Only days after the Kremlin assured Russians that the coronavirus pandemic was under control, Moscow’s Mayor Sergei Sobyanin told Russian President Vladimir Putin that “the momentum is high and a serious situation is unfolding.” Contrary to the previously reported low rate of infection, “the real number of those who are sick is significantly higher,” Sobyanin said. He added that the number of tests conducted to date has been extremely low “and no one on earth knows the real picture.”
On Wednesday, officially released statistics listed 658 coronavirus infections and no deaths. To date, there have been at least three known deaths of coronavirus patients in Russia, but they are being attributed to other causes and thereby deceptively omitted from government reports. The official bulletin about the coronavirus, released by Russia’s federal agency Rospotrebnadzor on March 24, states that more than 112,074 people remain under medical supervision.
Concerned Russian doctors sounded the alarm that potential coronavirus cases are being ascribed to pneumonia and seasonal flu without testing. For example, the city of St. Petersburg experienced a sharp jump of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus cases. During just one week in March, 63,000 SARS cases and 406 cases of pneumonia have been recorded, according to Interfax. The city’s administration emphasized that the incidence of SARS is at the epidemiological threshold. The Interfax news report did not point out that the official name of the novel coronavirus is SARS-CoV-2.