Sunday, April 19, 2020

Ingushetia Caucasus Region Hardest Hit by Pandemic and Faces Massive Losses, Medical Worker Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 18 – The independent Forganga portal has published a letter from a health care worker in Ingushetia who wishes to remain anonymous lest he suffer official reprisals. It specifies that in per capita terms, Ingushetia faces the greatest spread of the pandemic in the North Caucasus and should expect a large number of deaths in the coming week.

            As of yesterday, Ingushetia has 191 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, fewer than its neighbors; but in the number of infections per 100,000 population, it far exceeds any of them, with 38, compared to 6.8 in Chechnya and Daghestan and 9.2 in North Ossetia (

            These figures show, the medical worker continues, how effective the tough quarantine measures in Chechnya have been and how “pathetic” the situation is in Ingushetia, a much smaller republic.

            There are several reasons for Ingushetia’s sad position. The main one is “distrust in the authorities and doctors,” followed by denial of the existence of the illness. As a result, people have continued to take part in large gatherings like marriages, funerals and religious ceremonies, and continued to go to stores “and not always grocery ones.”

            Those in denial because they don’t know anyone with the disease or who has died of it are going to be confronted with a new situation in the next few weeks. The number of infections and deaths is rising – the peak is still two to three weeks away -- and shortly those in denial will see how wrong they are.

            Not only will Ingushetia continue to have more cases per capita, the medical worker says; but it is likely to have more deaths as well given the large number of cancer victims with immune systems compromised by chemotherapy, the large share of older people with other illnesses, and the fact that several generations of a family often live together.

            Some in Ingushetia are comforting themselves with the idea that the virus isn’t killing people but rather other diseases. But “patients are dying.” And that should be enough for people to take protective measures.  Show concern for the elderly or face the prospect that a large swath of them will soon die, changing Ingush society forever.

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