The real situation of the coronavirus health crisis in Russia has been the subject of much speculation. Several complaints from the Republic of Dagestan report a situation different from that presented by official data.
More than the number of cases – Russia has more than 317,000 confirmed infections – it is the balance of deaths by covid-19 that has been most called into question.
On Sunday, Dagestan Health Minister Dzhamaludin Gadzhiibragimov said live on Instagram, in an interview with a local journalist, that the number of infections in the region was higher than the official.
As of Tuesday, Dagestan recorded 3,553 confirmed cases and 32 deaths, ranking as the fifth most affected region, out of the 85 that make up the Russian Federation. But the Minister of Health of Dagestan said in the interview, quoted by CNN, that the total number of infected with coronavirus and those with pneumonia exceeded 13 thousand, with 657 deaths.
According to Gadzhiibragimov, patients with pneumonia are being treated as if they are infected with coronavirus. However, they are not counted as suffering from covid-19 due to the lack of testing capacity.
The same situation was reported by activists, doctors and other frontline health professionals in the southern region of Russia. In statements to BBC, pediatric surgeon Ibrahim Yevtemirov says that in addition to him, seven other colleagues in his village, Khasavyrut, including nurses and laboratory personnel, have been infected with covid-19. According to what I told the BBC, professionals are doing their own counting.
“All three doctors on my team became ill. We were replaced by dentists until we recovered, ”he reported by phone to the British station, already back at work. “During the peak, 10, 11 patients per day died here”.
To the British daily Guardian, Ziyatdin Uvaisov, leader of the non-governmental organization Patient Monitoring, which advocates for the rights of patients and health professionals, reports the same problem in the Russian republic. “In some villages, five to six people were dying a day,” he said. “Some saw 20 or 40 die.”
Uvaisov also denounced the lack of medical equipment and personal protection for health professionals during the peak of infections, which only began to stabilize in the last few days: “The hospital system was totally unprepared”. The leading NGO has raised funds to buy and distribute medical masks and other equipment.
The lack of testing capacity and the frequent opposition to autopsies by family members, in addition to unreported deaths in isolated villages, are the most cited reasons for the official number of deaths to be much lower than the total number of deaths attributed to others. diseases, such as pneumonia, says Guardian.
Several government officials have blamed the population’s lack of confidence in local authorities for the outbreak; in addition to holding events with large clusters, such as weddings, funerals and religious celebrations – such as Ramadan. Putin asked the population of 3 million in Dagestan to celebrate the end of the latter at home, says the British daily.
After the denunciations of several clergymen (Dagestan is a Muslim majority), namely the mufti of the republic, who according to BBC denounced the situation that the region was going through Putin as a “catastrophe”, the Russian President personally intervened this week, asking for assistance from federal agencies during a national conference, reports the Guardian.
Dagestan would always be susceptible to the virus, says the BBC, as many local men drive trucks over long distances, crossing Russia to travel to Iran and beyond. The republic’s ties to Moscow also opened the door to the virus, as many locals who fled there fled to their villages when the blockade was declared in the country’s capital in late March, without any control.
It is not only in Dagestan that the number of pneumonia deaths is much higher than those caused by covid-19. This month, the St. Petersburg governor said 694 people had died of pneumonia, 10 times more than official coronavirus deaths.