In the last few days it seems as though Ukraine has been hit hard by the swine flu, often referred to here as the "California Swine Flu" strain. All the news channels are buzzing about the epidemic that is filling all the hospitals and clinics with patients. It's an interesting situation as schools are being closed and quarantines are being implemented. It is likely that travel restrictions will also be imposed between regions. Please pray for Ukraine and all of us here.
Here are some exerts from the news:
From the Kyiv Post
Ukraine closed schools and banned public meetings including election rallies and restricted travel on Friday for a three-week period after confirming its first death from H1N1 flu.
Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko announced the measures, saying the virus had reached epidemic levels in three parts of western Ukraine, where there has been an outbreak of respiratory illness since mid-October.
"All educational institutions without exception ... will be put on a three-week holiday period," Tymoshenko said. She indicated this could be extended if necessary.
"Apart from this, we will cancel all mass meetings ... for three weeks," she told an emergency government session. "We will introduce a special system to stop unnecessary travel from one region to another."
"We are considering (imposing) a quarantine not only in the west but also across the country, because the virus is spreading very fast," Health Minister Vasyl Knyazevych told reporters.
In Lviv, the main town in one of the affected regions and normally bustling on a Friday, there were significantly fewer people on the streets. Those who were wore handkerchiefs and scarves across the lower part of their faces.
"There is nothing in the pharmacies. What can I say? There is no medicine at all?" said one woman, Maria Shalyazhinska, queuing outside a pharmacy.
"How come nobody knew this epidemic was coming? Children are sick. The elderly are sick. There are no masks. People are queuing and waiting for supplies to come but nobody knows if they will come or not."
The AFP reported:
Ukraine confirmed its first swine flu deaths, prompting Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to order schools and cinemas closed and ban public gatherings for three weeks to contain the spread of the virus.
The government will also introduce "special regimes" to limit the movement of Ukraine's citizens from one region to another for non-urgent purposes, she said. Ukraine has borders with four EU countries.
The prime minister's tough actions came as Ukraine confirmed four deats from the A(H1N1) virus, amid a growing panic over several dozen unexplained deaths in the west of the country.
"We can say today that Ukraine has entered into the zone of the swine flu epidemic," Health Minister Vassyl Kniazevich said.