May 18, 2020 / 7:41 AM / 8 days ago

Russia looks to U.S. for aid as new coronavirus cases drop to lowest since May 1

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is working on getting reciprocal medical aid from the United States, Moscow said on Monday after the country reported its lowest overnight rise in coronavirus cases since May 1.

Patients receive treatment in an intensive care unit of the Central Clinical Hospital "RZD-Medicine", which delivers medical aid to people infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Moscow, Russia May 18, 2020. Sofya Sandurskaya/Moscow News Agency/Handout via REUTERS

But Russia, whose tally of 290,678 cases is the second highest after the United States, said the situation remained difficult after officials reported 8,926 new infections.

This marked the third day in a row that the figure was below the 10,000 mark which it has been above for most of this month.

Meanwhile, Moscow is working on securing supplies of reciprocal medical aid from the United States to help it combat the coronavirus, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Sergei Ryabkov said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington was sending Moscow some testing equipment and medical ventilators to help it manage the crisis and that the equipment was “on its way”, the Washington Examiner reported on Sunday.

Although Russia sent a batch of Russian-made medical ventilators to the United States in early April, U.S. officials say they were not needed in the end.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, who was diagnosed with the coronavirus last month, told a televised government meeting on Monday that the situation overall was improving and that many patients were being discharged by hospitals.

“The situation ... remains difficult, but we can nonetheless say we have managed to stop the growth in the infection (rate),” he said at the meeting held by video conference. “The dynamic is positive, according to the most cautious estimates.”

Moscow and Russian regions across 11 time zones are in their eighth and seventh week of a lockdown respectively to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but Mishustin said that 27 regions were safe to begin gradually relaxing their restrictions.

He did not specify which regions this applied to.

Russia’s coronavirus taskforce said on Monday that 91 people had died in the last 24 hours, pushing the country’s death toll to 2,722 as Moscow looked to the United States for help.

Ryabkov said on Monday that U.S. President Donald Trump had promised earlier that the United States would be ready to help Russia with equipment once it was mass producing ventilators.

“That possibility was welcomed with gratitude from our side, this issue is now being worked on. We consider mutual help to be a straight-forward matter,” Ryabkov was quoted by Russia’s RIA news agency as saying.

The ventilator that Russia sent to the U.S., the Aventa-M, came under the spotlight last week after it was reported to have caused two hospital fires, in Moscow and St Petersburg.

Russia subsequently suspended the use of the Aventa-M, although only those manufactured from April 1, after the ventilators had been sent to the United States.

Additional reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Editing by Alexander Smith

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