MOSCOW, April 7 (Xinhua) -- A snap check carried out by the Russian Defense Ministry has shown that the country's Armed Forces are ready to combat COVID-19, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday.
The check carried out between March 25-28 involved military control bodies, formations, units of the Western and Central Military Districts, Aerospace Forces, Strategic Missile Forces, units of radiation, chemical and biological defense, engineering troops and individual medical support units.
"In accordance with the government's instructions, the defense ministry has deployed an emergency operations headquarters to prevent the import and spread of the new coronavirus infection into the Armed Forces," Shoigu said at a conference call attended by top brass.
He said the ministry had formed 49 mobile sanitary-epidemiological groups to identify virus carriers and organize a prompt response.
Shoigu said that currently, the most important task was the construction and commissioning of 16 multi-functional medical centers in the western, southern, central and eastern military districts.
Contractors have already begun work on all construction sites, with the facilities expected to be put into operation between April 20 to May 15, he said.
Shoigu said he had also instructed the commanders of the Eastern Military District and the Pacific Fleet to raise the capacity of the Irtysh hospital vessel to 450 beds.
The upgraded ship will be able to accommodate uninfected patients, to unload medical facilities of the Defense Ministry in the Far East and prepare them for possible admission of patients with signs of coronavirus infection, he said.