MOSCOW — Russian investigators have opened a criminal probe into a leading infectious-disease specialist who allegedly failed to self-isolate following a trip to Spain.
The probe was launched on March 23 after an infectious-disease professor and top health-care consultant in the southern region of Stavropol became patient zero for the coronavirus there.
The woman, who is accused of negligence and concealing information that endangered the life or health of people, faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
She “went on holiday to Spain, where she was from March 6 to 9, without telling her superiors” and did not self-isolate upon her return, according to the Investigative Committee.
It added in a statement that the woman “continued her usual routine, giving lectures in the university, attending conferences” and was eventually diagnosed with the coronavirus on March 17 after she felt unwell.
Stavropol was put on high alert on March 18 the day after the infectious disease specialist was diagnosed, which included a measure obliging people coming back from countries reporting coronavirus outbreaks to report about their trip.
Officials in the Stavropol region said that at least 11 people who have been in contact with the woman are suspected of having contracted the deadly disease.
Investigators have not released the name of the woman, but local media have identified her as Irina Sannikova, a professor at Stavropol State Medical University’s Department for Infectious Diseases, who is also the regional Health Ministry’s chief freelance infectious-disease expert.
Russia has reported 438 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Health officials in Moscow said on March 19 that an infected person died due to the virus, but the report was quickly changed by other officials who said that while the person who died had the virus, it was not the cause of death.