‘Keep Journalists Uninformed’
14:47 25.03.2020 — Society
What's going on in Zhytkavichy, where the coronavirus was detected.
Many masked people, a re-equipped polyclinic and workers who were ordered to keep journalists uninformed. Radio Svaboda visited Zhytkavichy, Homel region. On March 22, there was detected the first case of the coronavirus COVID-19.
On Monday, all were treated with special means; the plant resumed its work.
"We don't understand how the coronavirus reached us," say colleagues of the woman who was taken to an infectious disease hospital in Homel on Sunday. - We thought that we were safe here".
Zhytkavichy locates as far as 220 km both from Minsk and Homel.
According to residents, foreigners could appear only in neighbouring Turau. Specialists from Italy periodically visit the dairy plant there.
In the morning of March 24, everything goes as usual at the factory, where the woman positive for coronavirus works. On March 23, the sanitary-epidemiological center treated the premises with special means. Employees show stains on glass. They have remained since yesterday. During the conversation, they received a call from their superiors.
"We are ordered to keep journalists informed," said the colleagues of the sick woman.
It is known that 5-7 more employees were taken from the plant. The sick woman had contacts with them.
No additional precautions were introduced at the plant. Antiseptics and masks were used here even earlier - before the coronavirus.
One can enter the polyclinic only wearing masks, people with fever have a special entrance...
The most noticeable changes in Zhytkavichy seem to have occurred in the polyclinic. The woman who contracted COVID-19 came here the whole last week. Now it's been disinfected every three hours. The head of the polyclinic told us about it. Scheduled visits have been reduced. Part of the building has been allocated for people with fever. They enter the clinic through a separate entrance to avoid contacts with other patients and doctors.
Patients without medical masks are not allowed into the polyclinic. Both doctors and visitors wear them.
"I came to buy a mask to get into the polyclinic," says one of the visitors.
In the city's pharmacies, masks and antiseptics have become the most needed product in just one day. After the news of the coronavirus, the pharmacy has twice as many customers, a pharmacist said.
"Of course, masks and antiseptics are needed the most," says the pharmacist.
As in most pharmacies in Belarus, there are reusable gauze masks remained. One of them costs Br1.3 in Zhytkavichy.
People's Quarantine. Children are not allowed in school, while older people try not to go outdoors.
Although quarantine has not been officially introduced in Belarus, Zhytkavichy residents try to stay indoors.
A woman, met by correspondents near the polyclinic, said that she left her children at home and didn't let them go to school yesterday. She and her son wore masks.
"As soon as we got information about an outbreak, all the children stayed at home," she said.
A retired woman, who passed by the polyclinic and wore a mask, said she rarely left the house. Now she has to go to the pharmacy to buy medicines and new masks.
"Still, one should spend less time in public places. Especially retired people. I mainly stay indoors. I only go to the store," said the woman.
There was also a woman wearing a mask. She bought two bags of groceries two weeks ahead. "Just in case to have enough for quarantine."
However, schools and kindergartens are officially open, as well as cafes. However, there are a lot of leaflets about coronavirus; there are jars with antiseptic in toilets.
However, some residents believe that no measures should be introduced in the city. Like, for example, a pensioner who left a store.
"While only one person is sick, I think it's too early to do anything," she said.
"I have learned about the coronavirus from TV, not from my superiors."
It's pretty quiet on a weekday at the house where the sick woman lives. Sanitary and epidemiological team was here on Sunday evening, the entrance was treated with special means. However, none of the patient's neighbours agrees to talk to journalists.
Due to the lack of information, there are many rumours in the city about the number of coronavirus patients and the condition of the woman positive for the disease.
"We had leadership from both Zhytkavichy and Homel. Yesterday they said that the coronavirus had not been confirmed. We learned from TV that we have the coronavirus," said the locals met by journalists.