The Russian rocket launch city at Baikonur, Kazakhstan is suffering a major increase in Covid-19 cases according to local media.
The city and its associated launch facilities has a population of some 40,000 almost all of whom live in Russian housing in the form of cramped apartment blocks. The local authorities say that the official death toll is just 40.
The reports say that launch preparations are still taking place.
“It feels like we are living in a zombie town, so many are ill, people are dying. We decided to take matters into our own hands and started crowdfunding and delivering goods to homes,” resident Gulnat Kadirbeyeva told The Moscow Times by phone.
Most of the people living in Baikonur, one of the former Soviet Union’s ‘science cities’ work for Roscosmos or in tasks related to serving the city and the launch site.
Roscosmos chief Dmitriy Rogozin described the situation in the city as “very difficult,” almost unheard of strong words from an offiicial. Baikonur’s first brush with Covid-19 came when Yevgeny Mikrin, designer general of the Energia aerospace and defense corporation, died from Covid-19 after attending the April 9th launch of a three-man crew to the International Space Station in a Russian capsule.
Kazakhstan itself has logged more than 70,000 cases and 585 deaths. However, data which records pneumonia – closely linked to the Covid virus – in the country shows 3,300 people have died this year.