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Russia Reports Record Daily High For COVID-19 Deaths


Medical workers tend to a COVID-19 patient at the intensive-care unit of a hospital in St. Petersburg.

Russia reported a new daily high of 819 for COVID-19 deaths, a day after Moscow reported the highest number of monthly deaths in the city since the start of the pandemic.

The new figure reported on August 14 comes as the country's daily death toll continues to rise after infections peaked in July. Authorities blame the infectious Delta variant and a slow vaccination rate.

Independent demographers and health experts have cast doubt on the official figures, saying the authorities are severely undercounting both the death toll and the number of overall infections.

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Moscow said late on August 13 that the mortality rate in the city in July was 70 percent higher than before the pandemic in 2019 and 60 percent higher than in the same month last year.

A total of 17,237 deaths in Moscow in July is the highest monthly death toll since the pandemic began. Most of the excess deaths were caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the Moscow Health Department said.

"The dynamics is linked to the sharp rise of infections due to the spread of a new strain of the coronavirus in June as well as abnormally hot weather in the city in recent months," said the department, adding that high temperatures made COVID-19 patients feel even worse.

Russia's official total coronavirus death toll stands at 169,683.

Rosstat, the government statistics agency, keeps a separate count from the pandemic task force and says it recorded around 315,000 deaths related to COVID-19 between April 2020 and June this year.

Despite having approved four different vaccines, including the Sputnik V vaccine, the authorities have struggled to persuade Russians to get vaccinated, resulting in the country having some of the lowest vaccinations rates among major industrialized states.

With reporting by Reuters
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