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Russian lawmaker expects explanation following Financial Times article on COVID death toll

The Financial Times newspaper reported earlier that Russia’s actual coronavirus death toll is 70% higher than official statistics

MOSCOW, May 12. /TASS/. The Financial Times newspaper needs to clarify the data on which its conclusion about Russia’s actual coronavirus death toll being 70% higher than official statistics is based, First Deputy Head of the United Russia faction in the Russian State Duma (the lower house of parliament) Adalbi Shkhagoshev told TASS on Tuesday.

"The Financial Times newspaper needs to disclose the source of this information," said Shkhagoshev, who is a member of the State Duma commission on investigating foreign interference in Russia’s domestic affairs. He noted that the article was "fake news of a global scale," adding that it could be a planted article "given that Russia is on a positive track."

"We may have to respond to such groundless allegations and fake news, we may take some measures if there is no retraction," the senior lawmaker emphasized, noting that there were government officials among Russia’s coronavirus patients and no attempts were being made to hide that information.

The London-based Financial Times newspaper wrote earlier that "Russia’s national death toll from coronavirus could be 70% higher than the government’s official data show." World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Russia Melita Vujnovic, in turn, told the Rossiya-24 TV channel that there was no evidence proving that Russian authorities were trying to hide the actual coronavirus death toll.

Coronavirus pandemic

In late December 2019, Chinese officials notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, in central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus — named COVID-19 by the WHO — have been reported in every corner of the globe, including Russia.

On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. According to the latest statistics, over 4,269,000 people have been infected worldwide and more than 287,000 deaths have been reported. In addition, so far, over 1,534,000 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.

To date, a total of 232,243 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia, with 43,512 patients having recovered from the virus. Russia’s latest data indicates 2,116 fatalities nationwide. Earlier, the Russian government set up an Internet hotline to keep the public updated on the coronavirus situation.