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Fears that Russia’s true virus toll is being concealed

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

As the coronavirus outbreak eases in Western Europe and parts of the US, cases are rising steadily in Russia in a crisis that has damaged President Vladimir Putin’s standing and stirred suspicion that the true death toll in the country is being concealed.

As the coronavirus outbreak eases in Western Europe and parts of the US, cases are rising steadily in Russia in a crisis that has damaged President Vladimir Putin's standing and stirred suspicion that the true death toll in the country is being concealed.

READ MORE: Stay up-to-date with rolling 9News coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

Russia is now behind only the United States in the number of reported infections. Cases are also spiking in such places as India, South Africa and Mexico.

Russian officers in St Petersburg

New outbreaks in Russia

On Tuesday, new hot spots emerged in Russia, and the country recorded nearly 9300 new infections in 24 hours, bringing the total to almost 300,000, about half of them in Moscow. Authorities say over 2800 people with COVID-19 have died in Russia, a figure some say is surely higher.

Some experts argue Russian authorities have been listing chronic illnesses as the cause of death for many who tested positive for the virus. Officials angrily deny manipulating statistics, saying Russia's low death toll reflects early preventive measures and broad screening.

Nearly 7.4 million tests have been conducted in the country of 147 million people.

In Russia's second-largest city of St Petersburg, a virus hot spot, all burials now must be with closed coffins as a precaution, irrespective of the cause of death.

Previously the measure applied only to COVID-19 deaths. The country's prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin, resumed work on Tuesday after a bout with the disease.

Putin's approval ratings sank last month to 59 per cent, the lowest in the two decades he has been in power, Russia's independent pollster Levada Center reported.

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The plunge reflects growing mistrust and uncertainty among Russians, Levada said.

Putin has declared that a partial economic shutdown imposed in late March helped slow the outbreak and prevented the health care system from being overwhelmed. A week ago, he ended the nationwide lockdown, giving Russia's 85 regions a free hand to ease their restrictions.

The Kremlin has been accused of sending mixed messages.

Global workers back on the job

The surges come as much of Asia, Europe and many US states have been easing lockdowns to restart their economies as new infections wane.

US autoworkers, French teachers and Thai mall workers are among hundreds of thousands of employees back at work with new safety precautions.

Cases rising throughout Africa

Cases are still rising across Africa, where all 54 nations have seen confirmed infections for a total of over 88,000 cases and 2800 deaths, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

South Africa has the highest number of cases at over 16,400, with nearly 290 deaths. Infections have increased dramatically in Cape Town and the surrounding Western Cape province, which now accounts for 61 per cent of South Africa's total.

Situation worsening in Brazil

Latin America has seen more than 480,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and about 31,000 dead. The highest number of cases is in Brazil, which became the world's third worst-hit country Monday with more than 250,000 infections despite limited testing.

Hospital officials reported that more than 85 per cent of intensive care beds are occupied in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

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Coronavirus rising in Brazil

US cases pass 1.5 million

The US has recorded 1.5 million confirmed infections and over 90,000 deaths.

In a surprise announcement, President Donald Trump said he has been taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to protect against the virus even though scientists say there is no evidence of its effectiveness against the disease and his own administration has warned it should be administered only in a hospital or research setting because of potentially fatal side effects.

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More than 4000 new daily cases in India

In India, cases surged past 100,000, and infections are rising in the home states of migrant workers who fled cities and towns during a nationwide lockdown when they lost their jobs.

India is now seeing more than 4000 new cases day. States including West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and Gujarat, the major contributors of India's migrant labor, are showing major spikes in infections as the country's lockdown rules have eased. More than 3100 with COVID-19 have died, according to India's Health Ministry.

Mumbai, India,

Some countries have seen encouraging signs reverse: Iran reported a steady drop in new infections through April, only to see them rise again in May.

But there is new hope after an experimental vaccine against the coronavirus yielded encouraging results, though in a small and extremely early test.

More than 4.8 million people worldwide have been confirmed infected, and about 320,000 deaths have been recorded, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that experts believe is too low.

– Reported with Associated Press

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Source: 9News

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