The Hidden Challenges Of Coronavirus

A story from someone who had gone through coronavirus and the labyrinth of bureaucracy and incompetence surrounding it.

The Hidden Challenges Of Coronavirus

The symptoms and consequences of COVID-19 have been widely spread throughout the Internet and maintained the top pages of news feed, but what about the obstacles that are not related to the disease itself? A story from someone who had gone through coronavirus and the labyrinth of bureaucracy and incompetence surrounding it.


It is of no secret that there is a lack of N95 masks, sanitisers or protective equipment in the hospitals, but one of the most bugging aspects is a lack of fully needed equipment on the doctors that visit sick people in their homes in order to take tests. Throughout my time of illness, I've seen several doctors in my house, but only half of them could be called decently prepared. The risk increases drastically, and not only for you and the doctors, but for those they will visit after that.

The Doctors

Another issue is an obvious incompetence. A huge controversy sparkled with the news that students of medical universities were also to be used in a fight against coronavirus, often unwillingly. Some were threatened with expulsion or practise failures. Obviously, students are unable of providing the help on the levels professional doctors do.

However, it's not like doctors are fully aware of what should they do too. I spent five days calling multiple numbers after the end of my 14-day-long quarantine in order to get myself officially off the register base and actually go outside. The reason for that is because the doctors simply did not know how to do that - I got 4 different answers, sometimes extremely contradictory, to the point I could fall under administrative liabity if I actually decided to stick to some of these. The actual answer is simple - you have to get the doctor to check you and wait for them to get you off the register. Usually that happens on the next day.

After all, another problem is a general annoyance of some of the doctors. They have been overworking for a long time and take a huge risk, so they have a right to be understandably irritated, but this is no excuse of rudeness and lack of empathy towards the patients that did nothing wrong. When my mom started choking from pneumonia and called the emergency, the doctor started a dialogue and asking a person irrelevant questions that could totally be avoided, asking a person that literally could not talk due to a lack of breath. Later she showed annoyance with her not answering. Such behaviour should be condemned under any circumstances.

A Very Flawed Testing System

One of HSE professors from Moscow and my dad faced the same problem: false tests. Every person with a suspect of coronavirus has to take one. My dad did and it was negative, meaning he had no COVID. However, it took him visiting a doctor face-to-face a few days later to receive an actual diagnosis: coronavirus. If he decided to not double check, this could potentially lead to much worse consequences. There is a common guess that such mistakes are done with the intention of keeping statistics under control. While we can't say if that's true, I'd recommend everyone to double check just in case.

Social Monitoring

Now we are getting to one of the biggest issues out there - the imfamous masterpiece that is Social Monitoring with its 1,1 rating in Play Market. It's a app developed to determine the GPS of the person under quarantine and makes them take a selfie for few random times throughout the day in order to prove that they did not just leave the phone and walk outside, but are actually home. In order to inform the users of needing a selfie they are supposed to get push up notification. The problem lies in the fact the majority does not get them - meaning the should constantly keep checking the app at least twice in an hour - who would like that? People who don't have a smartphone are supposed to receive the special one just for that - except they don't and get penalties for not downloading the app. People receive penalties even when they do everything needed or after days since their quarantine was finished. People are required to make selfies in the middle of the night. The creators of the app keep promising fixing the mistakes, but no actual effort is put. Going through the comments in Play Market, the fact that something as mediocre and flawed as this is produced by the government is somewhat embarrassing, because such levels of quality may only be expected from school students. Not to mention that the idea of requiring the attention of an ill person to the phone every hour is questionable too - people with a temperature of 39° tend to sleep and feel weak, so the last thing they need is extra stress. Missing the selfie time means a penalty worth of 4,000 roubles, and sum of money government is supposed to receive for all the already existing penalties is close to 300 million roubles.

The entire situation already got the attention of some human rights organizations and a petition on that has approximately 50,000 subscribers - but whether of not the government decides to pay attention to any of that and not pretend like they received no complaints is up to a question.

To conclude, I would remind you to not ignore social distancing. Better safe than sorry!

Text by
Luiza Gashimova