Russia's coronavirus cases surpass 300 000

# 20 May 2020 11:45 (UTC +04:00)

Russia confirmed 8,764 new coronavirus infections Wednesday, bringing the country’s official number of cases to 308,705, APA reports citing Moscow Times.

On Sunday, the head of Russia's public health watchdog, Anna Popova, said the growth of new coronavirus cases in Russia is stabilizing.

Russia is the second most-affected country in terms of infections.

A record 135 people have died over the past 24 hours, bringing the total toll to 2,972 — a rate considerably lower than in many other countries hit hard by the pandemic.

Russia began easing nation-wide lockdown restrictions last week and announced the national football league would restart in late June.

Critics have cast doubt on Russia's low official mortality rate, accusing authorities of under-reporting in order to play down the scale of the crisis.

Russian health officials say one of the reasons the count is lower is that only deaths directly caused by the virus are being included.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova over the weekend denied manipulation of numbers, saying hospitals had a financial interest in identifying infections because they are allocated more money to treat coronavirus patients.

Authorities also say that since the virus came later to Russia, there was more time to prepare hospital beds and launch wide-scale testing to slow the spread.