Authorities have predicted a higher death toll in May compared to last month, attributing this to deaths among patients who were hospitalised during the peak of the epidemic several weeks ago.

Officials in Moscow — the worst-hit city in Russia — on Thursday released details of mortality statistics for April in an effort to quash claims they have been under-reporting deaths to play down the scale of the crisis.

A total of 636 people died due to the coronavirus in Moscow last month, down from the previously reported toll of 639, health officials said. 

Moscow’s health department also reported that 756 people had tested positive for the coronavirus but “died due to other reasons.”

In 360 of those cases, the virus exacerbated a patient’s underlying health complications, officials said.

On top of that, 169 cases were confirmed through autopsies, even though patients tested negative.

Officials said that based on those figures a total of 1,561 people died in the Russian capital in connection with the coronavirus in April, adding the toll was “undoubtedly lower” than the number of fatalities in New York and London.

Russia says its low virus death figures are also down to mass testing which has identified many cases with mild or no symptoms. 

AFP contributed reporting to this article.