Natalia Krapiva, legal counsel with Access Now, an international non-profit, human rights, public policy, and advocacy group, said observers have “serious doubts” about the figures being released by the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin’s government has said there are 199 cases of Covid-19 in Russia. On Thursday the country declared its first death from the viral disease.
Ms Krapiva said people are beginning to question how Russia is escaping the heavy hit taken by many European countries.
She told Coda Story: “We are closely following public discourse, and I noticed that serious doubts are surfacing about how realistic the numbers are.
“These doubts have grown over the past few days, turning into open distrust, because people are seeing what is happening in Europe and connecting it to the fact that in Russia doctors are suddenly reporting a big increase in pneumonia cases.”
Anonymous doctors and nurses told Coda Story how the condition of hospitals in Russia has recently gone downhill.
One member of staff at Mukhin State Hospital on the outskirts of Moscow said there is a shortage of medical equipment.
She said the number of patients being diagnosed with pneumonia has shot up recently.
She said: “You can’t imagine what is happening.
”We don’t even have gloves sometimes, let alone face masks.
“We are sterilizing disposable equipment.”
A patient at the same hospital leaked information about what is going on inside.
He said he had to wait more than a week for his results of a Covid-19 test.
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During his stay he said patients who were suspected of being infected were not kept apart from one another.
He said everyone is afraid to return home.
“You are let go, and then you find out that you were there next to a corona patient and your entire family is infected,” he said.
The Kremlin has closed the majority of the crossings along the 2,600 mile border with China.
And anyone returning to Russia from areas where cases have been confirmed has been told to self-isolate.
Public gatherings and flights have been banned.
And authorities are scrambling to build a new hospital on the edge of Moscow.
A total of $135 million has been set aside for the project.
But many Russians do not believe the official numbers of coronavirus.
The country has a population of 140 million and as of March 20 had declared just under 200 cases.
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