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Nurse with swimsuit under her clear gown exposes coronavirus PPE issues in Russia

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Health-care workers in Russia are calling for better personal protective equipment (PPE) in their fight against the coronavirus after an unidentified nurse captured viral attention for wearing a swimsuit beneath a transparent plastic gown.

The woman was photographed at a hospital in Tula, a city roughly 175 kilometres south of Moscow, according to the local Tula News outlet, which obtained the photos from a reader. Local media reported that she was treating COVID-19 patients in her underwear, but later reports revealed that she was wearing a swimsuit.

READ MORE: Doctors pose nude to call for more PPE in Germany’s coronavirus fight

The woman reportedly wore the swimsuit beneath her plastic gown because she felt “hot” under the stifling material. She was working at the Tula Regional Clinical Hospital at the time, where health-care workers in the coronavirus ward are required to wear PPE throughout their long shifts.

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The woman has not identified herself or spoken out about the incident. However, some outlets have been referring to her as “Nurse Nadia.”

Photos of the woman quickly went viral on Russian and international social media channels, where many users cracked jokes about her bedside manner.

A nurse is shown wearing underwear beneath her PPE at the Tula Regional Clinical Hospital in Russia in May 2020.
A nurse is shown wearing underwear beneath her PPE at the Tula Regional Clinical Hospital in Russia in May 2020. Tula News

However, several medical professionals pointed to the photo as evidence that Russia must do more to equip its doctors with proper PPE so that they’re not overheating on the job.

“Try putting a garbage bag on yourself, make a hole for the head and wrap yourself with tape and you will feel what a protective suit is,” one critic wrote in response to the Tula News story. She added that health-care workers should at least be given something that isn’t transparent.

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Anastasia Vasilyeva, head of the Alliance of Doctors and an outspoken critic of the Kremlin’s coronavirus response, said the woman should have been issued a better-quality isolation gown for her work.

“You can see in the picture she was wearing some kind of plastic suit,” Vasilyeva told the Daily Storm news outlet. “An anti-plague suit shouldn’t be transparent and must be made of a completely different fabric.”

A nurse is shown wearing underwear beneath her PPE at the Tula Regional Clinical Hospital in Russia in May 2020.
A nurse is shown wearing underwear beneath her PPE at the Tula Regional Clinical Hospital in Russia in May 2020. Via Tula News

The regional health ministry says it reprimanded the woman for violating its guidelines.

“Employees were reminded of the need to comply with the requirements for sanitary clothing and appearance,” the ministry said, according to a translation by RT.

One of her colleagues at the hospital said she’s stressed out by the attention and concerned for her job, according to Komsomolskaya Pravda.

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Russia is currently dealing with the second-largest outbreak of COVID-19 in the world, with more than 317,000 positive cases and over 3,000 deaths recorded to date.

While many nations have openly celebrated their front-line workers during the pandemic, Russian citizens have been more hostile toward their doctors and nurses, The Associated Press reports.

The country has seen a rash of suicides and a bizarre trend of doctors falling out of windows after criticizing the government.

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Health-care workers have also frequently criticized the nation’s lack of protective equipment and its questionable infection control procedures, and many say they’ve been threatened with death or prosecution for speaking out.

Vasilyeva, for example, was jailed overnight last month after she accused the government of undercounting its coronavirus numbers.

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“Nurse Nadia” has not said whether her outfit was a protest against conditions at the hospital.

Staff and patients reportedly did not complain about her clothing at the time of the incident.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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