Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 30 May 2020

Coronavirus: Russian court orders quarantine escapee back to hospital

Meanwhile China mulls postponing the National People’s Congress, the country's largest political meeting

A court in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg ordered a woman to be forcibly returned to a coronavirus quarantine centre after she fled a hospital and went home.

The city’s Botkin hospital filed a highly unusual request for a court order to readmit Alla Ilyina, 33, after she posted on social media about breaking out of her isolation room, complaining of inedible food and a lack of necessities such as shampoo.

The court ruled in favour of a forced return, which it said must be carried out immediately. Local television showed her being escorted to an ambulance by court bailiffs.

Ms Ilyina had visited the Chinese resort island of Hainan, returning by aircraft on February 1. A few days after returning she developed a slight temperature and sore throat.

Alla Ilyina, who broke out of the hospital on Feb. 7 after learning that she would have to spend 14 days in isolation instead of the 24 hours doctors promised her, speaks to the Media in a courtroom in St.Petersburg, Russia, Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. A woman who escaped from a hospital in St. Petersburg, where she was being kept in isolation for possible inflection by the new coronavirus, was ordered by court on Monday to return back to the quarantine for at least two days. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
Alla Ilyina, who broke out of the hospital on February 7 after learning that she would have to spend 14 days in isolation instead of the 24 hours doctors promised her, speaks to the Media in a courtroom in St Petersburg, Russia. AP

The doctors’ diagnosis was “acute virus illness” that they suspected could be the new coronavirus, Covid-19.

She was placed in 14-day quarantine on February 6 but fled a day later, according to the local health watchdog.

She said that test results had taken a long time and complained she would be kept in hospital “for as long as they want”.

Ms Ilyina has already been back in Russia longer than the presumed incubation period for the virus – 14 days. Court officials did not wear face masks during the hearing.

Yesterday the same hospital also filed legal action against Anna Rybakova, 32, who fled quarantine after Ms Ilyina.

Two others reportedly broke out of the hospital but later returned.

The news came as the first Russian citizen confirmed to have the virus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December was announced. She is aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan. She will be transferred to a hospital and receive treatment, the Russian embassy said.

The virus has infected 454 people on the cruise ship. Globally, the virus has infected more than 71,000 people, killing 1,770 patients in mainland China and five elsewhere. China has instituted strict lockdown measures on more than 60 million people in central Hubei province.

In January, Russia reported two confirmed cases of Covid-19 and admitted to hospital two Chinese citizens, who have since recovered. Moscow has cut most flights to China and halted visas for Chinese citizens.

Around the world countries have stepped up efforts to contain the virus and prevent new infections.

Although China recorded a reduction in new cases in recent weeks, there was a spike in recent days. Beijing said yesterday that it may postpone its annual congress in March, the largest political meeting of the year.

The standing committee for the National People’s Congress said it believes it is necessary to postpone the gathering to give priority to people’s lives, safety and health, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

It noted that a third of the 3,000 delegates are provincial and municipal-level cadres with important leadership roles working on the front line against the epidemic.

The standing committee said it would meet on February 24 to further deliberate on a postponement. The meeting is due to start on March 5.

With fears of the virus spreading further, Chinese and residents of nearby countries and territories have begun hoarding supplies of everything from masks and other personal protective gear to instant noodles, cooking oil and toilet paper.

The military also dispatched 1,200 additional doctors and nurses as well as extra supplies to the city of Wuhan. The city rapidly built two prefabricated hospitals and converted gymnasiums and other spaces into wards for those showing milder symptoms, but residents still say they have to wait for beds and even ambulance rides.

In Hong Kong, local media reported that police had arrested two men and were seeking three others who allegedly stole 60 packs of toilet paper at knifepoint yesterday morning. Supplies of the commodity are extremely scarce and often only low-quality imports are still available. Police were expected to discuss the matter later.

In Tokyo, marathon organisers said they were restricting the race to elite athletes to prevent the spread of the virus at the world-renowned event.

Updated: February 17, 2020 08:48 PM

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