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Nearly 500 health workers die from COVID-19 in Russia

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Russia has seen a big spike in health workers dying from COVID-19
Russia has seen a big spike in health workers dying from COVID-19   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky
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Almost 500 health workers have died in Russia since becoming infected with COVID-19.

The Russian Federal Medical Surveillance Agency, Roszdravnadzor, announced on Thursday that 489 medical personnel have so far died. It comes amid complaints from healthcare professionals over a lack of protective equipment.

As coronavirus cases mounted across Europe in March and April, Russia appeared to have escaped the worst of it however since then the country has seen a massive outbreak. Russia currently has the third-highest number of cases in the world, behind the US and Brazil, at 561,091, with 7,660 deaths.

Critics have questioned the official death toll, accusing Moscow of knowingly underestimating it, but Russia says its figures are lower compared to Western countries because it only counts deaths whose primary cause was coronavirus. Other countries count almost all deaths of patients who had tested positive.

The Russian authorities also argue that because the epidemic came later in Russia, the country had time to prepare its hospitals and develop a massive screening policy.

Healthcare workers have been on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19, with the issue of adequate protective equipment a point of contention in a number of countries.

In Italy, a list compiled by the National Federation of Physicians and Dentists shows the names of 168 medical professionals who have died, although the list has not been updated with any deaths in June.

At the start of June, the International Council of Nurses said the limited data available indicated more than 230,000 health workers worldwide have been infected with COVID-19, and that at least 600 nurses have died from the virus.