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Ukraine extends quarantine, expects COVID-19 peak in early May

COVID-19 has ground Kyiv’s public life to a halt. Photo: Olena Makarenko

The Ukrainian Cabinet has extended the coronavirus quarantine until 11 May 2020, if the infection will spread according to the “optimistic scenario.” The decision was made at a session of the Cabinet on 22 April, where Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal noted that the measures to stop the epidemic will only be gradually lifted after 11 May if the number of registered cases in the country will be stable over 10 days and will fluctuate no more than 5-7% and if Ukrainian hospitals will be no more than 50% full with COVID-19 patients. Right now, they are only 10% full, the Prime Minister clarified.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Health and the National Academy of Sciences foresee that the coronavirus epidemic will peak during 3-8 May.

Until 11 May, the restrictive measures Ukraine adopted earlier remain in place. These include requirements to wear a mask in public places, restrictions on movement in groups, bans on visiting playgrounds and parks, bans on public gatherings with more than 10 people, and the previously adopted restrictions on public transport.

The only way the existing restrictions were relaxed was to allow blood donors to use public transport, which had been reserved for special categories of employees such as healthcare workers and policemen, and allow Ukrainians arriving from abroad to self-isolate instead of undergoing observation if they install a phone app tracking their movements.

However, Ukraine will not be returning to normal any time soon, Shmyhal said in an interview with the RBK Ukrayina news agency. He stressed that masks, social distancing, and disinfection rules are probably here to stay for many months to come. He also said that Ukraine will open its borders to passenger transport only if the coronavirus situation remains calm. Ukraine’s domestic passenger transport is now put on pause as well; Shmyhal hinted that as the quarantine is relaxed, first city transport will be reopened, then intercity transport, regional transport, and only finally, international transport.

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