Explainer: Russia’s Biggest Coronavirus Hotspots

With 145,268 officially confirmed cases as of Monday, Russia has the world’s seventh-most number of confirmed coronavirus infections.

Two months after the first case was brought from Italy, the disease has spread to all corners of the world’s largest country and appears to show no signs of slowing down. While more than half of the country’s infections are in Moscow, the contagion is also on the rise in a handful of epicenters outside the capital.

Here is a brief look at the top epicenters of Russia’s Covid-19 outbreak outside Moscow:

1. Gazprom’s Chayanda natural gas field (approximately 3,000 cases), the republic of Sakha (311 cases regionwide)

— A Health Ministry official who visited the site said around 10,000 workers from other regions and countries have been tested for Covid-19.

— Regional authorities maintain that just 39 cases have been recorded at the gas field. A senior regional official’s interview claiming that 3,500 Chayanda workers have tested positive for Covid-19 has since been deleted.


2. Novatek’s Belokamenka LNG construction site (1,680), the Murmansk region (1,974 cases regionwide)

— Russia’s second-largest Covid-19 outbreak started in mid-April among construction workers building a liquefied natural gas facility for the Novatek energy giant in Russia’s far north.

— Although authorities introduced a state of emergency at the seaside village of Belokamenka 2,000 kilometers north of Moscow, construction was reported to have continued, with infected workers returning to work. Around 300 workers who tested negative for Covid-19 have been evacuated to central Russia, where at least 114 have since tested positive.

— A cruise ship has been sent to the seaside village of Belokamenka, where 11,000 people are said to be working for 20 contractors, to place workers under observation.

— Authorities erected one 500-bed field hospital near Belokamenka. Local media reported that plans to add a second one if Covid-19 cases continue to rise have been scuttled by Moscow for financial reasons.

3. Ufa’s main hospital (170), the republic of Bashkortostan (1,102 cases regionwide)

— The Kuvatov Republic Clinical Hospital was placed under strict lockdown with more than 1,000 medical staff and patients in early April after a handful fell ill with coronavirus symptoms. Its chief doctor later said that Covid-19 was confirmed among 52 patients, while 78 others had pneumonia.

— Thirty of the hospital’s medical staff filmed a video address questioning the official figures and asking President Vladimir Putin to order an investigation into the mass outbreak. Investigators launched an inspection following initial reports of the outbreak, but have not yet published their findings.

— Authorities are racing to build a hospital for coronavirus patients in the city 1,500 kilometers east of Moscow, which they hope to open by May 25. Regionwide, Bashkortostan’s governor extended lockdown measures until May 11, restricted inter-city travel and mandated the wearing of masks in public starting next week.

4. Bogorodskoye village (116), the Khabarovsk region (668 cases regionwide)

— With a population of 3,272, this Pacific village 9,000 kilometers east of Moscow has emerged as an “unexpected” epicenter of Russia’s Covid-19 outbreak. The regional task force believesthat the virus was transmitted through a local hospital, but an investigation has been unable to locate “patient zero” so far.

— The Khabarovsk region’s governor quarantined Bogorodskoye in mid-April, and officials have dispatched doctors to the understaffed epicenter, where infected doctors continued to treat patients.

— The Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North has raised concerns that the virus threatens the livelihood of the indigenous Ulch people, the vast majority of whom are concentrated in the remote village.

5. Dzhanelidze Research Institute of Emergency Medicine (111), St. Petersburg (5,346 cases regionwide)

— All 111 coronavirus patients are doctors and other medical professionals at the hospital. Though located in Russia’s third most-affected locale in terms of infections, it has not been repurposed to treat Covid-19 cases.

— The short-staffed hospital continues to see patients, primarily burn victims and those with alcohol poisoning, but in a limited capacity.

— More than 250 healthcare workers are estimated to have tested positive for Covid-19 in St. Petersburg, with eight of them dying. Authorities have issued a call to recruit more medical professionals to shore up a growing shortage of current staff.

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