Russian doctors facing hostility, mistrust

A medical specialist wearing a protective suit waits for patients at SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus test mobile laboratory in Moscow, Russia. EPA-EFE/YURI KOCHETKOV

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There are no daily public displays of gratitude for Russian doctors and nurses during the coronavirus crisis like there are in the West. Instead of applause, they face mistrust, low pay and even open hostility.

Residents near the National Medical Research Center for Endocrinology, a Moscow hospital now treating virus patients, complained when they saw medical workers walking out of the building in full protective gear, fearing the workers would spread contagion.

“Maybe once the disease knocks on the door of every family, then the attitude to medics will change,” said Dr. Alexander Gadzyra, a surgeon who works exhausting shifts.

The outbreak has put enormous pressure on Russia’s medical community. While state media hails some of them as heroes, doctors and nurses interviewed by The Associated Press say they are fighting both the virus and a system that fails to support them.

They have decried shortages of protective equipment, and many say they have been threatened with dismissal or even prosecution for going public with their complaints. Some have quit and a few are suspected to have killed themselves.

Government officials insist the shortages are isolated and not widespread.

Official statements and news reports in more than 70 Russian regions show that at least 9,479 medical workers have been infected with the virus in the past month, and more than 70 have died. Health care workers believe the death toll to be much higher and they have compiled a list of more than 250.

Read more via AP

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