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Russia’s regional Covid crisis: Health Ministry investigates after two patients with serious lung damage left without hospital bed

Healthcare in the Siberian city of Omsk is under the microscope after ambulances carrying seriously ill patients were turned away by hospitals due to a lack of beds. The Russian Health Ministry has launched an investigation.

On Tuesday evening, two ambulances with elderly patients were driven around the city of Omsk for several hours, as multiple hospitals told them that no beds were available. The patients, aged 70 and 85, had suspected cases of Covid-19. After a few hours, the ventilation machines in the ambulances began to run out of oxygen, and the lives of the two patients were threatened. After that, the ambulances were driven to the Omsk Regional Ministry of Health building to ask for help.

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According to journalists from local newspaper Gorod55, who spoke to British state broadcaster BBC, the patients were eventually admitted to hospital. 

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“We don’t have free beds. Once a patient is discharged, the ambulance immediately brings another in their place,” a doctor told the newspaper, on condition of anonymity.

The alarming failure in Omsk is now under investigation by the federal Ministry of Health, with Deputy Minister Evgeny Kamkin set to visit the region.

In response, Regional Governor Alexander Burkov wrote on Instagram that the situation is “beyond human understanding,” dubbing it a “failure of the system.”+

“Patients should not spend 10 hours in an ambulance waiting for hospitalization. Even during a pandemic,” Burkov said.

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Despite months of national preparation, Omsk is not the only part of Russia to suffer from a lack of Covid-19 capacity. On Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova told President Vladimir Putin that 16 regions have a critical situation regarding free places, with five areas 95 percent full.

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