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Exclusive access to medics treating coronavirus – and war wounds

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The AP team of Germany-based video journalist Mstyslav Chernov and Russia-based photographer Dmitri Lovetsky secured exclusive international agency access to a hospital battling coronavirus and casualties in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.

Chernov and Lovetsky had been on the front line in the disputed region for more than a week when they began to see increasing numbers of people becoming sick with the coronavirus. They found a network of volunteer doctors risking their own health to offer care to people seeking refuge in bomb shelters. Repeated requests to return with the doctors to their hospitals and clinics were rebuffed until Chernov tracked down the region’s health minister to personally request access. Chernov said: “After some time (the minister) told me he was diagnosed with COVID-19 a week ago and agreed to give permission to visit hospital and follow the nurse performing tests.”

Wearing full protective gear carried with them from previous reporting in the Ukraine, the pair visited the main hospital in Stepanakert and found terrible scenes of suffering as coronavirus patients mixed with the war-wounded – while doctors and nurses continued to treat people despite suffering from the virus themselves.

Their on-the-ground reporting was crafted into a powerful text story by Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow and the story moved as cross-format agency exclusive the next day.

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