If there is one thing we thought we wouldn’t see is the start of World War 3. Just as the world was returning to normalcy after two years of Covid, the news of Russia attacking Ukraine shook the world. COVID-19 appears to be the last worry on any Ukrainian’s mind. Health professionals are concerned.
With millions escaping the Russian invasion, health systems compromised, and testing and immunization programs abandoned in many regions, the disease could spread. However, they said that the pandemic was no longer a significant concern.
“People are not frightened about COVID anymore,” answered Dr. Marta Saiko, head of the therapy department at the Clinical Municipal Emergency Hospital in western Ukraine. “People are frightened of the war.” Because of the turmoil of war, it’s inconceivable to tell how far the pandemic has spread.
Dr. Oleksandr Matskov, deputy director of the General Public Health Center of Ukraine, stated in a written response that coronavirus lab tests are almost entirely suspended since the war began on Feb 24th. Doctors are instructed to confirm clinical symptoms without the trouble of a laboratory test.
Hence the number of new cases reported had dropped dramatically in the last two weeks. But “the decrease may also be natural,” he added, pointing out that the omicron variation surge had begun fading before Russian troops and tanks reached the border.
This invasion has resulted in strikes on some of the country’s main cities, notably Kyiv, the capital, and Kharkiv, the second-largest city, triggering a mass evacuation and a collapse in facilities. A city of over 3 million people, the mayor of Kyiv announced last week that half of the city’s population has fled. According to Matskov, other areas are under siege, with little or no access to medical care.
Ukraine’s COVID-19 vaccination rate is only about one-third of the populace. Still, millions of people escaping their homes have crammed into evacuation trains, resettlement centers, temporary shelters, and underground shelters, creating ideal conditions for a new outbreak.
The medical systems in the parts of Ukraine that were safe from the war are now overburdened by the flood of displaced persons, according to Matskov. COVID-19 isn’t high on the list of concerns for the Ukrainians these days.
People queuing for trains in the tents claimed they were no longer concerned about Covid but rather for their own safety. There were no masks on the half-dozen people there. Recently, Ukraine has been dealing with a rare epidemic of polio spread by unhygienic circumstances and contaminated water, which are prevalent in refugee situations.
During the coronavirus pandemic, vaccination for polio and other diseases has delayed worldwide, adding to the hazard. Like most of Europe, Ukraine had a coronavirus outbreak earlier this year, with over 35,000 cases a day in early February and over 200 daily deaths by the middle of the month.
Official figures fell dramatically from such highs, reaching zero in the days following the Russian invasion, showing a reporting lapse. According to Matskov, reported incidents were in areas not immediately affected by the war. He stated there were 6,112 cases and 115 deaths on Wednesday.
Just before the war, Ukrainians were rather diligent about wearing a mask in shops, restaurants, and on public transportation. Still, most individuals appear to have discarded any procedure. As refugees piled onto trains and into station waiting rooms, social distance has become unthinkable. There is hardly a mask in the crowds.
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