On 22 May, Ukraine’s Ministry of Health issued guidelines to further ease the COVID-19 lockdown, the so-called Phase 2. The guidelines are to be applied on a regional basis based on the epidemic situation in the region: if infection rates in the last 7 days are below 12 people per 100,000 citizens, if bed occupancy in health facilities designated for hospitalization of patients with confirmed COVID-19 cases is less than 50%, and if the average number of PCR tests is over 12 per 100,000 citizens in the past seven days.
On 22 June, the guidelines on the MOZ website were changed: to have the quarantine lifted, bed occupancy still has to be under 50%, there have to be over 24 tests / 100,000 citizens, of which there have to be under 11% of positive cases (we are still keeping the infection rates on our tableau map, though).
As of 24 May, eight Ukrainian regions did not meet these criteria: Volyn, Rivnenska, Lvivska, Zakarpatska, Chernivetska, Kyivska, Dnipropetrovska, Luhanska, and Donetska oblasts. The capital city of Kyiv got in with a squeeze.
The quarantine will be eased in phases. The following will be allowed once again:
Starting on May 22:
- All public transportation, intercity bus transportation, except metro systems and inter-regional transportation
- Hotels (excluding restaurants and gyms)
- Church services (no more than 1 person per 10m2)
- Sporting events without spectators (up to 50 participants)
Starting on May 25:
- Daycare centers
- Metro systems
Starting on June 1:
- Sports gyms and education facilities (group classes up to 10 people)
- Inter-regional rail travel
- Inter-regional bus transportation
Starting on June 10:
- Inside seating at restaurants and coffee shops
- Cultural institutions
- Cultural events (up to 1 person per 5m2)
Starting on June 15:
- Ukraine relaunched air travel (see the article for rules on entering Ukraine).
Currently, Ukraine requires foreigners entering the country from a country of origin with over 55 active cases per 100,000 of population to undergo a two-week period of self-isolation (this was raised on 15 July from the original 40). But in fact, many Ukrainian regions do not meet that criterion:
On 1 August, new quarantine rules came into force: the country adopted a microregional approach for restrictions.
If previously an entire oblast was subjected to stricter quarantine measures, including bans on public transport, cultural events, public gatherings, restaurant operation etc., in response to COVID-19 outbreaks, now only the affected regions and cities will be affected.
Oblasts will be monitored for violating at least one of four criteria:
- If more than 50% of hospital beds intended for COVID-19 patients are occupied;
- If there are less than 24 PLR and IFA tests per 100,000 of the population per 7 days;
- If the proportion of positive cases exceeds 11%;
- If the dynamics of new COVID-19 cases exceeds 10%.
If an oblast exceeds one of these criteria, then its districts will be assigned specific statuses. Those contributing under 5% of the violation will be “green” districts, “yellow” districts are those providing 5-20% of the violation, and “red” districts are responsible for over 50% of violation.
A live map has been launched with the relevant color codes for each region.
Taking this change into account, COVID-19 requirements are the following in Ukraine starting from 1 August 2020:
In all of Ukraine
Masks should be worn in public buildings and transport, documents should be carried in the streets, persons should not leave the places where they are undergoing self-isolation or observation.
In the green zone
Mass events should include no more than 1 person per 5 sq meters, theaters and movie theaters should be no more than 50% full. The number of passengers in public transport should not exceed the seating capacity of the vehicle.
In the yellow zone
Apart from the rules listed above, visits to social protection institutions are restricted;
In the orange zone
Apart from the rules listed above, mass events are allowed with no more than 100 participants and no more than 1 person per 20 sq m, no hospitality businesses except hotels are allowed to operate; restaurants and clubs are not allowed to operate from 24:00 to 7:00 (except delivery and takeout). Groups in education institutions may contain no more than 20 pupils (except for regular schools and kindergartens), planned hospitalizations are suspended, sports clubs may not operate, children’s camps are suspended.
In the red zone
Apart from the rules above, public transport and all education is suspended, culture institutions, restaurants, shopping malls, fitness centers, and non-essential shopping and services are prohibited. The work of social servicing institutions is restricted.
As of mid-June, as the quarantine measures started to be relaxed, COVID-19 infection rates started growing again. On 4 June, Ukraine’s Ministry of Health stated that 9 regions are not ready to soften the lockdown, while on 1 June the number was only 6. That day, Ukraine registered its record number of new daily cases – 588.
Offering further pessimism is a graph of the reproduction number of COVID-19 in Ukraine, or simply R. It is a way of rating a disease’s ability to spread. It’s the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to, on average.
Some diseases, like measles, spread very quickly – it has a reproduction number of 15 in populations without immunity. The new coronavirus, known officially as Sars-CoV-2, has a reproduction number of about three, but estimates vary.
This is why nations have imposed lockdowns around the world: to lower the R so that eventually the outbreak of disease subsides.
Dr. Ihor Ivanov, a researcher at the Institute of Mechanics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, has been modeling reproduction numbers for COVID-19 in Ukraine. His results are in the graph below.
On the Y-axis is the sum of new COVID-19 cases in the last 7 days. On the X-axis is the R number calculated by Dr. Ivanov. On 16 April, the R number was the highest: one person infected more than 1.5 people, on average. Then R gradually lowered, until it passed the threshold of 1 (the thick black vertical line) on 10 May, when 3350 new people were contracting COVID-19 per week, meaning that one person infected fewer than one other person, on average.
After that, we see both the number of infected people and R falling until 19 May, after which the trend is reversed – both R and the number of new infected people rises, until on 30 May R is again over 1, meaning that one infected person will pass on the disease to more than one other person and the outbreak of disease grows.
Did the quarantine which started to be relaxed on 12 May have something to do with this? It may very well be – as the number of newly infected people will be registered on tests with a lag of around a week.
One must take the coronavirus statistics in Ukraine, however, with a grain of salt: there has been very little testing; Ukraine’s testing rates are one of the lowest in the world.