"We Won’t Wait for Thousands of Cases" - Ukraine to Close Passenger Air Service
13 March, 2020

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has addressed Ukrainians in connection with the spread of coronavirus in the world. He described what restrictive measures the state is introducing and how it plans to counter the epidemic.

He noted that Ukraine has introduced the same restrictive measures as countries with a significantly higher number of COVID-19 cases.

READ MORE: Ukraine Closes Borders for Foreign Citizens

Earlier, the Parliament Speaker Dmytro Razumkov announced on the air of NewsOne channel that all passenger air service in Ukraine will be terminated from March 17. At the same time, citizens of Ukraine will be able to return home via land and sea.

“We will not be waiting for [officially detected] thousands of [cases]. The issue of life and health of Ukrainians cannot be hurried, it can be belated. That is why we are acting decisively and thinking ahead,” Zelenskyy said.

He reaffirmed a series of restrictive measures adopted by the National Security and Defense Council on March 13. These include:

-Closing the border for foreigners starting March 16. Only those who have a permanent or temporary residence permit in Ukraine can enter;

-The restriction is valid for two weeks and will then be reviewed;

-Crews of ships, airplanes, trucks may come to Ukraine, but they will be checked by doctors by express tests;

-Those Ukrainians who departed from Ukraine on a charter flight for a tourist trip will return to Ukraine exactly as scheduled;

-Other Ukrainians will have to return by plane in the next three days because passenger air service will be closed.

-Those who cannot return in time should contact Ukrainian consulates. They will be able to return on separate non-scheduled flights;

-Everyone returning will be medically examined. In case of detection of signs of the disease they will be sent for observation;

-Ukrainian citizens are strongly advised to refrain from traveling abroad barring an emergency.

Zelenskyy also assured that infection control facilities in each region will be fully equipped with express tests to detect coronavirus in the near future. Thus:

-Cabinet will allocate UAH 100 million ($3.8 million) for personal protective equipment;

-If necessary, a further UAH 500 million ($19.1 million) will be immediately allocated for the purchase of medical equipment for intensive care;

-Ukraine’s Institute of Molecular Biology will produce 200,000 express tests;

-10 million masks from the State Reserve were transferred to healthcare institutions;

-Mobile laboratories will be used for testing in the regions;

-Masks, disinfectants, tests and "other necessary means" will be made available in pharmacies "in sufficient quantity and at an affordable price";

-The state will economically stimulate the manufacture of personal protective equipment;

-Cabinet will ban the export of personal protective equipment from Ukraine;

-For "difficult cases" over 12,000 beds have been prepared in infection control centers;

-There are about 2,000 infectious disease physicians and about 5,000 nursing staff.

In addition, the president urged seniors, especially those with chronic illnesses, to stay home (because they are a major risk group).

READ MORE: First Coronavirus Death in Ukraine Reported

Zelenskyy assured that special attention would be paid to the protection of the Ukrainian military.

“They will be as secure and protected as possible. They protect our country from the virus of encroachment on our territory. We will protect them from all other viruses,” he said.

The Head of State thanked the doctors and noted that the local authorities were instructed to introduce additional financial incentives for health workers involved in anti-epidemic measures.

He also asserted that a temporary ban on mass gatherings was not an encroachment on the constitutional right to protest.

"This is a concern for the health of Ukrainians. Let the situation stabilize, the incidence will decline, and then you can rally to your heart’s content,”  Zelenskyy stressed.

In conclusion, the president emphasized that much depends on everyone's responsibility.

"Every person who has even mild symptoms of the disease should be isolated for a minimum of seven days and must always consult a family doctor," he said.

Zelenskyy also encouraged critical thinking and "not to act on provocations of Internet scams".

"The panic virus is worse than the coronavirus. We have been through many things together, neither bird nor swine or Spanish flu defeated us,” the head of state summarized.