I’ve talked to many Russians inside the country and many expats living abroad over the last few weeks. There is a common theme among them — they don’t believe in the Chinese coronavirus.
“F*ck the coronavirus” is a common theme in their comments. “Let’s dance!”
“I am healthy, the old people can stay indoors. I won’t stop my life for this virus.”
“Everyone dies at some point. Let it be now or later. In the meantime, I’m going out!”
They may be right. As of the posting of this article, there are very few cases across Russia’s 11 time zones and only one death.
But, it could just be the virus arrived later inside the Federation and is busy stealthily infecting its population. Many healthcare professionals don’t believe the numbers.
The Siberian Times spoke to Dr Alexander Chepurnov, a leading virologist who previously headed research into ebola at the world famous Russian State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology, Vector, in Koltsovo, Novosibirsk region.
‘I’m not that sure that all is so safe here,’ he said.
‘I cannot find any explanation [to the fact that a low number of people have been diagnosed with the virus in Russia] and that is why doubts gnaw at me.’
He said: ‘What is worrying, in my opinion, is that I do not understand why they do not take samples from all people with pneumonia.
‘All these cases are now ascribed to seasonal flu.’
However, the Kremlin does seem to be worried and is building a large pre-fab hospital outside the country’s capital of Moscow to house 500 patients.
A massive construction effort is under way in Golokhvastovo, 50 kilometers southwest of Moscow, to build a hospital for the treatment of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The site is expected to have 500 patient beds and separate dormitories to house a staff of 1,000. City officials say the hospital could open its doors within a month, reports RFERL.
The social distancing is coming slow. Moscow has banned certain functions like schools, and gatherings of more than 50 people have been prohibited.
But, Moscow’s vaunted subway system is still open. Restaurants are still open. Bars are open. Production facilities are still running.
All people arriving in Russia from abroad will be required to undergo a two-week self-isolation, starting from the day of arrival, due to the risk of the coronavirus spread, reads the directive of Russia’s Chief Sanitary Doctor Anna Popova posted on the official legal information website on Thursday, reported Russian state news agency TASS.
“The top officials of Russia’s constituent entities [must] ensure the isolation of all individuals arriving in the Russian Federation for a period of 14 days from the day of their arrival,” the document reads.
To make matters worse, it seems some rich Russians could be hoarding the ventilating machines needed to help people breath when they become sick with the virus.
But The Moscow Times has found evidence, based on dozens of interviews, that Russia’s rich are setting up makeshift clinics in their own homes to ensure they can have better care than the masses if they get infected. And in what may have severe ramifications down the road for Russia’s battle against the coronavirus, they are buying up and hoarding the ventilators that have proven essential in saving lives in severe cases.
“We’ve been able to get one so far and are trying to get two more,” one family member told The Moscow Times, asking to remain anonymous to speak candidly on the subject, and noting that the device cost 1.8 million rubles ($22,500). “But there’s an eight-month waiting list.”
As for the people, life goes on, only casually aware of the crisis that could be building around them.
As for the Russian who told me “F*ck the coronavirus, let’s dance!” a few weeks ago. His tune has changed. Below is his recent post.
“My mom just told me the nurse taking care of my Dad has been diagnosed with a heavy case of COVID-19. She has been hospitalized. Now my Dad has been quarantined. To those who think this is a conspiracy theory, kindly go f*ck yourselves. Better yet, put a bullet through your head and never have kids. There’s enough stupid in this world already. Really worried about my Dad. We never had the best relationship, but he’s the only Dad I have, and at 76, and having had a stroke, this is bad for him. Stay the f*ck home people.”
Isn’t it amazing how people change?
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