Officials have predicted a higher death toll for May than April, attributing this to the deaths of hospital patients who were admitted during the peak of the epidemic several weeks ago.

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday hailed a trend towards stabilization in the country’s virus situation and Thursday’s number of new cases was below 9,000 for the fifth day running at 8,371.

In Moscow, the worst affected city, there were 2,054 new cases, the lowest number since April 23.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin on Wednesday announced new steps towards lifting lockdown from June 1 including reopening non-food shops and allowing people to go on walks with masks on.

Russia has the world’s third-largest number of confirmed cases at 379,051, behind the United States and Brazil.

AFP contributed reporting to this article.