Russian military opens coronavirus hospitals across the country

Russian Defense Ministry
On-the-spot treatment centers are being set up in all regions, from Kaliningrad to Kamchatka.

In late March, the Russian Ministry of Defense began building multifunctional military medical centers nationwide to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the military, the centers are being built around the clock, with the first such facility set to be completed in mid-April in Nizhny Novgorod (400 km from Moscow). By mid-May, the first eight centers will be fully equipped with everything needed to treat the new disease.

“More than 3,500 specialists and 800 vehicles and other equipment are working around the clock in three shifts. The foundations of the sites are laid already, and the construction teams have started on the buildings themselves,” the military department reported.

According to the Ministry of Defense, the pace of construction has been stepped up in line with a recent presidential decree. And 8.8 billion rubles (around $110 million) has been allocated for the construction of the facilities.

The medical centers are expected to accommodate about 1,600 patients.

As stated by Russian Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov, the hospitals are being built to the tightest possible deadline: in 40–56 days. In total, the ​​medical centers will cover approximately 115,000 square meters.

“All new army and navy clinics will be equipped with the very latest medical equipment, including CT scanners and devices for anesthesiology, endoscopy, and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. The required stock of personal protective equipment and medicines is already being assembled for future centers,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. 

Who will treat patients

Coronavirus patients will be treated primarily by doctors from the Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Protection Troops of the Russian Armed Forces.

These units in wartime carry out clean-up operations after the use of weapons of mass destruction, and in peacetime are deployed to handle epidemics and viruses — as during the Ebola epidemic in Africa a few years ago.

It is these Russian virologists who are fighting the coronavirus pandemic in Italy as we speak.

“At the end of their trip, the ‘Italian’ medics will be sent to the new facilities where they will treat patients with the ‘European’ coronavirus,” Dmitry Safonov, former military analyst at Izvestia newspaper, told Russia Beyond.

As he explained, the coronavirus genome differs in Europe and China, and the treatment of the disease in these regions is not the same.

“Russia has already deciphered the genome of the Chinese strain and is working on the European one. When researchers have all data on the disease to hand, they will be able to produce an effective treatment for all existing types of coronavirus,” the analyst added.

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