Russian President Vladimir Putin has admitted that there is a shortage of protective kit for medics as the country battles the coronavirus.
This was despite a big increase in production and imports, he said.
Mr Putin warned that the peak of the coronavirus infection rate had not yet been reached in the country, and the population must remain vigilant.
Russia’s lockdown aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19 was extended until 11 May.
It has more than 93,000 coronavirus cases, with 867 recorded deaths.
What did Putin say?
The president said there was still not enough protective equipment for health workers on the frontline of the crisis.
“Compared to before, [we’re producing] a lot. But compared 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,” he added.
Medics have complained about working without proper protective clothing, especially in Russia’s regions.
Russia is now producing 100,000 protective suits for medics per day, up from 3,000 a day in March, he said. Production of masks has also increased more than 10 times, to 8.5 million per day in April.
Mr Putin said that while the government had managed to “slow the spread” of the epidemic, Russians would have to self-isolate for longer.
He said the lockdown would continue for two more weeks, though he instructed the government to draw up recommendations by 5 May for a gradual easing of restrictions.
“The deadly danger of the virus remains,” he said.
After a month under lockdown, Russians are already getting restless; the streets are getting busier again.
So this speech from Vladimir Putin was at once a dangled hope and a warning.
The government will now come up with an exit strategy to be implemented gradually, carefully – at some point.
But the peak infection rate hasn’t passed here, and the risk from this epidemic remains high. So the restrictions on movement will stay in place – until after the long May holidays at least.
It’s not pleasant, Mr Putin, acknowledged. But thinking the threat has passed would be dangerous.
What’s the situation in Russia?
Russia currently ranks eighth in the world for confirmed cases.
Around half of those diagnosed with Covid-19 in the country are now in hospital. That’s over 20,000 in Moscow, which is putting the healthcare system under great strain.
A military theme park and an Expo centre are now being converted into temporary hospitals as the number of cases continues to rise.
Credit : BBC