Russia’s Arctic virus hotspot to put workers on cruise ship
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A construction site in the Russian Arctic which has emerged as a major coronavirus hotspot will put some of its workers on a cruise ship, the regional governor said Friday, as a woman was found dead.
The site near the village of Belokamenka in the Murmansk region has over 10,000 workers building the LNG Construction Centre, which will supply gas platforms for the $20 billion Arctic LNG 2 project of Russian company Novatek.
Murmansk governor Andrei Chibis on Friday said some 1,079 workers at the site have tested positive for the coronavirus, accounting for more than 80 percent of the region’s total cases.
He said a cruise ship called Princess Anastasia, which can carry 2,500 people, has been sent to Belokamenka to help control the spread of the infection.
“The liner is on its way to Murmansk… so that there are additional capacities for placing people,” he said in a briefing streamed on the internet.
A construction company involved in the project, VelesStroi, said Friday that a 51-year-old woman who worked as a cleaner on the premises had died.
The woman tested positive for the coronavirus on April 23 but “there was no reason for hospitalization because of weak clinical symptoms,” said the statement published on the official VelesStroi website.
The press release was later deleted but the official coronavirus Telegram channel for the Murmansk region said the woman’s two coronavirus tests were negative.
Governor Chibis earlier this week met President Vladimir Putin, assuring him that the Belokamenka hotspot had been “localized” and workers were being treated at a mobile hospital.
“We have not stopped the project… because the project is of principal importance for the economy of the region and the entire country,” Chibis said.
Several sites associated with Russia’s energy sector, where people from all over the country work long shifts and live close together, have emerged as infection hotspots in recent weeks.
On Friday, the emergency ministry delivered a mobile hospital to Gazprom’s Chayanda gas deposit in Yakutia, after workers staged several protests over work and sanitation conditions.
Russia has reported a total of 114,431 coronavirus cases and 1,169 deaths up to Friday. (AFP)