Moscow has three times more Coronavirus cases than officially accounted-for – Mayor

By Jonny Tickle
Sergey Sobyanin

Despite Russia ranking fifth in the world for confirmed Covid-19 cases, the truth might be even worse. Moscow’s Mayor Sergey Sobyanin believes the real tally in the city is about 300,000 – three times more than the official count.

In an interview with TV channel Russia 24, Sobyanin explained how the increased numbers are actually a positive.

“The fact that we have identified so many cases is not a minus, but a huge plus. Obviously, there are even more in the city. According to screening studies, [cases] are in the region of 2-to-2.5 percent of the total population of Moscow; in terms of the figures, about 300,000,” said the mayor.

According to the latest official data, Moscow has 92,676 confirmed cases, less than a third of Sobyanin’s assumption.

The mayor added he had tasked the capital’s authorities with finding as many infected people as possible, in order to place them in quarantine and to prevent any further contact.

“Huge work is being done for this; we doubled the tests in a week. Previously, we tested about twenty thousand; now, about forty thousand,” he explained.

Sobyanin noted that over the past two weeks hospitalizations of patients with coronavirus had not increased, despite an ever-growing number of cases. Furthermore, according to the mayor, today’s figures show that, in Moscow, more people had been discharged than hospitalized.

Moscow’s mayor was also eager to compare the city’s response to that of New York City. Sobyanin claimed that Moscow’s rate of detection had now surpassed New York’s, meaning that the Russian capital has a more efficient testing regime than that in the USA’s largest city.

The significant undercounting of cases for official records is not unique to Russia. According to the University of Bonn, Germany’s numbers are likely understating the actual number of cases by more than ten times. A similar level of undercounting has also been reported by the Civil Protection Agency in Italy, and the journal Science in the USA.

Despite the rapid increase in testing capability and the stability of hospitalization figures, it appears that life in Moscow will not be getting back to normal in the near future.

“We mustn’t lose optimism,” the mayor said. “How quickly we get out of this situation will largely depend on ourselves, on our discipline. I don’t want to think about the future, but my opinion is still the same – we won’t return to a full life without any restrictions any time soon.”

Sobyanin’s commitment to not reducing restrictions was further emphasized when he announced a brand-new measure for Muscovites. From Monday, in the capital, wearing masks and gloves will be mandatory on public transport, in what the mayor called “an additional mode of self-isolation.”

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