The recent trend of coronavirus spread in Ukraine is not optimistic. During this week, several anti-records of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 were set in the country, and the daily increase in the number of new infections is stubbornly approaching the mark of 6,000 (07.10 ‒ 4753 people, 08.10 ‒ 5397 people, 09.10 ‒ 5804 people, 10.10 ‒ 5728 people). The Ministry of Health reported that two more anti-records have been set in the last 24 hours ‒ 108 patients died and 990 people were hospitalised with coronavirus, which is the highest number in Ukraine during the entire pandemic.

Nobody Wants Strict Quarantine

In total, about 20,000 patients are already hospitalised in Ukraine with a diagnosis of COVID-19, and their number is growing every day. But the number of resuscitators, infectious disease specialists, and doctors in medical institutions is limited. Accordingly, the domestic medical system may not withstand the pressure of a pandemic. This was recently announced by the Minister of Health Maksym Stepanov.

“Ukrainian doctors have been working in a very busy regime for more than half a year in not the best conditions – in those hospitals that have not been repaired or restored for the last 30 years. Doctors are exhausted, but continue to save lives. The Ministry of Health calls on all citizens to comply with current restrictions in order to reduce the burden on doctors,” he said.

Stepanov also added that currently the introduction of strict quarantine in Ukraine is impossible, because “the economics must continue to work, and people – to go to work and receive wages.”

The idea of inexpediency of introduction of severe restrictive measures in the current conditions is supported also by the chief state sanitary doctor of Ukraine Victor Lyashko. However, he noted that this step is not possible if all beds that are prepared for hospitalisation of such patients in hospitals are filled with COVID-19 infected people.

At the same time, Mykhailo Radutskyi, People’s Deputy of “Servant of the People” pro-presidential faction and Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on the Nation’s Health, Medical Care and Health Insurance, proposed the introduction of distance learning and quarantine for the weekend.

“We cannot impose strict quarantine. We understand that. But we can quarantine the day off. When the family stays alone on the weekend, they don’t go anywhere – not to concerts, not to restaurants, not anywhere else. It can be endured, it is not the closure of enterprises, it is not a stop,” the Deputy explained.

Political PR on the Disease

Meanwhile, all political forces in Ukraine are trying to take advantage of the situation and publicise the fight against the coronavirus, as there are only a few days left before the local elections, and it is necessary to reap political dividends.

For example, Viktor Medvedchuk, one of the leaders of the “Opposition Platform For Life” party, also known in Ukraine as Vladimir Putin’s pro-Russian politician and godfather, visited Moscow on 6 October to talk with the Russian president. During the meeting, the Ukrainian politician said in particular that he had recently visited the annexed Crimea, where he and his family members had been vaccinated with the Russian vaccine against COVID-19.

Medvedchuk asked Putin to consider giving Ukraine the drug. The Russian president replied that Russia was ready for such a step, but that an official request for a vaccine should be sent by the Ukrainian authorities.

Many political forces in Ukraine did not like Medvedchuk’s step, especially the representatives of the pro-government “Servant of the People” party, which has been rapidly losing its rating recently (instead, a significant amount of the electorate is flowing to the “OP ‒ for Life”).

On his Facebook page, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Medvedchuk’s statements “pre-election initiatives of certain cynics,” and the Russian vaccine an “untested medicine.” According to the Head of State, the COVID-19 drug will be supplied to Ukraine only from the EU.

“The European Union has confirmed that it will help Ukraine get a real vaccine when it appears and will not be questioned by scientists,” Zelensky wrote.

Earlier, he noted that Ukraine can help the European Union with the production of coronavirus vaccine.

“Unfortunately, we do not have a vaccine yet, but we want to get it. We are prepared in terms of vaccine production. We have companies that are ready to help when we are given vaccines. We are ready to help the EU countries in the mass production of vaccines,” Zelensky said in an interview with Politico Europe.

But Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olga Stefanyshyna said that the EU could provide Ukraine with up to 8 million doses of coronavirus vaccine under the COVAX program.

“On 31 August, the European Union allocated 400 million euros to the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX), which will purchase up to 2 billion doses of vaccine by the end of 2021, and Ukraine has been included in the list of participants in this initiative,” said the official.

At the same time, the Minister of Health of Ukraine Maksym Stepanov stated that the state will purchase only reliable coronavirus vaccines that have passed all stages of clinical trials.

Earlier, medical experts questioned the safety and effectiveness of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, as the third phase of its trials has not yet been completed.

The Cabinet of Ministers Is Intensifying the Struggle

Against the background of growing numbers of new infections, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has adopted a number of additional measures to strengthen the fight against COVID-19.

“We have identified clear measures to strengthen the fight against coronavirus. Additional measures will be taken to increase the number of beds in medical institutions, the provision of beds with oxygen… We are allocating money for this, because we need to be ready to increase the burden on medical institutions,” said Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Friday, 9 October, during a government meeting.

According to him, the heads of regional state administrations are instructed to mobilise all services and establish coordination with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the State Food and Consumer Service, in particular, to hold mass events, the work of institutions where crowds may occur.

Ukraine is preparing to increase the number of patients, and the situation in the country is currently such that, in addition to the coronavirus itself, the authorities will have to fight even harder to try to speculate on the spread of the disease and methods of combating it. In this sense, we will have to confront a rather cunning and unpredictable enemy – Russian bot farms, which have repeatedly been caught spreading fakes about COVID-19 and profitable narratives for the Russian authorities. Meanwhile, some Ukrainian politicians have already made it clear that they will help the aggressor country in this process.

Bohdan Marusyak

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