How to do tests for coronavirus in Tatarstan, or ‘No Laboratory Tests’

An attempt to find a way to test yourself for the fatal infection turns into a vicious circle

How to do tests for coronavirus in Tatarstan, or ‘No Laboratory Tests’
Photo: Maksim Platonov

As Realnoe Vremya found out, it is, to put it mildly, not easy to do tests for coronavirus in Tatarstan as well as in most Russian regions, it can be even impossible. Only the Republican Clinical Hospital for Infectious Diseases and University Polyclinic in the Universiade Village agreed to do a swab test in Kazan. However, the coronavirus quick response team under the government of Tatarstan promises to take preventive measures and talk with medical staff who habitually sends patients to regional polyclinics and the Republican Clinical Hospital for Infectious Diseases.

Vicious circle

As correspondents of Realnoe Vremya found out first-hand, it is possible to perform a test for coronavirus only in the Republican Clinical Hospital for Infectious Diseases (RCHID). By the way, the passengers of the unfortunate Diamond Princess ship are precisely there.

The hospital’s emergency room confirmed that they accepted such tests — only if a person “did have contact” with a patient diagnosed with the coronavirus or is back from China, South Korea or Iran — the countries with the biggest infection hotspots.

In other cases, it was advised to go to the local polyclinics. But then a person who wants to do a tests turns out in a vicious circle. None of the Kazan polyclinics Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent called as a potential patient dealt with such tests and they sent her to the same RCHID where the person will be sent to the polyclinic again.

It is possible to perform a test for coronavirus only in the Republican Clinical Hospital for Infectious Diseases (RCHID). Photo: Yekaterina Ablayeva

There is only the RCHID and, thank God, another polyclinic — the university polyclinic in the Universiade Village — for the whole city. Surprisingly for the desperate journalist, she was offered to make an appointment for an infectious disease doctor who works daily instead of redirecting her somewhere.

A similar scheme is organised in Naberezhnye Chelny: a patient is sent from polyclinics to the city’s hospital for infectious diseases. The only difference is that it is much harder to get through to the Chelny polyclinics than to those in Kazan, while some person who is responsible for coronavirus tests is available only up to three days — in the daytime, and it seems that it is impossible to see him.

At the same time, only state institutions have a possibility of dealing with the coronavirus in general: some private medical organisations of the city were said that the tests for this disease weren’t done there.

There is nothing to say about regional hospitals — the situation across the republic is identical.

“Influenza and viral respiratory infections are more topical in the republic”

The Tatarstan office of Russia’s consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor explained to Realnoe Vremya that it was an established practice — if there is no contact with a patient, the person won’t be examined.

“A medical worker decides to do a test when a person seeks medical advice depending on if the patient had symptoms and if he returned from the PRC, South Korea and Iran during the last 14 days.”

The Tatarstan office of Russia’s consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor explained to Realnoe Vremya that it was an established practice — if there is no contact with a patient, the person won’t be examined. Photo: Maksim Platonov

In any case, when one has symptoms of a respiratory virus infection, it is necessary to go to the medical organisation because influenza and viral respiratory infections are more topical in the republic. There are no laboratory tests for people without symptoms and who haven’t travelled to the above-mentioned countries, Realnoe Vremya was told in the watchdog.

While head of the coronavirus quick response team, Vice Premier of Tatarstan Leyla Fazleyeva claimed to Realnoe Vremya that everybody who goes to a state medical institution with such a petition must be tested for coronavirus.

“A person goes to a medical institution, a test is performed, then it is sent to an establishment, we don’t do the test ourselves. The test is done if there is demand, we will do the job,” Fazleyeva offered.

The newspaper’s correspondent named several polyclinics she managed to get through to and where she was redirected to the hospital for infectious diseases.

“Maybe you are replied so by phone, but the test is done when you go there. It is not difficult, a swab test done, and that’s it. If you have told me about it, I will call everybody again,” the vice premier promised.

Vice Premier of Tatarstan Leyla Fazleyeva claimed to Realnoe Vremya that everybody who goes to a state medical institution with such a petition must be tested for coronavirus. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

Not only in Tatarstan

A similar situation is observed across Russia, including in Moscow. Tests are done only in two laboratories of Rospotrebnadzor, while an appointment can be made in a hospital for infectious diseases. The cycle of patients who want to do a test for coronavirus closes at this stage like in Kazan: the polyclinic sends a person to the hospital for infectious diseases that send them back to the polyclinic.

Journalist Yevgeny Berg described such wanders on his Facebook account in late February. Moreover, he returned from Iran, which means he already was in a high-risk group.

“I decided to do a test for coronavirus. It turned out it was impossible to do it in Moscow,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the city administration of Moscow said on 3 March that all patients with viral respiratory infections who arrived from countries with an unfavourable epidemiological situation due to the coronavirus would be received in a new hospital in Kommunarka. But, again, it applies to patients with symptoms only.

Russian medical establishments don’t have any quick coronavirus tests at the moment. As Izvestiya noted, only one test system was officially registered in Russia by late February, and the procedure took up to six hours.

What about the epidemic?

Coronavirus hotspots appeared beyond China a long time ago: it can be contracted in European countries too, which has recently happened to one of our compatriots. The first patient with the coronavirus was detected in Moscow on Monday — it is a 29-year-old male Russian citizen who had a trip to Italy. He was hospitalised, according to the federal Ministry of Health, his disease was mild. Due to this, 24 people who were in contact with the infected citizen were hospitalised, another 83 were put in quarantine. Over 5,500 people are under medical supervision in Moscow now, Mayor of the city Sergey Sobyanin said.

There are six confirmed cases of coronavirus in Russia. Apart from the above-mentioned man, it is three Russians from Diamond Princess ship who are in quarantine in Kazan. Photo: tatarstan.ru

There are six confirmed cases of coronavirus in Russia. Apart from the above-mentioned man, it is three Russians from Diamond Princess ship who are in quarantine in Kazan, two citizens of China in Trans-Baikal and Tyumen Oblast. Meanwhile, the new coronavirus morbidity rate around the world has exceeded 90,000 people: 3,066 people have died, 47, 260 have recovered. Lethal cases besides China were in France, Iran, South Korea, Japan and other countries. The biggest hotspot of the virus spread in Europe is in Italy where over 1,500 people have been infected, while at least 34 have died. The coronavirus has recently been found in Indonesia, the Czech Republic and Dominican Republic for the first time.

Note from Health Ministry

In general at the moment one has to take preventive measures to protect from the coronavirus. The Russian Ministry of Health created a note as early as in January. It reads that the virus can be transmitted by contact and through the air. Extreme fatigue, a feeling of heaviness in the chest, nasal congestion, a sneeze, cough, a sore throat and ache in muscles, paleness, high temperature and fever.

To prevent the infection, one should avoid travels to the hotspots of the disease, keep clear of mass events, contact with patients and wash one’s hands often. The Ministry of Health also recommends wearing a mask (though the effectiveness of this measure was previously questioned) and don’t contact those who have symptoms of the disease.

By Aleksandr Artemyev
Tatarstan