Over the month, the incidence of covid in St. Petersburg has quadrupled. Patients lie in the corridors and doctors’ offices – and even Beglov almost admitted that the situation was critical

Pokrovskaya hospital in St. Petersburg.  October 30, 2020
Pokrovskaya hospital in St. Petersburg. October 30, 2020Alexander Demyanchuk / TASS / Scanpix / LETA
97 Hospital Admission Ambulance Photos and Premium High Res Pictures -  Getty Images

The official incidence rate in St. Petersburg breaks records almost daily. Beglov says the situation is critical (but did not tell Putin about it)

At the peak of the first wave of the pandemic – in mid-May – more than 500 new cases of coronavirus were detected daily in St. Petersburg, official statistics say  . In early November, the figure for the first time exceeded one thousand, and on November 6, 1171 new cases were revealed in the city – this is another record in the incidence since the beginning of the pandemic. The number of tests done is also growing, but lagging behind the increase in incidence.MORE ABOUT THE SITUATION

The city authorities admit the worsening situation with the coronavirus. Vice Governor Oleg Ergashev called the situation in the city “tense”. He noted that the authorities are going to increase the number of beds for coronavirus patients. As of November 5, 18 hospitals were admitted to patients with COVID-19 in St. Petersburg. 8653 beds are deployed in them, of which 9% are free, although two days earlier, on November 3, 20% were in reserve. The number of available beds has been steadily decreasing in St. Petersburg since July, although the number of beds itself is growing due to the conversion of hospitals.

The Governor of St. Petersburg, Alexander Beglov, said on November 2 that there were “critically many” cases – then 923 new cases of infection were recorded in the city. But the very next day, at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Beglov reported that “the situation is not critical, but difficult.”

Doctors say that the real situation is even worse – and patients already have to lie in the corridors and doctors’ offices

Back in September, St. Petersburg doctors complained to Meduza that the flow of patients had noticeably increased compared to the summer. In some hospitals, even then there were no empty seats, and ambulances lined up in front of hospitals. Since then, the situation has only worsened, an employee of the Alexander Hospital told Meduza.

The situation is similar in other covid hospitals. The Pokrovskaya Hospital of St. Petersburg became famousback in the spring, after numerous complaints from employees about the lack of protective equipment: 87 doctors fell ill with covid, but the head physician of the hospital received the title of Hero of Labor for his contribution to the fight against coronavirus. Two employees of the Pokrovskaya Hospital, speaking with Meduza, noted that the current situation in terms of the hospital’s workload is already reminiscent of the spring one: hospital beds are running out, patients have to be put in the corridors and offices of some doctors. At the same time, doctors no longer complain about the lack of protective equipment. A source familiar with the situation in another hospital, No. 15, told Meduza about a similar situation with the overcrowded wards. At the same time, doctors are afraid to talk about this anonymously, because they are afraid that they will be forced to discharge patients as soon as possible.

According to doctors, the situation can only be corrected by re-profiling all new hospitals for covid. Since November 5, the Mariinsky Hospital has been receiving coronavirus patients. An employee told Meduza that doctors have hope that it will be easier during the second wave than in the spring, because doctors have more data on working with covid patients.


An employee of one of the kovidny hospitals told Meduza that doctors still do not trust Smolny’s official statistics. For example, since mid-September in St. Petersburg there has been a steady ratio of sick and recovered patients. The number of the first is almost twice as many every day – deviations from this rule were minimal. After the publication of Meduza on October 23, the anomaly disappeared: from the next day, the number of people who recovered in St. Petersburg was 55–56% of the number of cases, and not exactly 50%, as before. According to the latest data at the time of publication – for November 5 – the figure was 48%.

At the same time, Meduza’s source at the covid hospital notes that now patients in hospitals are in a more serious condition than in the spring – he attributes this to a general increase in morbidity, due to which only seriously ill people are admitted to hospitals. In the fall, Smolny decided to hospitalize as few patients as possible in order to relieve hospitals from those who are able to be treated at home. The city’s health committee told Meduza that out of 1,093 new cases of covid disease detected on November 4, only 10% were detected in hospitals.

