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At capacity A sharp increase in coronavirus cases leaves hospitals across Russia running out of beds

Source: Kommersant
Anatoly Maltsev / EPA / Scanpix / LETA

In Russia, against the backdrop of a sharp increase in new coronavirus cases, the number of available hospital beds for COVID-19 patients has decreased significantly, and patients undergoing diagnostics are waiting for hours to get CT scans. In a new report, the Russian business newspaper “Kommersant” breaks down how the second coronavirus wave is impacting the country’s hospitals, based on conversations with patients and their relatives, as well as official statements from the regional authorities.

Hospitals in Moscow and the regions are turning patients away

In Moscow, Kommersant journalist Anastasia Lobada had a hospital refuse to admit her husband, despite the fact that he had a fever of 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degree Fahrenheit) and had suffered partial damage to his lungs (less than 25 percent). Lobada said that for several days, their local doctor was unable to come for a house call, and after an ambulance took her husband, he waited four hours for a CT scan and then a few hours more to see a doctor. 

The Moscow Health Department told Kommersant, that “the burden on CT centers is really increasing” and as such, people could wait “more than an hour” for a scan. The Health Department didn’t comment on how full the hospitals taking coronavirus patients actually are. On October 5, two reserve hospitals for treating coronavirus patients were opened in Moscow, which are designed to accommodate approximately 2,000 people.  

In the Orenburg Region, doctors refused to admit a Novotroitsk resident, who had a temperature of 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degree Fahrenheit) and a significant degree of lung damage. As the man’s daughter told Kommersant, the doctors said there weren’t enough beds.

According to doctors in Magnitogorsk, the wait times for CT scans have reached several hours. Residents in Chelyabinsk have complained that ambulances can take several days to arrive. Stavropol is witnessing a similar situation, locals are experiencing long waiting times for ambulances, general practitioners aren’t arriving for house calls, and patients with fevers are waiting several hours to see a doctor.

Meanwhile, local residents in Yakutia say there aren’t enough CT scanners. The regional head Aysen Nikolayev reported that the existing devices are operating at capacity, and asked locals “not to undergo this examination just because.” The regional authorities are taking measures to avoid lines.

Hospital bed occupancy rates approaching (and sometimes exceeding) 100 percent

Hospitals in Russia’s Udmurt Republic have run out of beds for patients with the coronavirus and community-acquired pneumonia — the two thousand beds prepared in July are full, reported regional head Alexander Brechalov on October 6. According to him, the region is set to prepare another 1,000 additional places.

In the Rostov Region, the hospital bed occupancy rate has exceeded 100 percent. Hospitals in the region prepared 1,774 beds for coronavirus patients, but 1,797 people had been hospitalized with COVID-19 as of October 7. According to Kommersant, there were an additional 890 beds on standby, but that same day, a third coronavirus hospital was opened in Rostov-on-Don, taking 400 beds from the reserve.

The regional authorities in the Samara Region prepared more than 200 additional places for patients, but since these beds have nearly run out already, 400 additional beds are being prepared in the region.

Bashkiria’s infectious disease hospitals don’t have enough availability either, reported the regional head, Rady Khabirov. People showing any significant improvement are being discharged from hospitals despite still being sick, and waiting for a CT scan takes hours, patients told Kommersant. 

In St. Petersburg, only 858 of the city’s 4,900 hospital beds are available. The municipal authorities expect to increase the total number of beds to 8,100. A temporary hospital for 2,500 patients will be opened at the Lenexpo exhibition complex on October 12.

At least six more regions are almost out of beds designated for coronavirus patients. The Nizhny Novgorod region has 345 out of 3,135 beds available for those who have contracted COVID-19. In the Voronezh Region, 374 are left out of 3,913, in the Primorsky Krai — 236 out of 1,345, and there’s 340 beds left out of 404 in the Altai Republic. In the Magadan Region, infectious disease hospitals and departments are 60 percent full and in Magadan it’s 78 percent. In the Khabarovsk Region bed capacity has reached 73 percent, while in Khabarovsk 92 percent of beds are full. 

The incidence of COVID-19 has been increasing in Russia since September. Over the last three days, October 6–8, more than 11,000 new coronavirus cases have been registered in the country every day, which is close to the highest increase in cases seen back in May.

As of October 6, the number of daily infections had broken the spring records in 12 of Russia’s regions, including in Stavropol, the Tomsk Region, and Udmurtia, as well as annexed Crimea, according to a study from the St. Petersburg Politics Foundation, Vedomosti reports

Summary by Alexander Baklanov

Translation by Eilish Hart

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