Health minister reveals death rates have fallen to pre-pandemic levels in most of Russia, but some remote regions still struggling

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Mortality rates in over half of Russian regions have returned to pre-pandemic lows, the country’s top health official has said, as authorities in rural Buryatia scramble to deploy additional beds to meet a rise in Covid-19 cases.

Speaking to TASS in an interview published on Monday, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko announced that the majority of regions in the country were seeing the rate of deaths falling to the level they were at before the start of the coronavirus crisis last year. To boot, these levels, he said, had been “the lowest in history. Covid, of course, radically changed the situation.”

Murashko credited two developments responsible for the dip in deaths, the first being effective “measures for the mass prevention of coronavirus infection.” In addition, he said, the “resumption of medical examinations” that were disrupted by the pandemic had helped head off mortality from diseases unrelated to Covid-19.

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However, in a sign that the fight against the virus is unlikely to be over just yet, the Minister of Health of Buryatia, a Far-Eastern Russian republic on the border with Mongolia, warned that the local epidemiological situation was worsening. Evgenia Ludupova wrote on Instagram to urge residents “to observe safety measures.” She added that “in particular, in the last week we have seen an increase in the incidence of acute respiratory viral infections and new coronavirus infections.”