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Irina Sannikova

A Russian infectious disease doctor went to Spain and then went back to work. Now, she’s facing a coronavirus infection and criminal charges.

Source: Meduza
Irina Sannikova

Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case against Dr. Irina Sannikova, the lead infectious disease consultant for the Stavropol region and a professor at the local medical university. The charges against Sannikova include negligence and “the concealment of information about circumstances that pose a threat to the health and lives of individuals.”

Sannikova is suspected of violating self-isolation regulations following a trip to Europe. From March 6 to March 9, she was traveling in Spain, but she did not inform her supervisors of the trip, RBC reported. When Sannikova returned to Russia, she continued going to work rather than undertaking two weeks of self-isolation as required. According to the Investigative Committee, the doctor instead “went about her normal life — giving lectures at the university, participating in a conference, and visiting other institutions and agencies.”

On March 17, Irina Sannikova was hospitalized and diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that has spread particularly rapidly in Europe. Vladimir Vladimirov, the regional governor for Stavropol, said on March 21 that Sannikova’s condition was satisfactory. Everyone who had been in contact with the infectious disease specialist since her return was examined and sent home to self-isolate. Express tests indicated that up to 11 of the doctor’s colleagues may have been infected with the coronavirus, Kommersant wrote. Samples from those individuals have been passed on for further testing to the Vektor laboratory in Novosibirsk.

“I am at fault,” Irina Sannikova told the outlet Podyom on March 21, after news of her case had reached the press. When asked how she was doing, Sannikova said, “Poorly.”

Sannikova holds an M.D. and is a professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Phthisiology at Stavrpol State Medical University. She has worked at the university since 1993. In 2005, she was granted the title of Distinguished Doctor of Russia.

Text by Alexander Baklanov

Translation by Hilah Kohen