Dagestan faces coronavirus ‘catastrophe’ as Moscow pledges aid

World Grigory Matyunin 20-May-2020
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to provide relief to Dagestan, a Muslim-majority federal subject of Russia in the North Caucasus which has been hit by a severe coronavirus outbreak.

A week after lifting a nationwide lockdown, Putin has stated that the dire situation in Dagestan will need an ’emergency response’ with financial and military aid.

The news comes as Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin was discharged from hospital on Tuesday following three weeks of treatment for coronavirus.

The number of fatalities in Dagestan is disputed. While approximately 700 deaths from pneumonia have been recorded only 32 were officially linked to coronavirus. The nationwide death toll for Russia currently stands at 2,837. Some sceptics have poured cold water onto these statistics, noting Russia’s conservative approach to attributing deaths to the new virus.

The population of Dagestan stands at nearly three million and people tend to live in very closely integrated communities which has facilitated the spread of the virus. Healthcare facilities are in a chronic state of disrepair and the level of testing currently stands at a mere 1,500 a day.

Concerns have been raised  by local health authorities about the risks posed by Eid celebrations which may cause the local population to violate restrictions.