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Russia records over 50,000 excess deaths in October as government coronavirus HQ says just 7,344 people died of Covid-19

Russia records over 50,000 excess deaths in October as government coronavirus HQ says just 7,344 people died of Covid-19
Russia registered 205,456 deaths in October, a mortality rate increase of more than 30 percent when compared to 2019, according to official statistics. The numbers bring a new focus on this year's 'excess death' toll.

The growing number of fatalities comes as Russia continues to battle with the Covid-19 pandemic, with coronavirus-related deaths still on the rise.

On Thursday, the Federal State Statistics Service, Rosstat, released the figures for October 2020, revealing over 50,000 excess deaths. Fatalities are over a third higher than the average of 154,793 monthly deaths seen in the last five Octobers. It's important to note that it doesn't necessarily follow that  all can be ascribed to the pandemic or the virus itself.

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While various Russian government agencies have released their own mortality figures, excess deaths are seen by many as a more accurate way of measuring the impact of Covid-19. The 50,000 number is significantly higher than that of the country’s official coronavirus headquarters/HQ, which reported 7,344 deaths in October. Rosstat, which counts in a different manner, said that 22,571 people died with Covid-19 that month, and the virus was confirmed to be a leading cause in just 11,630. Another 1,711 deaths were registered with coronavirus as a concomitant disease, with 6,964 Covid-positive people dying of something else.

Even when combining all the Covid-19 death categories presented by Rosstat, the 22,571 fatalities fall far short of the 50,000 excess mortality figure. While not all of the excess deaths can be directly chalked up to the coronavirus, many are the consequence of an overburdened healthcare system, which causes planned surgeries to be postponed as emergency wards struggle to cope.

Earlier this month, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the government has repeatedly explained that there are different methodologies for calculating and determining the cause of death, highlighting the fact that President Vladimir Putin receives all the possible figures.

“I can only say that the president clearly receives all the full information about indicators and diseases, medical services, bed occupancy by region, and mortality,” he told reporters.

Russia is not alone in having an official death total that’s lower than its excess deaths. According to the model from the UK-based newspaper the Financial Times, Britain’s estimated excess death toll on December 1 reached 80,100. However, the official government total for that day was just 59,051, and 75,000 people had Covid-19 named on their death certificate.

As of December 11, Russia’s coronavirus HQ has the country's official death toll at 45,893, with 2,597,711 confirmed cases. While Russia has the fourth most cases of Covid-19 in the world, its official per capita death figures are far better than most comparable nations.

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