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Harrowing Coronavirus Stories Emerge From Russia’s Battered Regions

The second record-breaking wave of coronavirus infections battering Russian regions has been accompanied by distressing stories and images of patients struggling in a strained health system.

Cities including St. Petersburg and the western enclave of Kaliningrad have seen their highest caseloads since the spring outbreak, while the Moscow region has doubled Covid-19 hospitalizations over the past month. 

Videos have shown bodies wrapped in black plastic filling hospitals in Siberia, patients have died due to oxygen shortages in southern Russia and hospital staff in the Urals have called for the Russian military to send army medics to shore up their collapsing health care system.

These are the harrowing coronavirus stories that have made headlines across Russia’s regions in the past week:

  • At least one hospital in the Siberian city of Tomsk is offering so-called “sitting hospitalizations” to Covid-19 patients due to bed shortages, according to journalist and civil activist Dmitry Aleshkovsky. Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said that 81% of Russia's hospital beds for coronavirus patients are currently occupied. 
  • World War II veteran Vladimir Molchanov, 87, died after hospital staff’s abortive attempt to transfer him to a psychiatric ward in the southwestern city of Volgograd. Regional prosecutors announced an inspection after a video of Molchanov’s lifeless body filmed by his daughter at the hospital’s entrance sent shockwaves throughout the country.
  • Authorities in the Zabaikalsky region near the Chinese and Mongolian borders are investigating an elderly woman’s death after she accused health officials in a video of refusing to hospitalize her. Olga Sorokina, 64, was admitted to hospital nine days after she said she had contracted Covid-19. She died the next day.
  • Federal health authorities announced an inspection into a hospital in the Pskov region near the Estonian and Latvian borders accused of withholding news of a patient’s death from his relatives for 10 days. The patient’s son found out about his death accidentally after he tested positive himself and asked for information on his father’s condition, the patient’s daughter wrote in a petition on the governor’s website.

Russia confirmed more than 1.67 million coronavirus cases after reporting over 18,000 new infections for the fifth consecutive day Tuesday. A total of 28,828 people have died, according to official statistics.

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