Ukraine’s coronavirus epidemic reaches peak

Ukraine’s coronavirus epidemic reaches peak
The number of recovered cases from the COVID-19 epidemic exceeded the number of newly infected on May 13 for the first time as the government gets ready to start relaxing the lockdown next week
By bne IntelliNews May 15, 2020

The number of recovered cases from the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic exceeded the number of those newly infected on May 13 for the first time since the pandemic began in Ukraine, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov told a press briefing the morning of May 14.

Coronavirus infections rose by 422 cases, or 2.6%, in 24 hours to a total of 16,847, he said, citing statistics from the ministry’s Center for Public Health.

Recovered patients rose 427 to a total of 4,143 cases. An estimated 456 people have died from the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus, an increase of 17 cases on the previous day. An estimated 70 of the 422 newly infected (16.6%) were medical workers.

Ukraine was late to the epidemic and imposed a strict lockdown fairly quickly. Typically for an emerging market in Eastern Europe, with the weak state of the public health service the country could not afford to let the virus get out of control without quickly swamping the medical system’s ability to respond.

However, as an emerging market the economic damage done by the lockdown is even more painful than in developed markets, which are better equipped to absorb the stop-shock. The government has been keen to reopen shops and factories, and owners and workers have demonstrated outside government offices calling for restrictions to be reopened as soon as possible.

The second phase of quarantine relaxations will begin on May 22 and will allow for the work of public sporting events (without audiences), hotels and standardised college admissions testing, President Zelenskiy said in a May 13 video announcement.

“I know that everyone doesn’t know now how the summer will be: how to plan vacations; when planes and trains will be allowed; when movie theatres, beaches and the metro will work again. The answer is simple: this all depends on all of us. Every next step of relaxation is possible only when we achieve certain indicators. In particular, a moderate amount of new infection cases and a non-critical occupancy of hospital beds,” he said, calling upon the public to be especially vigilant in the next days, which are “key for launching the next phase of quarantine relaxation.”

The timing and conditions for opening nurseries will be the same as launching intercity and suburban public transport, Prime Minister Shmyhal told Parliament on May 13 in response to an MP’s question.

“Unfortunately, we need to wait it out now. At least for several more weeks, possibly a month, and get positive results in, which we reduce the number of infections and grow in the number of recovered. Children get infected without showing symptoms. Nursery attendants also have their right to have protection, health and not getting sick,” he said.

The same day, Ukraine’s cabinet approved amendments allowing groups of up to eight people to walk in public and up to four customers to sit together at outdoor cafes and restaurants.