March 16, 2020 / 12:36 PM / 24 days ago

Russia builds coronavirus hospital in Moscow as cases rise

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Moscow authorities are rushing to build a hospital for coronavirus patients, city officials have said, similar to the medical facilities that were constructed from scratch in China.

The new hospital and its 500 beds will be ready in the “near future”, according to a statement by Moscow’s deputy mayor Anastasia Rakova on the city’s health department website.

The facility in Moscow’s southwestern outskirts will be fenced off and guarded, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on his own official home page last week.

State TV has broadcast images of workers swiftly assembling pre-fabricated walls.

Russia has so far recorded 63 coronavirus cases but no deaths. Some doctors have questioned the data, given what they say is the patchy nature of testing. But the government has said it has been totally transparent about its handling of the crisis, and that its statistics are accurate.

The city’s medical resources have so far proved sufficient, Mayor Sobyanin said.

An existing Moscow hospital has been turned into a treatment centre and quarantine zone exclusively for coronavirus patients.

But Sobyanin said he wants to make sure there is extra capacity if necessary.

“There are quite a few preventative hospitalisations, suspected coronavirus cases which are not confirmed,” Sobyanin said on his website. “Of course the city needs to be ready for any scenario.”

Sobyanin said the new hospital was being built in an area without large apartment blocks and would not pose a danger to the local population.

The head of Russia’s Bashkortostan region, about 1,200km (745 miles) east of Moscow, said on Monday his region would also build a new hospital within the next few months to treat coronavirus patients, the RIA news agency reported.

Russian authorities have suspended many flights to and from coronavirus-hit countries. They are also screening passengers who have returned home from those destinations and ordering them to remain in self-isolation for two weeks, even if they not experiencing any symptoms.

Reporting by Alexander Reshetnikov and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Andrew Heavens

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