‘Mystery virus outbreak hits Russia’ as Kremlin deny huge ambulance queues

Russia is reportedly seeing a mystery virus outbreak after massive ambulance queues were seen outside hospitals, as officials have been quick to deny claims a "incomprehensible virus" is spreading in the country.

Newsweek reported how videos circulating online showed rows of ambulances lining up outside infectious disease hospitals in the capital, Moscow.

Russian-language Telegram channel Baza, which is linked to the country's security services, fuelled the rumours by sharing the footage of the emergency services vehicles on Sunday, December 17.

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"A queue of ambulances at Infectious Diseases Hospitals No. 1 and No. 2 in Moscow," Baza reported. "Most of the sick people have pneumonia."

According to Baza, about 30 ambulances gathered at the first hospital, and more than 10 ambulances at the second hospital.

It comes after Russian media outlet MK.ru reported that an "incomprehensible virus began to spread across Russia."

The Kremlin's health department in Moscow, however, moved to quell speculation.

"The situation when several ambulances arrive for hospitalization in an infectious diseases hospital is standard," it said in a statement.

"The growth in the incidence of ARVI and COVID in Moscow has slowed down; the figures for the last week do not exceed the data of the previous period. And COVID incidence rates have been declining for 2 weeks. Over the next 1-2 weeks, the incidence rate is predicted to reach a plateau."

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The department said there is "no significant increase in hospitalizations in the city".

It added that the "morbidity situation is normal and corresponds to the epidemic season."

A statement went on: "Having up to 24 cars on site at the same time is standard practice during peak hours and is not a queue or an emergency situation.

"The hospital regularly monitors the arrival of patients; the situation, when there were about 23 cars on the territory, was resolved within half an hour. In [hospital] No. 2, similarly…the presence of 10 cars on the territory is the absolute norm."

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