While everyone is now pointing fingering at China and Wuhan in particular, branding "Chinese coronavirus", while ignoring its scientific name COVID-19, I'm sure it's worth recalling a really low-profile incident that took place in Russia's Novosibirsk in September 2019.
There, an explosion rocked the premises of the state-owned Vector Virology Research Center. FYI, this research center hosts one of the world's most extensive collections of top hazardous viruses. In the immediate aftermath of that blast, Russian watchdog Rospotrebnadzor claimed there was no biohazard materiel in the affected office.
Perhaps it was actually so, but it's rather curious to hear the news in the Russian media these days that this exact center has allegedly completed the first phase of creating a coronavirus vaccine. If this isn't yet another lie of Russian propaganda, such a breakthrough can only be explained by suggesting that the center had the relevant substance for research long before the pandemic started.
By the way, Vector's representatives are part of the "rescue group" deployed in Italy by the Russian defense ministry.
Of course, some may argue that Novosibirsk is thousands of kilometers from Wuhan, but hey, LA is even further from Wuhan, right? Besides, Russia's Siberia and the Far East have a considerable share of Chinese in their ethnic composition. Also, the city of Novosibirsk is located in close proximity to the China border.
It's possible that what actually happened at the Novosibirsk-based facility in September 2019 wasn't fully disclosed to the public, and the increase in respiratory infections' rate and mortality from pneumonia across the region are both directly related to that incident. Moreover, I repeatedly pointed to the fact that the Far Eastern and Siberian regional media regularly reported a catastrophic rate of respiratory infections and pneumonia spread.
Obviously, Russia has been concealing the real situation with the epidemic for a much longer period, and when Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko spoke about the coronavirus in Russia, noting that the country was "all on fire", he actually meant it.
Meanwhile, as the authorities deploy more Russian Guard and army troops in Moscow, large-scale military exercises are being organized in the Urals, Siberia, and the Volga region to work out isolating the entire areas "hit by the virus". The exercises are run by the Central Military District command, who set the so-called filtration points in Kemerovo, Samara, Saratov, Sverdlovsk, and Chelyabinsk regions, as well as Perm Territory.
An interesting nuance, isn't it? The isolation exercises are being carried out precisely in the areas from which the coronavirus could actually have started spreading, and where the number of diagnosed carriers should have been the highest. But if we look at the epidemiological map of the Russian Federation, Moscow is now seen as the epicenter of the epidemic. What a paradox, right? Or, rather, it's the Kremlin amending own scenarios on the go.
So, the situation is as follows. The coronavirus started spreading across Russia precisely from the mentioned regions of Siberia and the Far East. But the scale of the epidemic was hushed up as much as possible, for the sake of implementing the long-sought plan for Vladimir Putin's coronation on April 22. But, the situation has deteriorated so drastically that now the main efforts will be focused on saving Moscow.
As part of the "exercises", the "hottest" districts will be isolated, while in Moscow, despite the fact that this wasn't announced in Putin's address to the nation, an emergency will in fact be introduced.
Muscovites are already being prepared in media for the impending restrictions on movement around the city, including in own cars and public transport. The emergency will be introduced after the law is adopted granting the relevant powers to the Cabinet. The number of infection treatment centers being deployed suggests an extremely high demand for them that might last for quite long.
But before restrictions kick in, an information campaign will be held, with reference to the latest developments in Italy, where the Russian military "aid group" will contribute to emotionally-charged reports. After all, airing such reports about the virus apocalypse elsewhere is much better than recognizing that the end of the world has long been knocking on Russia's own door – and this knocking is only getting louder.