Russia reports over 24,000 virus-related deaths in February


Russia on Friday reported a decline in virus-related deaths in February on the previous month, as authorities say the worst of the pandemic has passed and aim to lift remaining curbs by the end of the summer.

The figures published by the Rosstat statistics agency showed 14,171 Russians died due to the coronavirus in February, while a further 9,198 people died with the virus but primarily of other causes.

That total of 24,369 represented a decline of 36 percent on January, which saw 37,878 virus-related deaths—a figure Rosstat revised up by nearly 10,000 compared to its initial count last month.

The new totals bring Russia’s virus-related fatalities to over 224,000.

That figure contradicts the toll reported by health officials Friday, who said Russia had seen 99,633 deaths from the coronavirus.

Authorities have been criticised for downplaying the pandemic’s severity by counting only fatalities where the coronavirus was found to be the primary cause of death after an autopsy.

Russia has lifted nearly all the measures to limit the spread of the virus, with health officials saying that the worst of the country’s outbreak passed over the winter.

President Vladimir Putin last weekend said that Russia would be able to end the rest of its restrictions when about 70 percent of Russian adults have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, predicting that this would happen by the end of the summer.

But the level of vaccine scepticism is high in Russia, with a recent survey showing fewer than a third of people are willing to be inoculated.

As of last week, only about four million of the country’s 144 million people had so far received two doses of a vaccine, while another two million have had a first dose, despite the jab having become available in early December.

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