Kyiv Pandemic Update
Word-salad just-so stories about the plague
U.S. Chargés d'affaires ad interim to Ukraine Kristina A. Kvien published a bizarre message on Facebook on Thursday, two days after Ukraine eased COVID-19 quarantine restrictions. It followed hand-washing advice and batshit motivational posts authored by American diplomats locked down in Kyiv.
The seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases has been flat as a pancake since the third week of April. Few trust the accuracy of the Health Ministry’s daily reports or understand the algorithms being used to determine whether restrictive measures can be eased. One reason is because they change almost daily (in order to justify the decisions of national and local authorities to allow small businesses, such as barber shops, tattoo parlor, brothels, food markets to re-open).
Stage 1 of the quarantine ended on May 11, after the conditions “control of spread,” “availability of medical resources” and “number of new cases remaining within +/- 10%” were met.
Stage 2 of the quarantine is scheduled to end on May 22, but the government has not yet approved criteria for ending Stage 1.
Health Minister Maksym Stepanov on May 14 mumbled something about conditions for moving on to Stage 2: cases over the past seven days per 100,000 people should not exceed the average over the previous seven days, availability of at least 50% of hospital billets for COVID-19 patient, a R (reinfection rate) value between 0.9-1, etc.
He said government will have to formally approve moving on to Stages 2, 3 and 4, which are each expected to last ten days. He didn’t elaborate.
Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry, meanwhile, has published a very confusing three-stage plan for resuming operation of buses, planes and trains. My eyes hurt just looking at it.
Past is Prologue
At the beginning of the outbreak, Ukraine had a chance to contain the novel virus by identifying each person bringing the infection into the country and stopping it before it spread in the community.
President Volodymyr Zelensky told us not to worry on January 31.
Ze!Team did nothing to prepare for the pandemic in February and March.
There was no individual-level containment, which would have had minimal effect on the economy. Instead, Illia Yemets, a corrupt hack from the era of disgraced former President Viktor Yanukovych, was installed as Health Minister. He said the country’s limited medical resources shouldn’t be wasted on people over the age of 65.
Yemets was sacked after members of Ukraine’s jet set brought the virus back to Ukraine from European ski resorts. Germy priests co-mingled with hundreds of thousands of returning migrant workers and exacerbated the situation. All regions have since seen a steady increase in cases.
The idea that that restrictions imposed in March could be lifted after hospitals were re-equipped has been abandoned. Ze!Team in April gave up on a policy of sufficient testing and contact tracing altogether, opting for a policy of harm reduction, the success of which will likely depend on the unpredictable zeal of the nation’s vertically-integrated 300,000+ police force to delouse infected establishments and their owners.