FILE PHOTO: A pigeon sits next to a medical specialist resting on a bench at the territory of Aleksandrovskaya hospital, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Saint Petersburg, Russia June 5, 2020. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov/File Photo
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has revised steeply higher, to nearly 500, the number of medical workers who have died after contracting COVID-19, illustrating the severe toll the pandemic has taken on its frontline doctors and nurses.
The Health Ministry had reported on May 26 that 101 medics had died from the coronavirus, a figure that was much lower than an unofficial tally of 444 deceased medical workers compiled online by Russian doctors.
Alla Samoylova, the head of a Russian healthcare watchdog, updated the official figure on Thursday to 489, the TASS news agency reported, some 6.4% of the overall nationwide death toll.
Russia, which has a population of 145 million, has reported more than half a million coronavirus infections, the world’s third largest caseload after the United States and Brazil, though its confirmed death toll of 7,660 is much lower than that of many other countries.
That disparity has been called into question by critics who allege data manipulation, but the authorities have defended their figures as more accurate than other countries and entirely transparent.
Reporting by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Gareth Jones