July 6, 2020 / 2:54 PM / a month ago

Russia digs trench around Siberian village to enforce COVID quarantine

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian authorities have dug a trench around a remote Siberian village to enforce a quarantine, after dozens of residents contracted the coronavirus, which local officials believe was spread at a traditional shaman ritual.

The village of Shuluta, located some 30 kilometres south east of Lake Baikal in Siberia’s Buryatia region, has 37 confirmed cases of the virus among its 390 residents.

Ninety-five other people are believed to have been in contact with those infected and are also required to quarantine, said the head of the local administration, Ivan Alkheyev.

Alkheyev said the outbreak started after dozens of villagers took part in a shaman ritual on June 10, performed by an infected woman.

The ditches which encircled Shuluta were dug on June 29 as a measure to stop tourists from driving though the village to nearby Tunka National Park, as well as to limit movement by the local residents, some of whom were sceptical about an order to self-isolate.

“I don’t believe it! There should at least be symptoms and I don’t have any,” local resident Engelsina Shaboyeva, who has tested positive for the coronavirus, told a regional television crew filming in the village along with a group of volunteers who went to bring food.

Another resident, Svetlana Shaglanova, whose husband died after a stroke and had tested positive for the virus, said she did not agree with the diagnosis.

“They put that he died of the virus on the papers, but it is not true, it was just a stroke,” Shaglanova said.

Russia’s consumer safety watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said those who performed the shaman ritual despite a ban on public events in the region could face a fine.

The only road to the village which was not cut off by the ditch is now patrolled by local officials and Russian national guards who allow only ambulances and food deliveries in.

Russia’s official coronavirus case tally, the fourth largest in the world, rose to 687,862 on Monday.

Writing by Maria Vasilyeva; Editing by Peter Graff

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