Ukraine listed among countries worst at coping with COVID-19

Dr. Vladyslav Karpenko, infectious disease specialist, treated the first coronavirus patient in his hospital. Photo: Kyiv Volunteer Headquarters Facebook page. 

Ukraine

Editor’s Note

Statistics show that Ukraine’s preliminary result of a nearly two-month coronavirus lockdown with harsh restrictive measures is that the country has only managed to slow down the spread of the coronavirus without overcoming it while suffering huge economic losses. This means that, despite Ukraine’s relatively low official numbers of COVID-19 infections, the situation can spiral out of control now that the quarantine is eased, and Ukraine can become a hotspot of the disease like its neighbors Belarus and Russia.

Two months of quarantine brought significant economic losses to Ukraine that can cost several percent of the country’s GDP this year, but all the government’s measures have only led to a temporary draw in the fight against the coronavirus. Ukraine, as per official data, is atop a plateau on the chart of the infection’s spread: the daily amount of new cases is not going up, but it’s not falling, either. At the same time, the tally of COVID-19 patients continues to grow. Ukraine is among the countries that haven’t been able to overcome the pandemic yet, according to the website endcoronavirus.org.

Countries that are losing the fight against COVID-19, or like Ukraine, are at a stalemate in fighting the spread of the infection:

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Texty.org.ua explored reasons that had led to the current situation. There are several of the government’s failures to be mentioned.

In fact, the introduction of quarantine in a timely manner prevented Ukraine from the collapse of the medical system (although, the charts of the population’s mobility show that the Ukrainian lockdown was one of the mildest in the world).

However, at the end of April, the effectiveness of some restrictive measures started coming to naught as people were making it out of self-isolation in their own way – some followed bad examples such as the Veliur restaurant that made headlines because it remained open for Zelenskyy’s MPs amid the quarantine, while other people due to the economic impossibility to stay at home any longer.

Countries that have nearly managed to overcome the first wave of the disease:

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Medical masks could be a relatively cheap and effective way to limit the spread of infection, however, people wore them responsibly (on their faces, not on their chins) only in the first month of the lockdown. To make matters worse, the percentage of people wearing masks was insufficient even at the beginning of the quarantine. It is another communication failure by the government that failed to persuade citizens to take mask-wearing seriously.

Finally, the key point is testing for COVID-19, which Ukraine does at a much smaller rate than other countries. The situation has not improved much since mid-March when the issue was revealed as Ukraine remains at the bottom of the list in terms of the number of per-capita tests in the world and as of 8 May, it was last among the European countries by this criterion.

A very likely scenario for Ukraine for the end of the quarantine restrictions is that just three to four weeks later, the lack of sufficient testing may lead to a new wave of rapid growth in the number of patients. Without another lockdown, this possible second wave can be stopped only by strict self-discipline in social distancing, mass mask-wearing, and boosting the number of tests to detect hotbeds of disease in a timely manner. Is this possible? So far, we haven’t seen the government’s ability to ensure at least one of these points. Ukrainians may find themselves quarantined once again approximately in the middle of the summer.

However, a new quarantine without mass testing and other measures can take Ukraine back to a similar state of unstable equilibrium, though with a larger number of COVID-19 patients. Again, the country will suffer great economic losses, and, at the same time, it won’t be able to overcome the spread of the virus completely. And the new economic downturn will significantly exceed the several dozens of millions of dollars required to set up a program of mass testing today.

Countries beating COVID-19: they nearly managed to control the spread of the disease.

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Note: The charts by endcoronavirus.org in the article have shortcomings in methodology and simplify the big picture. The classification of some countries listed as “almost successful” can be considered questionable, like Iran’s. However, the conclusion on Ukraine is still valid with reaching a similar number of new patients every day after 2 months of quarantine. This means that Ukraine hasn’t been able to overcome the epidemic unlike the countries shown in the last image.

Editor’s Note

For more charts on COVID-19 pandemic in Ukraine and the world, visit Euromaidan Press’ COVID-19 monitoring page.

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Translated by: Yuri Zoria

Source: Texty

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