Staunton, April 15 – Many Russian construction projects, both initiated by the state and by quasi-private giant firms, require that the workers needed to complete them be brought in from around the country and housed in barracks, a kind of housing that provides almost an ideal breeding ground for the spread of pandemics like the coronavirus.
Many are calling for Moscow to suspend such projects now and divert the money saved to the needs of the population (e.g., windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/04/putins-view-of-russian-state-why-he.html). But as news spreads about these places becoming hotspots for the illness, others may add their voices to such appeals.
A construction site north of Murmansk is one such place. There, 4600 workers have to be flown in and put up in cramped barracks. So far 206, have tested positive for the virus, making it “the fastest-growing coronavirus outbreak” in the Russian North, the Barents Observer reports (thebarentsobserver.com/ru/obshchestvennost/2020/04/belokamenka-samyy-bystro-rastushchiy-ochag-zabolevaniya-na-severe-rossii).
Officials are rushing to build field hospitals to deal with this outbreak, but it is unclear whether they have any means to prevent the real danger that this outbreak represents: Workers from there routinely rotate in and out of Belokamenka to other parts of Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus.
Thus, outbreaks in such out of the way places – and there are many of them in the Russian North and east of the Urals – can become transmission belts leading to the spread of this disease and others like it not only to the rest of the Russian Federation but also to Russia’s neighbors as well.