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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting on education via teleconference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, May 21, 2020. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
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Putin says coronavirus situation in Russia has stabilized

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By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV

President Vladimir Putin said Friday the coronavirus outbreak in Russia has begun to abate, creating a positive environment for easing restrictions, as officials defended the country's data on deaths against claims they were being under-reported.

Speaking during a video conference with top officials, Putin pointed at the decreasing number of new infections in Moscow and other regions. “The positive dynamic is not so fast as we would like it to be, sometimes even unstable, but it does exist,” he said.

Russia currently ranks second after the United States in the number of infections with 326,448 cases, including 3,249 deaths.

The Russian leader said a steady drop in new cases sets the stage for further lifting of restrictions, but he also emphasized the need to preserve hospital capacity in case of a new wave of contagion.

Officials have reported to Putin that the influx of COVID-19 patients, particularly those in grave condition, has fallen. Putin noted that the country's hospitals are capable of accommodating over 165,000 coronavirus patients, and they are currently two-thirds occupied.

The COVID-19 mortality rate in Russia has remained remarkably low at about 1%, drawing suspicions in the West that the country was under-reporting its death toll. Russian officials have rejected the claim, saying that the low toll reflected efficient preventative measures and broad testing.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said during the call with Putin that the country's approach to counting COVID-19 deaths is in line with the World Health Organization's guidelines and more precise than in other countries, based on autopsies conducted in all cases.

“Russian illness and mortality statistics, unlike those of other countries, are fully comprehensive and personalized,” she said.

She forecast, however, that the death toll will markedly rise in May, reflecting high numbers of infections in recent weeks.

Sergei Sobyanin, the mayor of Moscow, which accounted for about half of all infections, said the Russian capital has managed to avoid the “worst-case scenario” but also predicted a surge in May deaths.

“It's quite obvious that the number of deaths in May will be significantly higher than in April,” he told Putin. “We were at the peak of contagion in April and early May.”

Moscow’s health department reported earlier this month that 639 people died of COVID-19 in April, saying autopsies proved that the deaths of 60 percent of all those who died and had been infected with the virus were caused by other grave underlying illnesses.

Some experts have questioned the Russian refusal to include all deaths of those who tested positive in the coronavirus toll, suggesting a politically-driven desire to downplay mortality. Russian officials have rejected the claim, saying that the Russian approach is more accurate and is in full conformity with the World Health Organization’s guidelines.

While the daily number of new coronavirus cases in Moscow has dropped from a peak of about 6,700 to under 3,000 now, other hot spots emerged across Russia. They included Dagestan, a mostly Muslim province in the North Caucasus mountains, whose health care system has crumbled under the flow of COVID-19 patients. The surge of infections in Dagestan has prompted the Russian Defense Ministry to deploy field hospitals there.

In the neighboring province of Chechnya, strongman regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov has berated local doctors for complaining about shortages of equipment and protective gear.

On Thursday, Russia's state news agencies reported that Kadyrov has been hospitalized in Moscow after suspectedly contracting the disease. Kadyrov’s office hasn’t responded to an AP request for comment.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov and three Cabinet ministers have been among officials who tested positive for the coronavirus. Mishustin and Culture Minister Olga Lyubimova have convalesced.

On May 11, Putin ordered an end to the nationwide partial economic shutdown he imposed in late March and instructed regional governors to reopen industrial enterprises and other businesses wherever it's possible. The epidemic has badly hurt Russia's economy, already weakened by a drop in global oil prices and Western sanctions, and businessmen have widely deplored state support measures amid the outbreak as bitterly insufficient.

While some of Russia's 85 regions already have eased restrictions, strict lockdown measures have remained in place in Moscow and the surrounding region.

The epidemic has eroded support for Putin, that dropped to 59% in April, the lowest point in more than two decades of his rule, according to the independent Levada Center polling firm.

© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


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Putin says coronavirus situation in Russia has stabilized

If so, that's great news. But information coming from the Russian government, which some say has 'partial' control of media, probably has to be taken as 'partially' factual.

Russia currently ranks second after the United States in the number of infections with 326,448 cases, including 3,249 deaths.

