Coronavirus in South Ossetia: no reported cases, no tests, one lab, one resuscitation table
There have been no official reported cases of coronavirus in South Ossetia, but it’s a two-sided situation.
On the one hand, the authorities and local media (mostly controlled by the authorities) are telling the population not to panic, and are only banning cultural events scheduled after March 26.
Schools and kindergartens were closed from March 18 to March 31, but the reason given for doing so was the seasonal flu. At the same time, entry from Russia was restricted, and entry from Georgia was completely banned.
Many people are discussing the efficacy of “localized treatments,” such as drinking vodka to prevent the disease and refraining from spreading fake news.
And on the other hand, local residents are mass purchasing groceries and essentials in stores.
“All of the sudden, we’ll start seeing cases pop up here…then they’ll close the border with Russia. Let’s make sure we at least have porridge stocked at home,” Marat, a resident of Tskhinvali, told Caucasian Knot.
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One convenience store owner told the agency that “since March 16, cereals, pasta, toilet paper, juices, and oil have been flying off the shelves.”
“People are buying food like it’s New Year’s Eve,” she said.
One resuscitation table, one ventilator – and not a single test kit
Official information states that by March 23, six people with coronavirus-like symptoms had been placed in quarantine. Another 19 people are under home surveillance, as they returned from countries where a pandemic had been announced.
The South Ossetian Ministry of Health declares that there are sufficient resources in the republic, including antiviral drugs. An official report states that an intensive care unit has been prepared at the influenza department of the infectious diseases hospital (one ward). There is only one ventilator.
The ministry did, however, admit that there is no testing system for detecting coronavirus in the republic. “The issue of purchasing them has been raised,” the minister said in response to a question from journalists.
Only one laboratory, which is not equipped for dealing with COVID-19
Chief Medical Officer of South Ossetia Marina Kochieva spoke about her concerns that the only existing local laboratory does not meet safety requirements:
“The laboratory is equipped to work with diseases in risk group three or four. And this virus is risk group one or two. But there are no other laboratories, and we’re going to have to use what we’ve got.
We took the responsibility upon ourselves to send two employees to take a training course in the Stavropol Territory [in Russia]. ”
Kochieva confirmed that South Ossetia is suffering from the same problem that is already widespread in the rest of the world: a severe lack of medical masks, hand sanitizers, and some medicines.
The situation may become even more dire. Russia has banned the export of personal safety equipment and some medical products, and South Ossetia has no other source of imports.
Local authorities have already turned to Moscow for help.
Ossetian students are being evicted from dormitories in Russia and sent home to South Ossetia
Students who traveled from South Ossetia to study in Russia, like all foreign students, are being evicted from student dormitories in Moscow and sent back home.
This put many students in a difficult situation. They needed to find a way to get home, and then settle in South Ossetia, where there is no available work. It is unknown whether the authorities will offer them any support, and they have yet to comment on the situation.
Georgian community in a difficult situation
Unofficial sources report that among those currently in self-isolation are four from the Georgian community, which lives in a small region in the Leningorsky (Akhalgori) region of South Ossetia.
When South Ossetia completely and indefinitely closed the border to Georgia on February 27 due to coronavirus cases reported in the area, the Georgian community was put under threat. Many receive Georgian retirement payments, do business and shop on the Georgian side.
An exception was later made for those who become ill. They were allowed to travel to the Georgian side, provided that upon return, they would be subject to a two-week quarantine.
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