US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Restaurant halls in Moscow are still open. No one is buying up toilet paper in a panic. Moscow streets with the onset of the pandemic almost did not change at all.
Russia, located on two continents affected by the coronavirus pandemic, remains an anomaly. The population there is 145 million people, and the confirmed cases are only 495, plus one deceased, although the cause of death is disputed.
However, such statistics are in doubt – due to the methodology of checks and due to the fact that the number of patients with pneumonia has increased in the country. Some doctors and critics of the authorities believe that this is due to the Sovid-19 disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Last week, President Vladimir Putin said that “the situation in the country is much better” than in Europe, and is “under control”. However, state television on Tuesday showed Putin dressed in a chemical protection suit from head to toe when he visited one of Moscow’s hospitals where people who are infected with coronavirus are being treated.
Two hours earlier, the Moscow mayor had told him that the number of infected people was probably much larger than reported, because testing capabilities were limited.
“The testing volume is very low, and no one knows the real picture,” said Sergei Sobyanin.
In January, the number of people with pneumonia in Moscow increased by 37% compared with the same period last year. This is data from the Russian statistical agency Rosstat. They show that in January 2020, 6,921 people fell ill with pneumonia, while in January 2019 the number of cases was 5,058.
“While the whole world is facing an outbreak of a new coronavirus, Russia is facing an outbreak of community-acquired pneumonia. And as usual, we are confronted with the lies of the authorities, ”said Anastasia Vasilieva, president of the independent trade union Alliance of Doctors, who posted her speech on YouTube.
Vasilieva, an ally of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, said in a telephone interview that it’s still not clear how many cases of pneumonia can actually be associated with coronavirus. According to her, she made her statement following consultations with medical workers from the Alliance of Doctors, which has offices in 40 Russian regions.
The problem, she said, is that doctors who treat patients with pneumonia don’t wear heavy protective suits, unlike those who are infected with coronavirus in a special hospital for infectious diseases.
The Russian authorities refute Vasilyeva’s allegations, and the Kremlin’s reassuring messages seem to produce results. Russia does not have the deep anxiety and concern that has covered many regions of the world, and there are no large-scale precautions.
Yes, the borders are closed, sporting events are canceled, and schools have gone on vacation. But Russia does not close large commercial enterprises, does not impose a curfew, and does not issue a self-isolation order.
According to reports from the Kremlin, Russia even sent medical equipment, assistance, and a “group of Russian specialists” to Italy, where the death rate from a pandemic is highest. This gesture was interpreted as follows: Moscow is confident in the authenticity of low incidence rates and is convinced that this situation will continue.
Melita Vujnovic, representative of the World Health Organization in Russia, said that WHO has no reason to doubt the statistics on the number of cases. She praised Russia for taking precautions at the very beginning, closing the border with China in January and recommending a two-week period of self-isolation to all those who came to the country from places affected by coronavirus.
According to the Rospotrebnadzor, Russia conducted about 186 thousand tests for coronavirus. Another 94,000 people are under medical supervision, although it is unclear whether they were tested for coronavirus. The 79-year-old woman became the only person in Russia whose death is attributed to Sovid-19, although even in this case the Moscow authorities say that she died from a blood clot, which is why she cannot be considered a victim of coronavirus.
Mayor Sobyanin said on Tuesday that two patients infected with coronavirus are in critical condition and they have an artificial lung ventilation device. During a meeting with Putin, which was shown on television, Sobyanin also doubted the official figures, noting that there could be 500 patients in Moscow alone. As of Tuesday, the city reported 290 cases.
“We see that quite a lot of people are at home, they just don’t test who came from abroad,” the mayor said. They feel good, and thank God. But really those who are sick, there are much more of them. ”
Until this week, all Russian coronavirus tests passed through one single laboratory on the outskirts of Novosibirsk, which is more than 3,000 kilometers from Moscow and St. Petersburg with their largest population in the country.
On Monday, Moscow, where more than half of coronavirus infections were recorded, announced that it was making changes to this procedure. Now testing will be carried out in the city, making a diagnosis after the first positive test and not waiting for confirmation from Novosibirsk, where the State Vector Research Center for Virology and Biotechnology is located.
“How much biomaterial can be sent to one laboratory?” Asks the doctor Vsevolod Shukhrai, who works in the Moscow neurosurgical clinic. – Yes, she’ll just drown. It is completely impossible.”
The medical scientific portal PCR News in its report noted that the tests used in the “Vector” laboratory have lower sensitivity than some others. The danger lies in the fact that samples taken from patients at an early stage of the disease can give a negative result, and recovering can still infect other people.
Vujnovic from WHO notes that there is no reason for concern about the sensitivity of the tests. According to her, if the test result is ambiguous, the laboratory will repeat the analysis in order to confirm the result.
“I don’t think that at the moment it is possible to build speculation and assumptions about the quality of the tests,” she said. – WHO works closely with the testing institute. We are looking at comparative results and the quality of tests, and at the moment we have no particular concern.”
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The article is written and prepared by our foreign editors from different countries around the world – material edited and published by Ordo News staff in our US newsroom press.