206 workers test positive for Covid-19 at Novatek’s Arctic construction site

More than 200 workers have been infected with Covid-19 at an LNG megaproject in the Murmansk region of Russia.  

According to Novaya Gazeta, the outbreak occurred on a site where Russian contractor Velesstroy is constructing a shipyard.

The yard will become part of the $21bn Arctic LNG 2 project being built for Novatek, Russia’s largest private natural gas supplier (see further reading).

According to the Russian media, the first case on the site was detected on 6 April. A week later, 81 people were infected, a number that leapt to 206 the next day. Most of those testing positive were living in the village of Belokamenka, near the northern port of Murmansk, and all were employees of organisations working for Novatek.

The village accounts for most of the 268 cases of coronavirus detected in the Murmansk region as of 14 April. Novatek said that all those testing positive had been sent to hospital.

Novatek did not say how many had been hospitalised, but the Ministry of Emergencies has set up a mobile hospital with 50 beds in the village, where a lock-down has been ordered.

Construction work has not stopped on the site, a decision supported by Andrey Chibis, the Murmansk region governor.

According to the Meduza news site, the Murmansk regional government is buying 120 electronic tracking bracelets to monitor patients confirmed to have Covid-19 and who are recovering from the virus at home.

When complete, the Novatek shipyard will build a fleet of floating gas liquefaction plants.

On Wednesday, Russia reported 3,388 new cases of the virus, a record daily rise, bringing its overall nationwide tally to 24,490. Some 198 people diagnosed with the virus have now died, an overnight rise of 28.

Image: Novatek’s Yamal plant, the largest LNG facility in the Arctic Circle (Novatek)

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