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Russian health authorities claim that only 40 medical workers have officially died of COVID-19

Source: Meduza
Stanislav Krasilnikov / TASS / Scanpix / LETA

In mid-June, health officials reported that 489 medical workers in Russia had potentially died of the coronavirus. But as of last Friday, July 3, Russia’s Health Minister Mikhail Murashko maintained that there have only been 40 confirmed coronavirus deaths among the country’s healthcare professionals. Russia’s health authorities have only made official statements about the number of these deaths on a few occasions: here’s a brief timeline of their claims.

May 26th — 101 deaths

Two months after the start of the pandemic, the Russian Health Ministry released its first statistics on the number of medical workers who had died from the coronavirus. According to the department’s official data, the virus had killed 101 people. 

“Last Friday, 101 people were on the list of confirmed [deaths]. We are checking this data against the information [from the Social Insurance Fund], which is based on data from the media and the ‘Memory List’,” said Lyudmila Letnikova, the director of the Health Ministry’s department of public health, communications, and medical expertise.

June 18th — 489 deaths

On June 18, Alla Samoylova, the head of Russia’s public health watchdog, Roszdravnadzor, said that 489 medical workers in Russia had died of the coronavirus. At the time, this figure was even higher than the reports from the Memory List, which had recorded 444 deaths.

“489 [of the dead] are medical workers, unfortunately that’s almost five hundred people lost from among our colleagues,” Samoylova said.

Roszdravnadzor’s press service later released a statement, maintaining that this number was unofficial and claiming that Samoylova was referring to “data circulating online.”

July 3rd — 40 deaths

Last Friday, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko expressed the opinion that it makes sense to only count coronavirus deaths among medical workers that resulted in insurance payments. But only 40 of these compensation payments have been made since the start of the pandemic.

“The most reliable, verified information is the number of cases for which one-time insurance payments were made. Currently, 40 such payments have been made in the country through the Social Insurance Fund. In addition, there are cases that are under investigation,” Murashko stated.

As of July 6, the Memory List had recorded 555 COVID-19 deaths among medical workers in Russia.
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