The globe's two nuclear powers. Perhaps if both states had spent less on defense to increase their militaries they could have spent more to have better healthcare. Both nation's general populations continue to pay the costs of their 'elite's' self-serving agendas.

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Obviously the Russians are fudging their mortality figures. It’s hard to have faith in a health system where many of the clinics outside Moscow don’t even have running water.

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Ptownsend

The globe's two nuclear powers.

Sorry if that surprises you, but there are a lot more than two nuclear powers in the world.

If you meant the two biggest ones, correct, but China is catching up rapidly.

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@PTownsend

But information coming from the Russian government, which some say has 'partial' control of media, probably has to be taken as 'partially' factual

@BigYen

Obviously the Russians are fudging their mortality figures

It's bewildering how some people are trying to break into open gates and fail to comprehend one simple thing: when millions of people have smartphones and use Facebook or Twitter (and Russians are very active with these platforms) it's just impossible to hide mortality figures in any considerable numbers.

where many of the clinics outside Moscow don’t even have running water

Very interesting. Can you share your insights? WHO tells a different strory:

https://russkiymir.ru/en/news/272706/

Actually the Russian medical system fared much better then the Western's for one reason: it retains some approach of the old Soviet system, designed to provide health care for all the populace, particularly in case of emergencies. Very different from philosophy of the Western medical system which is basically designed as business, providing medical services for those who can afford them.

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@Asakaze:

Very interesting. Can you share your insights? WHO tells a different strory:

My "insights" are from Russia's Chief Auditor him/herself... in fact it's worse than I posted.

*About one-third of 117,000 medical facilities that were inspected lack running water and more than 40 percent lack central heating, according to the Audit Chamber, the Russian government’s public spending watchdog.Most of the buildings housing medical institutions are in “unsatisfactory sanitary and technical condition,” contributing to their natural dilapidation, the report says of the inspections carried out in January.*

Slightly more than half the buildings don’t have hot water, 35 percent lack sewer systems, and 47 percent aren’t accessible by wheelchairs.

https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-s-chief-auditor-says-one-in-three-hospitals-lack-running-water/30458571.html

As far as the death rates are concerned, what I'm reading is that if someone who dies with Covid-19 has a pre-existing condition, Russia is counting the death as being due to that pre-existing condition, and not to the Covid-19. I disagree with that method and consider it to be fudging the figures, whether it comes from Russia or anywhere else, and I've argued that with Americans on JT. Pre-existing conditions (comorbidities) are usually manageable through medication or other treatment, and a person can live for many years with those illnesses - unless they get Covid-19, which is then the reason for their deaths.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-21/russia-death-toll-count/12269440

As far as Russian vs. Western medical services are concerned, it depends on which Western country you're talking about. Given the Russian Chief Auditor's report quoted above, I'd take the Australian public health system over the Russian any time. The US system vs the Russian? Hmm, not so certain.

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@BigYen

My "insights" are from Russia's Chief Auditor him/herself

Interesting. I wonder what is the situation in Ameican and European medical facilities outside big cities, do they have all they need.

what I'm reading is that if someone who dies with Covid-19 has a pre-existing condition, Russia is counting the death as being due to that pre-existing condition

Sure, only Russians do that!! I've read that in UK, for example, patients were kindly asked not to come to hospitals and not to bother ambulances untill they are 100percent sure they problems are the result of only COVID-19. And a couple of weeks ago I posted an opinion of the top Sweden epidemiologist how Sweden authorities hide the real extent of the epidemy in order not to spoil the statistics and to save money.

I'd take the Australian public health system over the Russian any time

Oh, I believe you. Given the difference in the size of the population and the distribution on that population across the country, it's no wonder. Australians don't have to build hospitals in hundreds widely dispersed towns and villages.

The US system vs the Russian? Hmm, not so certain

Take into account one thing: in Russia many basic medical procedures are still free of charge (or at symbolic charge). About a year ago I read an article how in the U.S. one volunteer group organized once a health check for people without the health insurance. There were long lines, literally hundreds of people who were unable to afford a visit to a doctor for years.

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