UPDATE 1-Russia overtakes Germany and France in number of coronavirus cases after record daily increase


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MOSCOW, May 7 (Reuters) – The number of coronavirus cases in Russia jumped to 177,160 on Thursday after a record daily increase in infections, which means it now has the fifth highest number of cases recorded in the world and more cases than in Germany or France.

The number of new cases of the new virus has jumped 11,231 in the past 24 hours, according to the country’s coronavirus task force.

More than half of the cases and deaths are in Moscow, the epicenter of the Russian outbreak, which on Thursday reported an overnight record increase of 6,703 new cases.

The official death toll in Russia, which remains well below that of many countries, rose to 1,625 after the deaths of 88 people overnight, the task force said.

Sergei Sobyanin, mayor of Moscow, said on Wednesday that confirmed cases are increasing in the capital because the authorities have greatly increased testing and the situation has actually stabilized somewhat.

Russia claims to have performed more than 4.8 million tests for coronavirus.

President Vladimir Putin backed a plan proposed by Sobyanin on Wednesday to gradually start lifting some lock-in restrictions after May 12, for example allowing some industrial facilities to start operating.

Moscow and other Russian regions are in their sixth week of lockouts.

Residents of the capital were asked to stay at home, except in certain circumstances such as going out to buy food and medicine. They must obtain a digital permit to travel anywhere on public or private transport.

Russia’s relatively low death rate has prompted some Kremlin critics to suggest that the authorities could cover the true picture of the epidemic by not correctly identifying deaths from the coronavirus as such.

Authorities deny the allegations, stressing that the coronavirus epidemic in Russia started later than in many other countries, which has enabled it to better prepare for the pandemic.

Russia now has the fifth highest number of cases in the world, according to a count by John Hopkins University in the United States. (Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov and Maria Kiselyova; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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