Three doctors in Russia have fallen out of hospital windows in the span of two weeks, two of them have openly criticised the response the country has had to the coronavirus pandemic.
Out of the three, two of them have reportedly died and one remains in a critical condition.
The incidents have raised questions and speculation on the treatment of frontline healthcare workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Two of the three doctors had been outspoken critics on Russia's lack of preparedness for the coronavirus and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shortages for medical workers on the frontlines.
Russian authorities are investigating the three separate incidents.
Two dead, one in critical condition
Alexander Shulepov, 37, a paramedic in the city of Voronezh, is in critical condition after suffering from a skull fracture as a result of a fall out of a second-floor window. Russia-based online newspaper The Moscow Times reported that he fell due to “unknown circumstances” at the facility where he was being treated for coronavirus.
On April 22, the same day as he was admitted to the hospital, Shulepov's colleague Alexander Kosyakin posted a video of Shulepov claiming that he was forced to continue working at the hospital after he had contracted the disease.
Three days later, Shulepov withdrew his claims, saying he was "overwhelmed by emotions" at the time of the video. Many in Russia believe that he might have been “under pressure” to do so.
"[Shulepov] is [in] an intensive care unit, as far as I know in a serious condition, last time I spoke to him was on the 30th of April, we checked in with each other," CNN quoted Kosyakin in an interview.
"He felt fine, he was getting ready to get discharged from the hospital ... and all of a sudden this happened,” he added.
On May 1, Yelena Nepomnyashchaya, the interim head doctor at a hospital in Krasnoyarsk, succumbed to her injuries following a fall from the fifth floor on April 25, according to a reported by US-based Fox News.
Nepomnyashchaya reportedly fell out of the window after a videoconference with regional health officials to discuss turning the hospital where she worked into a facility to treat coronavirus patients.
Natalya Lebedeva, who served as chief of emergency medical service at Star City, a cosmonaut training centre outside Moscow, was being treated for a potential case of COVID-19, before she died after a fall from the hospital where she was admitted, the Business Insider reported.
Netizens react to 'mysterious' incidents
Social media users reacted to the “odd” series of incidents.
Tweep @olgaNYC1211 wrote: “OMG again! Alexander Shulepov who is a doctor from Voronezh fell out the 2nd floor window after complaining about working with coronavirus. My Twitter feed the past 10 days is hospital workers in Russia falling out of windows. This is horrible.”
Twitter user @originalspin posted: “An odd symptom of COVID-19 has been detected in Russia: doctors who speak out about lack of PPE are falling out of windows.”
Tweep @ianbremmer shared a link to a news story about the incidents and wrote: “It’s dangerous enough work being a first responder these days. Try being an emergency doctor in Russia:”
Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed in April that the coronavirus situation was fully under control in the country. Soon after, a lockdown was imposed and then extended till May 11. Later, Putin also warned Russian citizens that they had still not felt the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a report published by American media agency BuzzFeed, some observers have said that Russian authorities may be underreporting the number of coronavirus cases and deaths because of a low rate of testing.