Russia says COVID-19 cases are less than 9,000 for the first time since May 1 – television channels

Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP.

Russia said on Monday that less than 9,000 new cases of coronavirus have been reported for the first time since early May, as anti-virus restrictions have eased and officials say the situation is stabilizing.

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Health officials have reported 8,926 new infections in the past 24 hours, bringing the country's total to 290,678, the second largest in the world after the United States.

It was the lowest number of new virus cases since May 1, when Russia announced 7,933 cases.

Russia's head of consumer health surveillance, Anna Popova, said this weekend that the growth of new cases was slowing and the country "has advanced to the level of stability we all expected".

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Russia began easing blocking restrictions across the country last week and announced that the national football league would be restarted in late June.

Health officials also announced 91 new deaths, down from 119 on Saturday, which were the highest of all days.

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Russia's death toll now stands at 2,722, a rate considerably lower than in many other countries affected by the pandemic.

Critics raised doubts about Russia's low official death rate, accusing authorities of underreporting in order to minimize the scale of the crisis.

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

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

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Authorities also say that since the virus later arrived in Russia, there has been more time to prepare hospital beds and launch large-scale tests to slow the spread.

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AFP

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