Over 140 Russians have been quarantined in Siberia after returning from the coronavirus outbreak area in Hubei province. The detainees are confined to their rooms but have been putting on a lively social media show, chatting with well-wishers and posting photos and videos of their situation.
The one disturbing note from the otherwise upbeat Instagram and TikTok feed from the quarantine facility was a hint that at least one of the residents has taken ill and is being checked for the Wuhan virus. The official word from the Russian government is none of the evacuees from Wuhan has displayed symptoms of infection yet. The virus is believed to be able to inhabit humans for up to two weeks without causing visible signs of illness.
“The quarantine is pretty hands-off and easy,” said evacuee Pavel Lichman. “The only thing is that we’re not allowed to come into contact with the people who are in the neighboring rooms. We don’t leave our rooms. They bring us food. Doctors come in to test us: check our temperatures, inspect our throats, and measure the amount of oxygen in our blood.”
Lichman, a professional model, put together a fitness routine with the space and materials available to him and created a quarantine workout video.
Reuters reported the Siberian subjects, which number at 144, are talking with other people under quarantine for the Wuhan virus around the world and comparing notes about their experiences.
“The Belgians are in a military hospital and they have beer. They’re allowed out and they can wander the corridors in masks. We have total imprisonment. Some of the French are in Marseille with a view of the sea,” one of the Russians said glumly.
The quarantine facility is located in a convalescent center near the city of Tyumen in Siberia. Residents confirmed early reports that the complex is under armed guard, but they do not seem terribly disturbed by the presence of Russian National Guard troops. Much of the humor in their social media feeds concerns the drab architecture and the goofy green-and-white “prison clothes” they are required to wear, an outfit they have made comical efforts to treat as stylish. Facility staffers wear hazmat suits.
View this post on Instagram
Могу себе представить негодование жителей Тюмени из за нашего приезда😅 Но напомню еще раз: нас сразу отвезли прямиком из самолета в санаторий, все были в масках, никакого контакта с другими людьми. Теперь мы будем сидеть на карантине 2 недели не выходя за пределы номеров. Не понимаю откуда столько хейта и паники🏼♀️ Чувствую, ночью нас ждет святая инквизиция 😁♀️ #ухань #китай #china #wuhan #russia #тюмень #санаторий
The UK Guardian dubbed it “Russia’s strangest reality show,” which is really saying something, because some joker once announced a reality show set in Siberia that would allow the participants to rape and murder each other, and it took a while for anyone to realize it was a hoax.
A few of the participants in the Siberian quarantine exercise questioned the need to strip them of all possessions and keep them under guard in remote Siberia. Most of them apparently did not realize the military aircraft that picked them up in Wuhan were taking them to Siberia, a frigid region none of them appear to hail from.
One of the evacuees posted photos of the military cargo plane that made the ten-hour flight from Wuhan to Tyumen, revealing a sparse interior with hard benches, few seat belts, deafening engine noise, and two camping tents employed as improvised toilets. The jets were ostentatiously disinfected with TV cameras rolling after the Wuhan passengers were dropped off.
The facility is apparently not remote enough for the tastes of local residents who were quoted by the Guardian saying they were unhappy to be hosting the world’s superstar contagious disease.
“I don’t understand where all the hate and panic comes from. I feel like the holy inquisition is waiting for us at night,” one of the quarantined Russians complained.
Russians living across the rest of the country are reportedly nervous about the quarantine and evidently have little faith in the ability of their government to deal with a virus outbreak.
“Let them stay there. Why the hell would we want them spitting out their contagion here?” one Russian Instagram user said of the Siberian quarantine. “They’ve crawled out like rats from various cities,” another spat.