Sunday 31.05.2020

US flies coronavirus aid to Russia where cases are climbing

The death toll climbed past the 3,000 mark after 127 people died in the previous 24 hours.
Medical specialists treat a patient in an intensive care unit of the Lomonosov University Clinic (Moscow). Photo: Andrei Nikerichev/Reuters.
Medical specialists treat a patient in an intensive care unit of the Lomonosov University Clinic (Moscow). Photo: Andrei Nikerichev/Reuters.

 A US Air Force plane delivered a first batch of medical aid including 50 ventilators to Russia on Thursday to help it cope with a rising number of coronavirus cases and deaths.

Russia's case tally, the world's second highest, rose to 317,554 on Thursday after 8,849 new infections were reported, while the death toll climbed past the 3,000 mark after 127 people died in the previous 24 hours.

Only the United States has more confirmed infections. At 3,099, Russia's death toll is much lower than many European countries however, something that has sparked debate about the methods it uses to count fatalities.

Russia cites a huge testing programme, which it says has seen over 7.8 million people tested, as the reason for its large number of reported cases, and says many involve Russians without symptoms of the virus.

Government officials also say there are signs that the outbreak is beginning to stabilize and that daily increases in new cases have become smaller in recent days.

"Humanitarian aid delivery"

US Ambassador John Sullivan said the 50 US-manufactured ventilators were the first tranche of a $5.6 million humanitarian aid delivery to Russia. Another 150 ventilators would be delivered next week, he said.

Moscow sent medical supplies to the United States last month.

Even though relations between Washington and Moscow remain at post-Cold War lows, the presidents of the two countries have spoken by phone several times in recent months to discuss the pandemic, oil and arms control.

Russia's government has ordered thousands of Russian-made ventilators, but suffered a setback when the model of ventilator it wanted was reported to have caused fatal fires in two Russian hospitals this month.

The same ventilator type was part of the batch of medical supplies Russia sent to the United States.

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