In the areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions occupied by Russia, it is not possible to provide assistance to the population within the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic due to a lack of medicines and personnel, as well as a difficult economic situation.

Journalist Serhiy Harmash, a representative of certain districts of the Donetsk region in the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) from Ukraine, made a corresponding statement in a commentary to the Guildhall media outlet.

According to him, the death toll due to the coronavirus pandemic in the territories not controlled by the Ukrainian government is much higher than the world average.

“According to my sources, the situation is very difficult. Even according to the statistics given by the ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR,’ which, of course, cannot be trusted, the situation is worse than the world average. The COVID-19 fatality rate there is more than 9%, while the world average is 5.6%, so we can only imagine what the real scale is,” the journalist said.

He noted that the occupied areas came short of medicines, even antibiotics.

“At the same time, they [Russia’s mercenaries] even closed the entry-exit checkpoints so that people could not go out and buy medicines, although we [the Ukrainian side] opened the checkpoints for this very reason. It seems that the Russians specifically exacerbate the situation, trying to reduce the number of people in the occupied territories who need to be subsidised with pensions and other benefits,” Harmash said.

He also informed of a serious staff shortage in the region.

“Since Russia offers a much higher salary to doctors and Russia itself needs staff because of the pandemic, the healthcare workers from the occupied territories are leaving for Russia. This is a big problem that many do not talk about and seriously underestimate. The healthcare system in the occupied territories cannot respond to the pandemic adequately. ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR’ even cannot afford a lockdown as they are not states and will not be given any international assistance. If lockdown is introduced there, everything will stop. The economic situation also contributes to the fact that people cannot receive aid at a proper level,” the journalist stressed, adding that it is necessary to demand the opening of entry-exit checkpoints so that people could cross the line of contact and receive assistance.

Bohdan Marusyak

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