Shocking videos and pictures of long lines of ambulances outside Moscow hospitals have emerged as top officials told of an alarming coronavirus crisis in the Russian capital.
Snaking queues of dozens of medical vehicles all with patients showing symptoms of COVID-19 were seen outside city clinics.
There were at least 45 ambulances queuing to deliver patients for treatment in one video as the Kremlin declared a state of emergency in Moscow's hospitals.
One long line was outside a hospital in Khimki suburb, close to Moscow's main Sheremetyevo airport.
Another was seen at Hospital No.3 for war veterans in Losinoostrovskoy district.
Patients were waiting as much as 15 hours before they could be seen by doctors.
In a video filmed by a resident from his window opposite the Khimki hospital, the man says: 'All these [ambulances] are driving coronavirus [patients].
'That's the hospital opposite my window. And this is the line of ambulances.
'Just think about it, every patient needs to be admitted. That takes about 20 minutes per patient. So many ambulances...this is the end...'
The Kremlin said on Saturday that a 'huge influx' of coronavirus patients was beginning to put a strain on hospitals in Moscow as Russia's death toll rose to 130.
Moscow and many other regions have been in lockdown for nearly two weeks to stem the contagion, but hospitals in the capital are still being pushed to their limit, officials said.
On Saturday, a tailback of dozens of ambulances was seen queuing outside a hospital handling coronavirus cases in the region immediately outside Moscow, waiting to drop off patients.
One ambulance driver said he had been waiting 15 hours outside the hospital to drop off a patient suspected of having the virus.
'The situation in both Moscow and St. Petersburg, but mostly in Moscow, is quite tense because the number of sick people is growing,' Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview on state television, Russian news agencies reported.
'There is a huge influx of patients. We are seeing hospitals in Moscow working extremely intensely, in heroic, emergency mode.'
Russia's coronavirus crisis response centre said hospitals were taking all possible measures to ensure rapid admissions and that cases of ambulances needing to wait hours to drop off patients was not a systemic issue.
One Telegram channel Mosnow, said the hospitals 'cannot handle' the flow of ambulances.
'Ambulances are spending hours driving between hospitals. It looks like there are no places already.'
The 'majority' of patients have symptoms matching coronavirus.
The figure of confirmed cases in Moscow soared over the weekend by 2,336 cases and has two-thirds of all registered infections in the country.
Russia has more than 15,770 COVID-19 confirmed cases, with 130 deaths, but the figures are starting to rise steeply.
Vladimir Putin's spokesman conceded that the capital's hospital's faced an 'extremely' difficult situation with the pandemic.
'Moscow's hospitals are in emergency mode,' he said, adding that St Petersburg was also hit by a rise in cases.
The spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin's health was 'excellent' despite meeting a senior doctor who had contracted coronavirus.
Deputy Moscow mayor Anastasia Rakova said: 'Along with the growing numbers of people who are seriously ill, pressure has grown sharply on the capital's health service.
'Our inpatient facilities and ambulance service are now working at their limits.'
Russia has reported 13,584 cases of the virus, and the authorities said on Saturday that 12 new coronavirus-related deaths in the last day had pushed the death toll to 106.
Peskov added that it would become clearer only in the next few weeks whether the country was nearing the worst point in its outbreak.
Sergei Sobyanin, the mayor of Moscow, said on Friday that the city was far from reaching the peak of the outbreak, saying it was merely in its 'foothills'.
On Saturday he said Moscow would introduce digital permits next week to control movement around the city to help enforce the lockdown.
Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said worse was to come, adding: 'I can tell you for sure, there hasn't been any peak yet. We are more in the foothills of this peak, not even in the middle.'
He urged hospitals: 'We have a time lag so we can prepare better for the blow that is coming our way.'
Peskov said Russia's aim was the emulate Germany rather than other European countries.
Russia is preparing to open a brand new emergency coronavirus hospital within days, built from scratch on a greenfield site in less than one month.
The new £92 million clinic in Moscow has been built by 10,000-plus construction workers deployed round the clock.
It is the largest of some 18 new-build hospitals now being erected across Russia to deal with the Covid-19 crisis, and the only one not constructed by the army.
Almost half the beds in the new Moscow clinic will be in intensive care units and 40 more clinics are being reconstructed to take coronavirus patients.
The city's existing Kommunarka infectious diseases hospital is reported to be packed with 'elite' patients suffering from coronavirus or its symptoms.
One patient in Kommunarka is the hospital's head Dr Denis Protsenko who caused a health scare after meeting and shaking hands with Putin and subsequently being diagnosed to COVID-19.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.