May 19, 2020 / 7:37 AM / 11 days ago

Russia awaits U.S. ventilator aid as coronavirus cases near 300,000

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The United States said on Tuesday it would start delivering 200 medical ventilators this week to Russia, which has the world’s second highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases.

FILE PHOTO: A view shows an Aventa-M medical ventilator next to a bed inside a pavilion of Crocus Expo exhibition centre, turned into a temporary hospital amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia May 11, 2020. Picture taken May 11, 2020. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo

Russia reported 9,263 new infections on Tuesday, pushing its total to 299,941, and 115 more fatalities, taking the total death toll to 2,837. Only the United States has reported more cases.

It was the fourth successive day that the number of new cases was below 10,000. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Monday Russia had halted the growth in infections and there were other positive signs.

Mishustin, one of four government ministers to catch the coronavirus, has been discharged from a clinic and is working normally, Interfax news agency quoted his spokesman as saying.

But the mayor of Moscow, Russia’s worst hit-region now in its eighth week of lockdown, said it was still too soon to let people out for walks or exercise and new infections would have to fall sharply before that happened.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the shutdown had spared Moscow the worst-case scenario mapped out by authorities, but 18,000 patients were still in a bad way in hospitals and thousands of new cases were reported daily.

The U.S. embassy in Moscow said Russian President Vladimir Putin had requested assistance from the United States and President Donald Trump had offered to send 200 U.S.-made ventilators.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the United States would cover the costs.

A first batch of 50 ventilators should be ready for shipment on Wednesday, while the remaining 150 will be ready shortly after, the embassy said.

Russia sent a batch of its own ventilators to the United States in early April, but U.S. officials say they were not needed in the end.

The Russian ventilator in question, the Aventa-M, was reported to have caused fires in hospitals in Moscow and St Petersburg. Russia then suspended use of Aventa-M ventilators produced after April 1.

Additional reporting by Anton Kolodyazhnyy, Gleb Stolyarov and Anastasia Teterevleva; Editing by Timothy Heritage, Alex Richardson and Giles Elgood

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