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As Ukrainians fled the Russian onslaught, the Coronavirus went with them

While Ukraine is under attack by Russia, Ukrainian civilians are also surrounded by coronavirus, the situation can only get worse.

The fighting in eastern Ukraine is forcing a mass migration to the west, which is crowded with train and transit hubs and congested roads. Video images of large numbers of Ukrainians on the move show little sign of face coverings, even as the country has just passed a record high in infection rates.

According to Dr. Eric S. Toner, a senior scholar at the Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, the outlook for coronavirus for those fleeing the fighting is dire. bad.

“They are quite vulnerable and when people get together, take shelter or evacuate in crowded buses, trains and cars, maybe in hotels and refugee camps, it causes chaos,” he said. backward,” he said in an interview on Thursday. “They can’t maintain their distance and don’t have access to masks.”

Many are heading to smaller towns and villages, or crossing borders into Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania, and the influx of refugees is likely to affect the pandemic situation of those countries.

Senior Biden administration officials say that between one million five million Ukrainians may seek safety in some other part of that country or in neighboring countries. On Thursday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said it had increased its activity in Ukraine and neighboring countries.

Dr Toner said that he expected Ukraine’s neighbors to see an increase in their Covid cases and added strain to their health care systems from refugees, but the problems that would be worse in Ukraine.

“They will take care of the Covid patients, along with the war victims,” he said. “They will be understaffed because of the war, and that will hurt their chances of keeping patients isolated or having social distancing. It will be a mess. ”

Ukraine is reporting an average of about 26,000 new cases per day, or 63 new cases per 100,000 people, according to for the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. Only about a third of Ukraine’s 44 million people are fully immunized against the coronavirus, although Ukrainian officials said this month that the military has 99 percent vaccination rate.

According to the Our World in Data project, Russia, despite being one of the first countries to develop and approve a coronavirus vaccine, has only fully immunized half of its population. It is also dealing with an increase in Omicrons, recording an average of 160,000 new cases over the past seven days, or 111 cases per 100,000 people.

Ukraine does not recognize the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, while Russia does not recognize the Western-made vaccine administered in Ukraine.

The Russian invasion also has the potential to hurt Ukraine’s ability to track the virus, Dr. Toner said. If county data becomes unreliable, it will be a particularly important loss for epidemiologists because the country is located in the heart of Eastern Europe.

“I doubt that we will stop taking a lot of data from Ukraine,” Dr. Toner said. “Local hospitals and health departments will not make that a priority. ”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/25/world/europe/ukraine-covid.html As Ukrainians fled the Russian onslaught, the Coronavirus went with them

Fry Electronics Team

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