A Russian court has ordered a woman who escaped from a coronavirus quarantine to return back to the hospital.
Alla llyina was admitted to the hospital in the northern Russian city of St Petersburg on February 6 with a sore throat and was tested for the strain, officially named Covid-19 by the World Health Organisation, because she had returned from China five days earlier.
She broke out of the hospital the next day by disabling an electronic lock in her room after finding out she would have to spend 14 days in isolation instead of the 24 hours that doctors promised her.
In an Instagram post, Ms Ilyina said doctors told her that she tested negative for the virus but still had to remain quarantined for two weeks.
She wrote: “All three tests showed I was completely healthy, so why the hell the quarantine?”
Her departure apparently embarrassed Russian authorities. Several days later, Russia’s public health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor filed a lawsuit against her, asking the court to order compulsory hospitalisation for her.
The virus, which emerged in central China in December, has infected more than 71,000 people, killing 1,770 patients in mainland China and five others elsewhere. China has instituted strict lockdown measures on over 60 million people in central Hubei province and other nations are taking their own measures – including mandatory 14-day quarantines – to make sure the virus does not get established on their territory.
Ms Ilyina’s defence lawyer argued during the court hearing that she did not pose any danger to people around her and noted that she was allowed into a courtroom packed with dozens of people, none of whom – including Russian health authorities – wore masks.
She had told the Fontanka newspaper that her isolation room was dire – no books, no shampoo, no Wi-Fi, a wastebasket that was never emptied and a door secured by an electronic lock. She figured out how to short-circuit the lock.
Health officials maintained that isolating Ms Ilyina was a necessary measure to stop the virus from spreading, claiming it can be latent in a person for up to 24 days. The court sided with them and ordered her to return to the hospital and stay in isolation at least until Wednesday.