Ukraine Records 26 New COVID-19 Cases As Kyiv Shuts All Public Transportation

KYIV — Ukraine saw the number confirmed coronavirus cases rise to 73 as the capital, Kyiv, on March 23 is closing all public transportation for noncritical personnel.

The Health Ministry’s Center for Public Health said that as of 10:50 p.m. local time on March 22, there were 26 new cases of the respiratory illness known as COVID-19 in nine regions and the city of Kyiv.

The ministry says it is further monitoring more than 360 suspected cases, including over 239 patients in hospitals.

Health Minister Illya Yemets said on March 22 that he supports declaring a nationwide state of emergency.

“I have been talking about this since the first day of my work in the government. It had to be done from the beginning. If it were to succeed, there would be no such [virus] spread, which is now developing geometrically,” Yemets told 112 TV in an interview.

Meanwhile, one of several planned medical supply flights from China has arrived in Kyiv, the Ukrainian presidential office said on March 23.

It brought an unspecified number of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests as well as 250,000 express tests including different kind of protective medical masks, disinfectants, and “artificial ventilation apparatus and other means necessary to combat the spread of COVID-19,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office said.

Each regional laboratory on March 23 will receive the PCR tests.

The procurement was made with the assistance of large Ukrainian business owners.

“This is only the first batch of medical cargo from China. Several more flights are planned for this week,” the presidential office said.

There are three deaths related to the virus in Ukraine as schools have remained closed nationwide. Eateries, bars, gyms, theaters, shopping malls, as well as subways operating in three cities, have been also been kept closed.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov the previous day called for a nationwide quarantine to slow the spread of the coronavirus as Ukraine’s capital and largest city, Kyiv, said it would shut all public transportation for noncritical personnel.

Avakov, one of the most powerful officials in Ukraine, said the measures already put in place to fight the spread will be “significantly toughened” in the coming days. He said only “critical” industries should remain open and everyone else sent home.

“A total, full quarantine is my position, which I want to ask of each of you. And I will insist on it, according to the power of my position,” Avakov said in a Facebook post on March 21.

Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said in a March 21 video post that only people whose work is vital to the city will be allowed to use public transport. The new measure goes into effect on March 23, he said.

Copyright (c) 2014. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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