Moscow CNN  — 

The coronavirus pandemic has put the spotlight on the risks faced by frontline health workers, and Russia is no exception. Medical facilities in the country have emerged as one of the main breeding grounds for Covid-19, and two dozen hospitals have had to shut down for long quarantines, with many doctors falling sick.

The numbers are stark. On Thursday, Russia’s total number of reported coronavirus cases surpassed the 100,000 mark, exceeding numbers reported from Iran and China. And of 285 coronavirus hotspots the country is trying to contain, 64% are in hospitals, said Alexander Gorelov, an epidemiologist at the state wellbeing agency Rospotrebnadzor, at a recent meeting chaired by President Vladimir Putin.

For weeks, Russian independent media and non-governmental organizations have reported anonymous pleas from outraged medical workers who said they had been ordered to the frontlines of a public health crisis without adequate protection, and that bureaucratic foot-dragging was costing lives. As the situation worsens, many have become more outspoken, sometimes risking legal action against them.

One high-profile example is St. Petersburg’s Vreden Institute for Traumatology and Orthopedics. Three weeks ago, authorities ordered around 500 patients and medical personnel into lockdown amid a coronavirus outbreak, with the local press dubbing the hospital “Russia’s Diamond Princess” – a reference to the cruise ship that docked in Japan after a massive onboard outbreak.

Initially, the quarantine was supposed to end last week, but public health officials later said the center will stay closed “until further notice.” On Sunday, April 26, a health worker at the hospital posted a cry for help on YouTube.

“I’m coughing, my chest hurts but there is no one to look at it… there is no treatment and no medicine,” the woman said. “No one came to check on us, how we feel, what is the plan for us … when will this end?”

Approximately, 300 people inside Vreden Institute have contracted Covid-19, Rashid Tikhilov, the head of the hospital, told the state-run news agency TASS.

Head of the spinal surgery ward in that hospital, Dmitry Ptashnikov, said in an Instagram post all doctors in his department contracted the coronavirus. In an interview with Kommersant daily, he said the first Covid-19 case was diagnosed April 9th using CT scans but the actual test confirmation came later.

Vreden Institute did not respond to CNN’s request for comment but interim director of the institute Andrey Cherniy said in an Instagram video there were “objective difficulties” with testing and lags in getting the results back from the lab.

According to Cherniy, they were able to streamline the testing process recently and set up a “green zone” to place people who tested negative twice for later discharge.

He thanked hospital staff and patients for their patience, adding that the facility has necessary meds in stock and is working to purchase protective gear.

Two employees at the institute said on condition of anonymity that there has been no adequate protective gear and many doctors who were tested did not get their results back. The lung scans, they said, showed pneumonia.

“All my friends there are sick … 80% of my colleagues,” one of the health care workers told CNN. “[Nurses] are sick but still have to be there and change IVs for the patients.”

Some patients with serious conditions were able to transfer to other clinics. Those who have to stay are on the verge of a breakdown, according to the woman in the YouTube video.

Medical workers wait to enter the red zone to treat coronavirus patients at the Spasokukotsky clinical hospital in Moscow on April 22.

The Vreden Institute is not the only hospital dealing with this. At least