Moscow, May 20 (efe-epa).- Russian health authorities on Wednesday registered more hospital discharges than new Covid-19 cases in a single day for the first time as the Eurasian nation began a gradual and regionally variable de-escalation of the lockdown.
“The number of patients discharged in one day has surpassed the number of new cases for the first time,” the center in charge of the Covid-19 response in Russia said in its daily briefing.
Russia has the second-highest number of coronavirus infections in the world.
According to the latest official figures, some 9,262 people were discharged from hospital after recovering from Covid-19 while 8,764 new cases were detected.
The World Health Organization’s representative in Russia, Melita Vujnovic, told TASS news agency that the situation seemed to be in a phase of stabilization.
She added, however, that it was a “delicate moment” whenever a country started to see a decrease in contagion numbers.
To that end, she called on Russian authorities to keep taking heed of WHO’s recommendations for social-distancing and hygiene protocol, such as washing hands.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, who returned to office Tuesday after himself recovering from Covid-19, praised the drop in the number of new infections.
“This means, possibly, that we are passing the peak of the pressure on the health system and that the situation is stabilizing, most of all in Moscow, which was the first to come across the virus,” he said.
He added that the situation allowed the country to begin a gradual transition toward restarting the economy, warning, however, that there would have to be strict rules on protective equipment like masks and gloves.
According to officials, there have been 308,705 confirmed coronavirus cases in Russia, some 152,306 of those detected in Moscow.
In the last 24 hours, there were 2,699 new Covid-19 cases detected in the capital and 5,440 patients were discharged from hospital.
Tempering the positive news was a daily death toll of 135, the highest in a single day so far, bringing the overall total to 2,972.
Moscow’s mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, on Wednesday, urged people not to declare victory too soon, adding that although there was a drop in the number of hospitalizations in the nation, an average of 1,000 seriously ill people were being admitted for treatment every day in the capital.
He warned that May could see higher fatality rates than April given the city, which ordered a lockdown two months ago, was still in a “high risk” situation.
In fact, the mayor insinuated on Tuesday that the lockdown in the capital could yet be extended beyond 31 May.
According to the government, Russia’s economy had shrunk by a third by the end of April and the number of unemployed had doubled.
According to the deputy prime minister, Tatyana Golikova, the number of out-of-work benefit claimants in Russia had risen 30 percent — to roughly 1.6 million people overall — since the lockdown came into effect.
Beyond Moscow, other Russian regions are tentatively dismantling restrictions enforced to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Golikova said the current situation allowed 17 of 85 regions to begin winding down the extraordinary measures but warned that the number of infections was growing in others.