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Monday Feb 17 2020

Russian woman escapes hospital, ordered back into coronavirus quarantine

A man is pictured wearing a medical mask in the Red Square in Moscow, Russia, January 28, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/Files

MOSCOW: A Russian woman who escaped a hospital where she had been kept as a precaution against coronavirus was ordered to return to the facility by a local court on Monday.

Alla Ilyina, who was quarantined at St. Petersburg’s Botkin Hospital for Infectious Diseases after she reported having a sore throat following a trip last month to China, had staged an elaborate escape, saying she was being kept against her will.

Ilyina described on Instagram how she had short-circuited an electronic lock on her door in order to escape and that she had not been allowed to leave despite doctors giving her a clean bill of health.

The escape, which raised questions about the effectiveness and rigidity of Russia’s coronavirus quarantine measures, prompted St. Petersburg’s chief sanitary doctor to sue Ilyina for flouting quarantine rules and jeopardising public health.

“Ilyina is subject to forced hospitalisation,” St. Petersburg’s Petrogradsky District Court said, adding that her hearing had taken place in a courtroom with a germicidal lamp.

Her lawyer, Vitaly Cherkasov, said she would appeal the verdict.

Cherkasov told Reuters that Ilyina would need three negative tests for the coronavirus before she could be released. He could not provide a timeline for the completion of these tests.

He said Ilyina was in good spirits despite the ruling.

“She has everything necessary in her room, even a television which she didn’t have last time,” he said. “She is satisfied with the conditions at the moment.”

Rospotrebnadzor, the country’s consumer safety watchdog, said last week that more than 20,000 people had been quarantined in Russia upon their arrival from China.

The coronavirus epidemic has killed more than 1,700 people in China, while Russia has reported two cases of the illness — two Chinese nationals who have recovered and been released from hospital.

A Russian citizen was infected with the virus aboard the Diamond Princess cruise liner docked in Yokohama, the Russian embassy in Japan said earlier on Monday.