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Health

Serbia to review COVID-19 death rate after expert's criticism

FILE PHOTO: A medical personnel holds a swab while administering a test for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Institute of Virology, Vaccines and Sera "Torlak" in Belgrade, Serbia, August 12, 2020. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbia will review records since the start of the coronavirus outbreak to check the death rate and rectify any irregularities after its leading epidemiologist questioned the figures.

“We will do the audit in the most honest way. I believe in the expertise of our people. We never hid anything, and everything we did, we did transparently,” President Aleksandar Vucic told reporters on Thursday.

Serbia recorded its first case of the novel coronavirus in early March. According to official data, 33,551 people have been infected and 749 have died after falling ill with COVID-19.

Predrag Kon, a member of the government-appointed crisis staff tasked with combating the disease, said on Tuesday the official death toll for the capital Belgrade was three times lower than the real figure.

In an interview with Belgrade-based NewsMax Adria TV, Kon linked the discrepancy, which he said was particularly big in June, with what he described as an inaccurate information system.

The Balkan country saw a sharp increase in coronavirus infections before a general election in June and also in July after it eased restrictions imposed in mid-March to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Country’s health authorities say the number of infections has receded since August.

Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Timothy Heritage

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