Russia, like other countries, is preparing for the likelihood that the Coronavirus will reach Russia, and in fact already 20,000 people are under medical observation, reported Anna Popova the head of the Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare. Popova also reported that the virus has not been detected amongst the Russians evacuated from Wuhan and kept under quarantine.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin assured the public earlier that the situation was under control and that the Federal Antimonopoly Service and Federal Service for Surveillance in Healthcare will ensure that prices in pharmacies for antiviral drugs do not rise amid reports of coronavirus. As a backup, the government is preparing documents "on the procedure for importing into Russia unregistered drugs and medicines that patients with serious illnesses need, and, first of all... children," Mishustin promised that there would be no repetition of last year's scandal surrounding the anti- epilepsy drug Frizium, when parents, who had imported the drug for their children faced criminal prosecution..
Not everyone in Russia was assured. On February 5, 2020, Irina Yakutenko, a biologist, scientific journalist, author of the Telegram channel “Spineless Masons” wrote an article for Kommersant titled "Chaos and Showboating Are Worse Than Coronavirus," that the evacuation of the Russian citizens from the afflicted areas of China did not augur well for the authorities' ability to cope with the situation if the virus reached serious proportions.
Protective mask near the Kremlin (Source: Kapital-rus.ru)
Yakutenko's article follows below:
"We have all learned from the news that the Russian authorities decided to evacuate our citizens from China... Obviously, everyone who was on PRC territory during the epidemic should be quarantined, but [Russia] is a big country, where should it be arranged? Considering the well-known difference in the quality of medical assistance between Moscow and other regions, it would have been logical to accommodate the evacuated in a medical facility near the capital. But this decision seemed, apparently, too intimidating for some, therefore, the citizens evacuated from China were sent to… Tyumen. [roughly 2000 km from Moscow]. Russia's Chief Sanitary Inspector, Anna Popova explained this strange choice: 'the region has already experienced the virus and did not allow it to spread.' In other words, there is a situation of hopelessness in other regions, and God forbid, if the virus gets there, because in that case we would be unable to avoid the Chinese scenario.
“They transport citizens to Tyumen via military aircraft. In the news, those transported cheerfully reported to the journalists how grateful they are to the party [presumably United Russia] and to the government for the evacuation. But we live in 21st century and [age of] digital transparency: in the Instagram story of @marina_zai (one of those evacuated from China) one can see how things looked.
"[The evacuees received] a military aircraft with unreliable heating, benches instead of seats (Seat belts? What seat belts?), and a bucket (!!!) instead of a toilet. Well, at least, the evacuees received fair warning about this, and were mecifully forbidden to drink two hours before departure.
Caption reads: Evacuation of Russians from China (Source: Youtube.com)
"The flight was not a direct one and for refueling the plane landed in Ulan-Ude [in East Siberia], where dinner was arranged. That would have been fine, but it is -30 degrees centigrade in Ulan Ude. People flew from a warm China, and in the tents, as far as I could understand, they didn't provide heating or almost didn't provide heating. Amongst the evacuees there was at least one nursing mother...
"Why not organize food in heated cabins or even fly non-stop to Tyumen? You will not believe it, but long-range planes already exist, and the Tyumen airfield can even receive them.
"Instead of installing military decorations, one could ensure hygiene for the evacuees: on the video, some of them are generally without masks, some are wearing masks, but all the time they take them off with dirty hands to drink tea or to talk. The same applies to staff: people wearing chemical protective suits are sitting at the baggage claim, and in tents in Ulan-Ude there are dining room workers wearing fur coats and the same useless masks.
"And here is another news article: a Novosibirsk gymnast returned from China with cold symptoms. She honestly tried to clarify what she should do, but no one could barely say anything. 'I started calling all the clinics charging payment in quest of a place where you can submit a blood [sample] for this particular virus. I thought they would examine me quickly. Yeah, [I was so] naive! They refused me everywhere, they said: no such analysis exists. Eventually I called Ministry of Health hotline and then SES [Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing], where I was advised to go to a regular clinic according to my place of registration. What I actually did. But there they were absolutely unprepared to help me. They said: 'Precisely now we are having a meeting on this virus, and as yet there is no scheme of action...
"As a result, the girl was taken in an ambulance to the clinic, then put on a stretcher with a plastic cover and taken to the hospital. There she and another patient suspected [of contracting] coronavirus have been locked up in the ward for several days. At the same time nurses take them to the neighboring building for X-ray without any protection. The ward works as usual. There is no confirmation of the diagnosis, although the Vector State Research Center, where such analysis is performed and where the blood was sent, is located in Novosibirsk itself..."