COVID-19 nurse with swimsuit under her gown exposes 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.

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.

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.

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.

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“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.

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.”

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.

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