Russia's updated stats on virus-linked deaths show increase

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FILE In this file photo taken on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, Grave diggers wearing protective suits carry the coffin of a COVID-19 victim in the section of a cemetery reserved for coronavirus victims in Kolpino, outside St.Petersburg, Russia. Russia's updated statistics on coronavirus-linked deaths showed that over 100,000 people with COVID-19 had died in the pandemic by December, a number much higher than previously reported by government officials. According to the data released Monday by Russia's state statistics agency, Rosstat, a total of 116,030 people with COVID-19 died in Russia between April and November. The count included cases where the virus was not the main cause of death and where the virus was suspected but not confirmed. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, File)

MOSCOW – Russia's updated statistics on coronavirus-linked deaths show that well over 100,000 people with COVID-19 had died in the pandemic by December, a number much higher than previously reported by government officials.

The data released Monday by Russia's state statistics agency, Rosstat, brought the agency's count of people with COVID-19 who died between April and November to 116,030. That included cases where the virus was not the main cause of death and where the virus was suspected but not confirmed.

The data also showed that the number of deaths from all causes in the first 11 months of this year grew by 229,700, or nearly 14%, compared to the same period in 2019.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova told a government meeting Monday that the increase reported between January and November by Rosstat for the most part is related to the coronavirus.

“I would like to note that over 81% of the increase in mortality in this period is related to COVID and the consequences of being infected with COVID,” Golikova said.

Golikova's comment suggests that some 186,000 deaths may be linked to the coronavirus.

Both Rosstat's count and Golikova's assessment are much higher than the 55,827 deaths that have been reported by the Russian government’s coronavirus task force, including deaths that occurred in December.

The task force's relatively low death count, which is reflected in the numbers released by the World Health Organization, raised questions among experts at home and abroad several months ago, as Russia's tally of confirmed coronavirus cases became one of the world's largest.