MOSCOW, May 17. /TASS/. Doctors at Russian hospitals are not trying to conceal data on COVID-19 cases and are instead interested in high performance in battling the infection for financial reasons, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova told Vesti Nedeli program on Rossiya-1 TV channel on Sunday.
"One should not even think that our doctors are trying to somehow conceal [the disease caused by] COVID. This is not about our doctors and I can definitely say that," Golikova stressed.
The deputy prime minister explained that the money for COVID-19 treatment is channeled from the Compulsory Medical Insurance fund. Since the start of the pandemic, the tariffs were revised in Russia and doctors receive higher salaries for treating COVID-19 patients, she explained.
"In economic terms, any hospital should be interested in diagnosing more COVID-19 cases," Golikova said.
She also noted that the official mortality rate for April would be made public only in late May, while the current statistics is provided by the tax service based on the data of civil registry offices.
Earlier, UK newspaper Financial Times (FT) published an article, claiming that Russia deliberately underreported the number of novel coronavirus deaths on its territory. The Financial Times wrote that "Russia’s national death toll from coronavirus could be 70% higher than the government’s official data show."
Golikova earlier commented on the report, saying that Moscow did not manipulate data on the coronavirus death toll, which was indeed 7.6-fold lower than the average global rate.
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 4.5 mln people have been infected worldwide and more than 303,000 deaths have been reported.
To date, a total of 281,752 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia, with 67,373 patients having recovered from the virus. Russia’s latest data indicates 2,631 fatalities nationwide. Earlier, the Russian government set up an Internet hotline to keep the public updated on the coronavirus situation.