In Kharkiv, critical Covid patients at the mercy of bombings

At the Kharkiv Regional Hospital for Infectious Diseases, medics escort COVID-19 patients to the basement bomb shelter as the air raid sirens sound.

But the most seriously ill, requiring a constant supply of oxygen, cannot be moved, even if it means exposing them to Russian bombing.

“Those in critical condition stay in their rooms. If we bring them here, they will simply die,” said hospital director Pavlo Nartov.

“Most of our patients are on oxygen all the time. They can’t be turned off the oxygen.”

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Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city in the east of the country, has been attacked by Russia for weeks, leaving doctors with an impossible dilemma.

The regional emergency service said Wednesday that at least 500 city residents have been killed since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

Mayor Ihor Terekhov said in a television interview on Tuesday that more than 600 buildings have been destroyed in Kharkiv, including schools, kindergartens and hospitals. “The Russian military is constantly bombarding from the ground and from the air,” he said.

Nartov is relieved that his hospital has been spared for now, but they are preparing for the worst. “The situation is difficult and tense. As you can see, sick people, covered windows, shelling from morning to night. Thank God our territory, our hospital has not been affected yet,” he said. declared.

Staff are now taught to use a gas mask, in the event of a chemical attack.

Natalya Titarenko, who works at the hospital, said the building she lives in and her sister’s were both hit by Russian shells.

She remembers hearing a loud noise.

“My husband said ‘they hit the house’, there was a cloud of dust in the apartment and our neighbors started screaming. I opened the door, it was undamaged, I I opened and saw in the yard a curtain of smoke, dust, broken glass everywhere, blown doors.

“There was non-stop fighting for three days, very loud.”

Russia says it does not target civilians, describing its actions as a “special operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and its Western allies call it a baseless pretext for Russia’s invasion of the democratic country of 44 million people.


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