COVID-19 cases surge as PM declares “serious wave” of pandemic

26 June 2020

Ukraine has entered “a serious wave” of the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told a June 25 cabinet meeting, the same day that COVID-19 cases caused surged to their latest daily record. “The occupancy of hospitals has significantly increased. There are regions where it exceeds 50%. Unfortunately, this is an exceptionally negative signal. This means that we have entered a serious illness phase of the coronavirus,” said Shmyhal, as reported by the news site. He added, “We can state that the situation has significantly worsened. Ukrainian doctors and epidemiologists are telling us about one main reason people stopped upholding restrictions. And local governments, in order not to lose political points, continues to weaken restrictions that remained at the local level.”


The way to save the country and economy from decline, while refraining from a return to a severe quarantine/lockdown, is to uphold the restrictions of the adaptive model, Shmyhal said. These are wearing masks, frequently using disinfectants and maintaining social distancing. Meanwhile, the government is preparing its second wave of hospitals to accept the larger number of patients, he said.


Citizens using mass public transport continue to violate preventive measures such as wearing masks and maintaining social distance, a representative of the Internal Affairs Ministry told the president during his daily coronavirus meeting. Meanwhile, fines on enterprises and eateries have tripled in the last three days while a total of UAH 5 mln in fines has been imposed, the official said, as reported by the president’s office website. “If we don’t stop this growth, we will have the peak of infections right in the middle of summer. It will be bad for everyone. Then no one will be happy about the quarantine’s relaxation,” Zelensky said.


Cases of the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus surged to 1,109 on June 25, which is the latest daily record, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov reported at this daily briefing this morning. An estimated 19 patients died, while 541 recovered. COVID-19 cases reached a new record of 113 in the city of Kyiv, though one death was reported. The current fatality rate of the virus in Ukraine is 2.6%, compared to 3.1% on Apr. 8 and 2.4% on Apr. 3.


“This is all thanks to the work of our medical workers, and thanks to the work of leading experts, who set the treatment standards. At the same time, our healthcare system has a certain limit. And when 200-205 people are hospitalized every day, that fills the beds and we can reach a situation when these beds run out. And the single prevention for this not to happen is to use Health Ministry recommendations,” Stepanov said.


Zenon Zawada: Shmyhal’s comments yesterday confirm our suspicion that the government is doing everything it can to avoid reimposing a severe quarantine/lockdown out of political concerns, especially ahead of the October local elections. Though he shifted blame on local governments for relaxing restrictions to score political points, it’s the central government that allowed for that to happen when adopting the adaptive quarantine model. This would account for recent inconsistent policies, in which the city of Kyiv decided to allow the reopening of cultural events and theatres, at the same time that its infection rate didn’t meet Health Ministry thresholds for relaxing restrictions.


We expect the central government to do everything possible to avoid a return to a severe quarantine/lockdown. For it to be imposed, we believe the critical criterion will be hospital occupancy. If that figure exceeds the 50% threshold per hospital in enough regions (at least 10, for example), causing enough public outrage that currently doesn’t exist, the cabinet could decide to act next week. Ultimately, the political losses of not reimposing a severe quarantine will have to exceed the losses of reimposing one. That’s not the case just yet.

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