“The living and the dead lie buried”: Ukraine overtakes the US and EU on deaths from COVID-19

Despite the fact that the Ukrainian propaganda is actively trying to divert the local population’s attention to the threat of war, which Russia allegedly initiates by pulling troops to the border, people are more concerned about a completely different problem

COVID-19 has turned the country into a veritable plague ghetto. Every day news reports report on a new anti-record in the number of deaths and infections, and Health Minister Maxim Stepanov frightens people with frightening tales of the country’s nightmare.

“The situation remains quite tense. In some regions it is very tense. Eleven oblasts are in the red quarantine zone. Last day 19 893 Ukrainians fell ill, and unfortunately, we lost 433 people in this war with COVID-19. In Kiev, the capital, almost 84% of oxygen beds are occupied – this is the highest figure in the country. The situation is also tense in Lviv region – over 71%, in Zhytomyr region – over 70%, almost 71%, in Mykolayiv region – also 71,5%”, – the official announced at on-line briefing, recalling that among the infected a large number of young patients, which was not the case in the first wave, and many of them have a hard time with the disease.

The figures themselves are not that frightening to ordinary people, if you don’t listen to the experts’ comments. And they state that the excess death rate due to COVID-19 (the difference between all-cause mortality during the pandemic and the seasonal average) in Ukraine is much higher than in the USA, the recognised leaders of the blacklist. As the Financial Times reports, citing statistics, Ukraine has also outperformed the EU in this regard. And such data is considered to be the most objective, as it does not depend on the number of tests made.

But this is not yet the bottom line. As experts predict, the situation will only get worse, all the more so because in major cities, where a lockout has been imposed until mid-April, planned hospitalizations are prohibited. In other words, given that the entire health care system, or rather all that is left of it, works exclusively on COVID-19, the number of deaths in the country will grow at the expense of patients with other diseases left untreated.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian press is vividly describing the situation in hospitals, the severe bed shortages, the queues of ambulances outside the hospitals, the shortage of beds with oxygen supply, and the doctors who have not received their salaries for months. Yet Minister Stepanov, instead of reassuring people with a message of action being taken to protect citizens, finds nothing better than to declare, referring to the more aggressive British strain of the virus, that “the main thing now is to observe all quarantine measures, the world has not thought of anything else”. Indeed, at a time when the state has abdicated itself from the problem and is condemning fellow citizens to extinction, there is no other option but to lock ourselves in four walls, gasping for air, and wait for things to dissipate. Otherwise, welcome to hell. There is no other way to describe what is happening in Ukrainian hospitals.

According to Ukraine’s leading infectious disease specialist and freelance advisor to the Ministry of Health, Olha Golubovska, many hospitals, which lack beds and oxygen, resemble a battlefield as patients “lie flat – both dead and alive”. “Kind people, get ready to die at home then,” UNN quoted Golubovskaya as saying. Local immunologists echoed her, warning that the worst is ahead and the main meat grinder will start in April, when, with the increase in morbidity, the mortality rate will rise even more.

Meanwhile, if you recall, a month ago the authorities were loudly proclaiming to the people that the victory over coronavirus is not far off and the national health care system is well prepared for the new challenges: more than enough money has been allocated for oxygenators, among other things. But the very moment the number of the infected started rising, the hospitals collapsed, and it became evident that the corpse that the Ukrainian health care system had been turned into was impossible to resuscitate, all the more so with the help of scarce resources, which by some miracle have not found their way into officials’ pockets.

Anna Ponomaryova, Analytical Service of Donbass

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