Russia is preparing for a major increase in coronavirus cases with regions told to urgently boost available hospital beds and draft in medical students.
Infections outside Moscow and its surrounding region have soared 110 per cent in the past week.
And the authorities are scrambling deal with a 31-fold increase in a fortnight at a construction site manned by 11,000 workers – including many migrants – above the Arctic Circle.
Belokamenka hospital, a tented field hospital flown in from Moscow
Novatek construction site workers. Russia is preparing for a major increase in coronavirus cases with regions told to urgently boost available hospital beds and draft in medical students
A new mobile hospital in Murmansk to treat coronavirus victims. Infections outside Moscow and its surrounding region have soared 110 per cent in the past week
In the capital city, new temporary hospitals are now planned to handle 5,000 patients on top of existing provisions with Vladimir Putin’s government admitting that doctors here are ‘under stress’.
A quick-build module for 1,500 patients is being attached to overflowing Kommunarka infections diseases hospital, it was announced.
Medical students in their fourth and fifth years face being called up, reported Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper.
Regional bosses were told to increase their hospital bed capacity in the expectation of rising infections.
Until now, Russia has lagged behind many major countries in the rate of infections but officials fear they will see a peak here only in mid-May.
The worsening outbreak in the Arctic Covid-19 hotspot has seen a 29 per cent rise in a day in Murmansk region – to a total of 856 people.
Murmansk mobike hospital. Until now, Russia has lagged behind many major countries in the rate of infections but officials fear they will see a peak here only in mid-May
Novatek construction site workers. Novatek is Russia’s largest private owned natural gas company
Of these, 686 are at £1.1 billion Belokamenka construction site belonging to gas giant Novatek, a rise of 192 in just 24-hours.
Local opposition activist Violetta Grudina revealed footage from the huge site claiming that claiming that that rules for isolation of new arrivals and social distancing have been flouted leading to the mushrooming infections.
‘There are no hand sanitisers and masks. The numbers are growing every day, ‘ she said.
She blamed ‘negligence’ by the company and local officials with workers seen in long queues without protection.
‘If there was an award for the best accomplice of coronavirus, Murmansk region would have several recipients and a medal,’ said Grudina.
Novatek was ‘creating conditions for coronavirus to spread’.
Despite this the Arctic site – part of a new liquified natural gas port – is still working as it regarded as strategically important to Russia.
Earlier this month two hulking Ilyushin-76 transport planes flew a field hospital to Murmansk city to boost capacity due to the Belokamenka outbreak.
Murmansk hospital. Medical students in their fourth and fifth years face being called up, reported Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper
Belokamenka field hospital. Earlier this month two hulking Ilyushin-76 transport planes flew a field hospital to Murmansk city to boost capacity due to the Belokamenka outbreak
This regional capital is the world’s largest city north of the Arctic Circle.
In Moscow a record 41 patients died in the most recent 24 hour period.
The patients were aged 34 to 92.
‘Unfortunately, the number of patients [with Covid-19] has grown in the Russian Federation by more than twice, or, to be more precise, by 110%, over the past week,’ said deputy premier Tatyana Golikova, referring to the period until Friday.
‘The regions other than Moscow and Moscow region are somewhat behind, but we see some growth there as well.
‘Although we are dealing with the law of small numbers there, I’d like to say that morbidity in the regions other than Moscow and Moscow region has grown more than in Russia as a whole, that is, by some 130 per cent.
‘We have habitually assessed the trend based on day-to-day growth, and it has somewhat soothed us, because the curve that is developing in Russia is not that steep and enables the healthcare system to prepare for challenges facing it.’
‘However, we see now that the healthcare system is overstrained in the central part of the country, primarily in Moscow and Moscow region.
‘Our doctors are working under stress.’