Coronavirus: Russian woman sent back to quarantine after elaborate escape from hospital

Kate Ng
Alla Ilyina speaks to the media in a courtroom in St.Petersburg, Russia: AP

A Russian woman who staged an elaborate escape from hospital has been ordered to return to a quarantine facility as a precautionary measure against coronavirus by a Russian court.

Alla Ilyina, 32, was put in coronavirus quarantine after she reported having a sore throat following a trip to Hainan, China, in January.

She was quarantined at St Petersburg’s Botkins Hospital for Infectious Diseases and was not allowed to leave despite testing negative for coronavirus.

Ms Ilyina said she was ordered to stay in quarantine for two weeks despite testing negative.

“All three tests showed I was completely healthy, so why the hell the quarantines?” she wrote in an Instagram post on 7 February.

She later described how she short-circuited an electronic lock on her door and escaped to her flat in St Petersburg.

“I drew up a map before and made a detailed plan,” she told The Moscow Times. “When evening came and the medical staff had let their guard down, I short-circuited the magnetic lock in my containment room and opened the door.

“I studied physics, which helped. Our Constitution guarantees freedom. I didn’t understand why I had to stay in a hospital cage.”

Attempts by police to bring her back to the hospital by force were resisted by Ms Ilyina, who refused to open the door to them.

Her escape prompted St Petersburg’s chief sanitary doctor to sue Ms Ilyina for breaking quarantine rules and endangering public health.

Her hearing took place in a courtroom equipped with a germicidal lamp, said St Petersburg’s Petrogradsky District Court, who ruled she “is subject to forced hospitalisation”.

Vitaly Cherkasov, who represented Ms Ilyina, said she would appeal the verdict and would need to test negative for coronavirus three times before she could be released.

He added she was in good spirits despite the ruling and said: “She has everything necessary in her room, even a television which she didn’t have last time.

“She is satisfied with the conditions at the moment.”

According to local media, Ms Ilyina isn’t the first person to have escaped quarantine while coronavirus precautions are ongoing.

A mother and her son reportedly jumped out of a hospital window to flee in the city of Samara.

Guzel Neder, 34, and her son were put in quarantine for four days after they also returned from Hainan, but she discovered she was pregnant while in hospital.

St Petersburg resident Alla Ilyina after a hearing of a complaint brought by Natalia Bashketova, St Petersburg's Chief Sanitary Physician, at the Petrogradsky District Court (Peter Kovalev/TASS)

She told The Moscow Times she was afraid of being infected by other patients and that “the conditions there were awful”.

“Doctors were very unprofessional and not wearing any protective gear,” Ms Neder said. Both she and her son were reportedly given clean bills of health three days after leaving the hospital.

There have been two confirmed cases of the virus in Russia, both Chinese nationals who have recovered and been released from hospital.

Over 20,000 people have been quarantined in Russia upon their arrival from China, said the country’s consumer safety watchdog.

One Russian citizen aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship currently quarantined off the port of Yokohama, Japan, was infected, said the Russian embassy in Japan on Monday.

Additional reporting by agencies

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