, assuming the situation is the same nationwide. As it currently stands, Russia has 14 official coronavirus deaths per million people, considerably fewer than in Spain (569), Britain (469), and Italy (505).

In the latter country, a report published by the national statistics bureau ISTAT showed that nationwide deaths were up 39% since the start of the pandemic, with just over half the "excess" being attributed to coronavirus. 

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While most areas of Russia are not reporting detailed fatality statistics, the Chelyabinsk Region has published two separate figures online: deaths caused by Covid-19, and deaths of people who tested positive but died from an underlying disease. As of Monday morning, the numbers stand at four and eight respectively. In some other European states, all 12 of these deaths would be considered to have been caused by coronavirus.  

Although April 2020 saw an increase in Moscow’s fatalities, it was certainly not the worst month on record. The new figures for growth in death rates pale in comparison to July and August 2010, when 10,000 excess deaths were recorded due to a heatwave and wildfires.

As of Monday morning, Russia has 2,009 deaths officially attributed to the virus.  

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