Moscow mayor: coronavirus outbreak is much worse than it looks

Moscow: President Vladimir Putin donned a hazmat suit and respirator on Tuesday during a visit to a hospital treating coronavirus patients and the mayor of Moscow said the outbreak in the Russian capital was much worse than official figures showed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, centre, wearing a protective suit enters a hall during his visit to the hospital for coronavirus patients in Kommunarka settlement, outside Moscow, Russia.Credit:AP

The comments, by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, marked the strongest statement yet by Russian authorities suggesting they do not have a full grasp of how widely the coronavirus has spread throughout the world's largest country by territory.

Russia has so far reported 495 cases of the virus, a figure that is much lower than in many European countries. One woman, who tested positive for the virus, has also died.

Putin has previously said the situation is under control, but some doctors have questioned how far official data reflects reality, a point taken up by Sobyanin, a close Putin ally, on Tuesday.

"A serious situation is unfolding," Sobyanin told Putin at a meeting, saying the real number of cases was unclear but that they were increasing quickly.

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