When COVID-19 came to Star City

Image: Samantha Cristoforetti/CC BY 2.0

Star City, Russia (previously at BB), is home to the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. Under Soviet rule, the existence of the town was a state secret. It is still a closed city, with unauthorized visitors prohibited, but people come and go in support of the country's space program. In April, the coronavirus found its way into the city, and into the space center. Dr. Natalya Lebedeva headed the ambulance service for Star City's medical clinic. The paramedics she supervised were among the first known victims of the virus, which is understandable as they come into close contact with sick people, but the authorities were looking for someone to blame for the outbreak. Lebedeva herself fell ill, and was hospitalized.

Her illness wasn't severe. "Her temperature was a little over 37 degrees," or 98.6 Fahrenheit, and "her lungs were affected only to a small degree," her friend Antropova said.

During several calls from the ward, Lebedeva repeatedly said that she was being blamed for being the source of the outbreak, a friend said. "She called me and said … 'I am going to be jailed. It's the end for me.'"

"I said … 'How were you supposed to have prevented this, how? How? Come on. What are you, God?'" the friend recalled.

But Lebedeva was in tears. She said she had been contacted by investigators from the police.

Lebedava did not survive the outbreak, but she didn't die of COVID. Read the account of Star City's ambulance service director in a special report at Reuters.

[via Metafilter]