Putin: Russia Has a ‘Deficit in All Sorts’ of Medical Gear

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to a journalist's question during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted there is a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for medics in Russia as the country prepares for its peak coronavirus infection rate to hit soon. This shortage has occurred despite a recent increase in the production and import of the materials, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

“Compared to before, [we’re producing] a lot. But compared [to] what we need, it’s still not enough,” he said during a televised briefing.

“Despite increased production, imports – there’s a deficit of all sorts of things,” Putin acknowledged. He added that Russia is now producing 100,000 protective suits for medics per day, up from 3,000 per day in March.

According to the BBC, about half of the 99,399 Russians currently diagnosed with coronavirus are now in medical facilities. More than 20,000 coronavirus patients have been admitted to hospitals in Moscow – Russia’s capital and most populous city – placing the healthcare system under tremendous strain amid the PPE shortage.

Russian medics have recently voiced concern over treating coronavirus patients without proper protective materials, causing some doctors quitting in protest. On April 25, a Russian doctor fell 50 feet from her office window during a government conference call to discuss her hospital’s coronavirus response. She had reportedly just been told that her medical facility would have to receive 80 coronavirus patients despite an “acute shortage” of PPE for hospital staff.

In his briefing, Putin said that the government had managed to “slow the spread” of coronavirus in Russia by enacting strict measures early on, such as closing its borders on March 30, grounding international flights on March 27, and closing all nonessential businesses in Moscow on March 28.

Putin said that, despite Russia managing to contain the spread of coronavirus until now, current restrictions on people’s movement must remain in place as the country anticipates its peak infection rate to launch in the near future. Putin warned the public not to grow complacent.

“The deadly danger of the virus remains,” he said.

The president said Russia’s coronavirus lockdown would continue until May 11. Putin added that he had instructed the government to devise a plan by May 5 for a gradual easing of restrictions on movement.

On Wednesday, Russia extended its current entry ban for foreigners, which was originally set to expire on May 1, Russian state news agency TASS reported. The ban will be lifted when the coronavirus “situation improves,” Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said.

“So far it is impossible to give an exact date when the restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus will be completely lifted, including the border crossing of Russia,” the prime minister added.

In response to the increasing number of cases, Moscow will start constructing temporary hospitals to hold a total of 10,000 beds for coronavirus patients, the Moscow Times reported on Wednesday.

At press time on Wednesday, Russian had reported 99,399 infections and 972 deaths from the Chinese coronavirus.

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