The authorities of Russia have dug a trench around a remote village in Siberia for enforcing quarantine after dozens of the residents contracted the coronavirus or COVID-19, which the local officials believe was spread at a traditional shaman ritual.

The village of Shuluta, located around 30 kilometers southeast of the Lake Baikal located in the Buryatia region in Siberia, has reported 37 confirmed cases of the deadly novel virus among the 390 of the residents.

Ninety-five other people are believed to have been in contact with those infected and are also required to quarantine, said the head of the local administration, Ivan Alkheyev. Alkheyev said the outbreak started after dozens of villagers took part in a shaman ritual on June 10, performed by an infected woman.

COVID-19 in Siberia

Coronavirus
Peng Zhiyong (C), head of the department of critical care medicine of Zhongnan Hospital, performs diagnosis on a patient with his colleagues in Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Jan. 24, 2020. Central China's Hubei province reported 105 new confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and seven new deaths on Thursday, the provincial health authorities announced Friday. (Xinhua/Xiong Qi/IANS) IANS

The ditches which encircled Shuluta were dug on June 29 as a measure to stop tourists from driving though the village to nearby Tunka National Park, as well as to limit movement by the local residents, some of whom were sceptical about an order to self-isolate. "I don't believe it! There should at least be symptoms and I don't have any," local resident Engelsina Shaboyeva, who has tested positive for the coronavirus, told a regional television crew filming in the village along with a group of volunteers who went to bring food.

Another resident, Svetlana Shaglanova, whose husband died after a stroke and had tested positive for the virus, said she did not agree with the diagnosis. "They put that he died of the virus on the papers, but it is not true, it was just a stroke," Shaglanova said. Russia's consumer safety watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said those who performed the shaman ritual despite a ban on public events in the region could face a fine.

The only road to the village which was not cut off by the ditch is now patrolled by local officials and Russian national guards who allow only ambulances and food deliveries in. Russia's official coronavirus case tally, the fourth largest in the world, rose to 687,862 on Monday.

(With agency inputs)