Authorities in Russia's remote Yamal-Nenets region have reported a breakthrough in the fight against the spread of Covid-19 among shift workers employed in its huge oil and gas industry.

The share of oil and gas shift workers included in the total number of new Covid-19 cases, reported on a daily basis in Yamal-Nenets, dropped to below 20% this week, against over 60% at the beginning of August.

Authorities registered 61 new Covid-19 cases on 23 August, including just 11 shift workers.

In August, the number of new cases in Yamal-Nenets dropped below 100 people per day, taking the region closer to cancelling quarantine and isolation restrictions that had been extended earlier until 31 August.

However, local reports said oil and gas industry workers are already pressing Yamal-Nenets authorities to remove a requirement for them to remain in isolation for 14 days following their arrival to the region.

Authorities have recently prohibited oil and gas companies in the region from using existing dormitories at oil and gas installations to quarantine incoming personnel, saying that they can only place workers in dwellings specifically designated for this purpose.

Another measure introduced recently is a requirement for incoming personnel to pass two independent Covid-19 tests before arrival, using different testing methods.

Recovery rates high

Additionally, authorities have reported a highly successful recovery rate for those infected by Covid-19.

As of 23 August, out of total 13,080 infections reported since the start of the pandemic, 12,526 people were released from hospitals or personal isolation after being tested negative.

Among them is Yamal-Nenets Governor Dmitry Artyukhov, who returned to work in the regional capital of Salekhard last week after testing Covid-19 positive at the end of July.

According to a statement from regional authorities, Artyukhov was permitted back after two of his tests returned negative for the novel coronavirus.

Yamal-Nenets is estimated to host the highest number of shift workers in Russia because of its harsh climate and vast unexplored territories.

According to estimates, before the start of the pandemic, the region had more than 100,000 people on shift for the total number of residents of about 500,000.

The region is expected to see an increasing influx of such workers as companies including the country’s largest gas independent Novatek and state-controlled oil producer Gazprom Neft, proceed with large scale oil and gas developments on the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas.