May 12 is tentative day to conclude severe quarantine, Shymhal says

23 April 2020

As expected, Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers decided at its weekly meeting on Apr. 22 to extend the severe quarantine until May 11, with the peak of infections predicted for May 3 and 8. May 12 is the tentative day to conclude the quarantine if two conditions are met, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told the meeting. They are (1) daily changes in infection rates remaining within a 5% range for ten days, and (2) COVID-19 patients occupying less than 50% of hospital beds. If they are met, non-food retail and certain service sectors will be considered for reopening, he said. Four additional stages will follow, with their own conditions, after this first phase of emerging from the quarantine, he said.

 

Ukraine has enjoyed among the world’s lowest coronavirus infection rates, which demonstrates the timeliness of introducing the quarantine, Shymhal said. For the remainder of the quarantine, the government will provide for increasing amounts of testing, improving funding and supplies for hospitals and doctors, introducing an electronic system of self-isolation as an alternative to observations, and developing new social standards such as wearing individual protective gear, upholding social distancing and engaging in constant disinfection activity.

 

Under conditions of declining infections, Ukraine will be able to open its border 30 days after European countries open theirs, Shmyhal told the rbc.ua news site in an interview published on Apr. 22. “We can observe European countries – our neighbors Poland, Hungary, Romania – and how they will behave regarding their borders. We also see bright examples in Germany, Spain, Italy and – depending on how they will open their borders – it’s possible to add 30 days and understand that the same mirroring measures will be in Ukraine, if we will have a calm situation,” he said.

 

Ukraine will try to keep those who returned home after losing jobs abroad because “Ukraine is also full of work,” Shmyhal said. Those who have returned are considered by the government to be “an exceptionally qualified labor force, trained in Europe, which has high productivity and solid technological and professional preparation,” he said. The government will aim to create new jobs for them, while offering SME loans “under very comfortable conditions,” he said. The government has not held any negotiations, officially or unofficially, “to transport people somewhere for work” since the border is closed, he said.

 

Coronavirus infections rose by 578 cases, or 8.8%, from the prior day to a total of 7,170, according to the Center for Public Health of the Health Ministry of Ukraine. An estimated 187 people have died from the COVID-19 disease, an increase of 13 cases from the prior day. The number of recoveries rose by 80 patients to 504 in total. Of the new infections, 87 cases, or 15.1%, were in the susceptible Chernivtsi region on the Romanian border. An estimated 167 medical workers have been infected in the Chernivtsi region, two of which have died.

 

Zenon Zawada: The relaxation of quarantine restrictions as of May 12 is realistic based on the conditions identified by Shmyhal. However, his plan for a 30-day lag behind European countries for opening the border will cause problems for the government. Shmyhal saying that Ukraine “is full of work” will draw scoffs of derision from those who have returned from Europe. Not only has Ukraine lost many jobs from the impact of the quarantine, but they don’t pay nearly as much as those in Europe. That applies to both low- and high-skilled labor. Overall, the coronavirus situation in Ukraine is more-or-less stable.

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