Protecting themselves for a shift on the Covid ward is a process the medics at Perm Regional Hospital have fine-tuned over months of practice. They climb quickly into disposable suits before strapping plastic masks tight to their faces. A colleague then helps them on with a double layer of rubber gloves, taped to their wrists.
A year into the pandemic, the virus this team are battling is familiar, but their careful daily routine is a reminder of the risk – it was last autumn that Covid-19 struck hardest in Perm, on its sweep from Moscow across the regions, and the number of sick and dead shot up.
But there is very little talk in Russia of the death toll from Covid-19. The full data revealed by excess mortality is not secret, but it’s never highlighted, and the preliminary tally published each day by the government significantly underplays the impact.