KYIV, Jan 18 – Ukraine will not be extending its strict three-week quarantine measures after January 24 amid rapidly improving rate of new coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Monday.
The government will probably approve less strict measures that will be in effect through the end of February or even March as the country has been battling the coronavirus pandemic.
“The key goal of the so-called 'winter break quarantine’ was is to limit the mobility of the population,” Shmyhal said in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine. “Starting January 25, we will probably move to the 'orange' level, which was in effect before the introduction of these rules."
Ukraine reported 3,034 new coronavirus cases on Monday, its lowest daily tally since the end of September, health minister Maksym Stepanov said on Facebook. The number of deaths decreased to 67 from 116 the day earlier, he said.
The government announced a strict three-week lockdown measures starting on January 8 that included shutting down schools, restaurants and gyms, in order to slow down spread of coronavirus. At some point in December 20202, Ukraine was reporting more than 16,000 new coronavirus cases daily, almost reaching the country’s hospital capacity to deal with the disease.
Ukraine has registered more than 1.16 million coronavirus cases with 20,869 deaths, according to the Health Ministry.
The lockdown was needed to slow the COVID-19 expansion in Ukraine before Christmas and New Year holidays. Shmyhal said.
"We are breaking the chain that had formed from the New Year to Christmas. If we had not made this winter vacation, then in February we would have reached critical indicators that would not allow our medical system to cope. But why risk people's lives and health, if we can make the mildest lockdown in Europe during this most inactive period of the year, in order to knock down the wave that is beginning, and prevent a large number of diseases in February," Shmyhal said.
Shmyhal said that a less strict quarantine will be in effect through the end of February, and perhaps through the end of March even that vaccine will probably be available to attack the pandemic.
"There is no reason to cancel the adaptive quarantine,” Shmyhal said. “The disease has not disappeared.”
"Europe has high morbidity rate, we are open to Europe, we are open within the state, so there is no reason to lift the quarantine. There is no need to prematurely indulge ourselves in illusions,” Shmyhal said. “I’m sure that the quarantine will last a very long time this year.” (tl/ez)