The vice-governor of St. Petersburg, Oleg Ergashev, also noted that St. Petersburg residents began to get sick more severely than in the spring. According to him, this is due, in particular, to the fact that in the spring there was a regime of self-isolation for elderly Petersburgers – and they were less likely to get sick. In addition, there are more elderly people in the city as a whole, as they returned from summer cottages. The vice-governor added that the older generation, even after being discharged from the hospital with a negative test, often develop complications.

According to Ergashev, 243 people were connected to the ventilator in St. Petersburg at the beginning of November. In the spring, the maximum number of such patients was 220.

The government bans food courts – but thousands of spectators are allowed to attend football matches

In the fall, several major events took place in St. Petersburg at once, attended by thousands of people. For example, on November 4, football Zenit played in the Champions League with Rome’s Lazio – the game was attended by more than 17 thousand people, many did not respect social distance and other restrictions.

On November 5, Alexander Beglov signed a decree that from next Monday, November 9, new restrictions will come into force in the city due to coronavirus infection. Mass events in premises for more than 70 people are prohibited, as well as the operation of food courts and children’s rooms in shopping centers. Beglov, following the example of Moscow, recommended to employers to transfer to remote work all employees over 65 and people with chronic diseases, as well as at least 30% of other employees. However, mass events in the open air (like the Zenit – Lazio match) remain permitted.

Stricter rules were in effect in the spring. The first person infected with the coronavirus in St. Petersburg was registered on March 12, and the very next day the authorities introduced restrictions, banning mass events for more than a thousand people. After that, Smolny constantly tightened restrictions: on March 18, events for more than 50 people were banned, then schools and universities, shopping centers and nightclubs, restaurants and some categories of stores were gradually closed. By the end of March, discount passes were blocked, and citizens over 65 were banned from leaving their homes.

Smolny began to make serious indulgences in the summer, before the vote on amendments to the Constitution and “zeroing” the presidential terms of Vladimir Putin. The townspeople  were allowed to  be on the street without masks and gloves,  non-food shops, hairdressers and summer verandas began  to work . Theaters and cinemas were reopened on September 12.

Earlier, Meduza’s source in Smolny explained that the St. Petersburg authorities intend to contain the second wave without closing restaurants and other radical measures. Largely due to the economy affected by the pandemic.

The incidence is likely to grow further. How long is unknown

Epidemiologist Anton Barchuk explained earlier in a conversation with Meduza  that the autumn second wave in St. Petersburg was expected – due to more intense contacts between people against the backdrop of the end of the summer and vacation season and the beginning of the school year. The head physician of the Elizabethan hospital, Sergei Petrov, in a conversation with Meduza, agrees with these assumptions – and adds one more reason: in his opinion, the coronavirus is now much better diagnosed.

Petrov’s opinion is confirmed by the head physician of the private St. Petersburg ambulance “Koris” Lev Averbakh: “In the spring, these PCR tests have just begun . There were many mistakes. Now it has adjusted a little. Most likely, there are more truthful results. Well, then – the epidemic did not end. “

The former chief physician of the main hospital in St. Petersburg – the hospital named after V.I. Botkin – Alexey Yakovlev. At the same time, he notes that it is better to focus not on the number of detected cases, but on the loading of hospitals and other statistical data: “To assess the scale of the problem, it is better to look at the data of Rosstat – the decline in the city’s population in comparison with previous years. Here we will see a sad picture. “

Smolny publishes general mortality statistics in St. Petersburg – it has already recorded the highest mortality rate in the last 10 years. According to Rosstat, the increase in mortality from April to August 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 was 14%. The health committee announced a 16% increase in mortality. At the same time, among the Russian regions, St. Petersburg, by a margin, ranks first in terms of the number of deaths from covid per 100 thousand of the population for almost the entire pandemic – at the time of publication this figure was 76.2.


Experts believe that the incidence will continue to grow. According to the forecast of the head of the working group on the creation of mathematical models of the spread of coronavirus, Alexei Borovkov, St. Petersburg will approach its peak in early January 2021.

City officials believe the peak will occur earlier. “The growth is not as intense as in the first wave, but it will be observed. The peak will fall at the end of November – December. Kovid will not let us go by the New Year, ” said Dmitry Lisovets, chairman of the St. Petersburg Healthcare Committee. He did not rule out that, given the dynamics of the spread of the coronavirus, Petersburg will approach its peak in a couple of weeks. 

(C)MEDUZA 2020

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