How Russia Avoided The Coronavirus Epidemic


The fact that there have been only 59 cases of coronavirus infections reported in Russia so far, makes West’s professional and laic circles wonder how it is possible for such a big country to achieve that.

The data on the almost minor number of people infected with coronavirus in Russia, which borders with China, seems unusual, and many observers have different theories about it.

By 5th March, Russia had only four confirmed cases, and one of those was in Moscow, Europe’s largest city after Istanbul.

France and Germany have had more than 2,000 infected, and in Italy, the number goes up to 12,000. Until the coronavirus outbreak, similar number of passengers from China was flown to Russia, just like it was to those three European countries.

Russian independent portal Medusa announced that Russia closed its borders fast enough, so that almost no one infected could enter. Beijing-Moscow direct rail lines were cut off, and Russia-China land border was closed for cars and pedestrians. However, at that time, 9,923 cases were registered worldwide, so there was an opportunity for the virus to enter Russia before those measures.

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Some believe that the luck had a lot to do with it. At first, Russia was lucky enough, and then the border controls did their job. However, Russia borders with another country which is at the top of the infected list, and that is Iran. Another thing is that Russia hasn’t imposed travel restrictions when it comes to Italy and South Korea.

Russian consumer protection agency, Rospotrebnadzor, stated that since 31st January, 382,155 passengers from China were examined and 130 had symptoms of the common flu and other infections, but none of them was positive for the coronavirus.

On the other hand, there were claims that Russia is not using the best available virus test. There are two types of test that can detect a corona virus: tomography, which provides a description of clinical symptoms such as pneumonia, and a laboratory test to determine if the genetic material of the virus is present in a patient’s sample. The test used in Russia is a diagnostic test manufactured by Vektor, which uses PCR, a polymerase chain reaction. Media reports that that test is valid too.

Another theory is that the number of infected is underestimated.

Russia is rapidly working on building a hospital, like the one in China, where only the coronavirus infected patients will be placed. Sergei Sobyanin, the mayor of Moscow, said that the hospital will be build 1,287 kilometers southwest of the Kremlin, and it will be located in the Vornovoska area. Sobyanin guaranteeed that the construction of the hospital won’t endanger the local population. He also asked everyone to understand his decision, and explained the reason for choosing that location for the hospital. In that district there aren’t major residential buildings, and the distance between some local houses and the hospital is twice as high as recommended for the sanitary zone. The major also explained that anyone who has had contact with the infected should be hospitalized.

Moscow Directorate for Policy and Urbanism has confirmed the construction of the initiated project, but so far there are no information about the capacity of patients the hospital will be able to receive. It took China seven days to build the hospital which was able to accomodate 1.000 patients.