Analytical article

Ukraine Rides High While COVID-19 Lays Neighbors Low: But for How Long?

Year:

2019

Published in:

Ponars Eurasia

Authors:

Ukraine
COVID-19 response
underreporting
rural areas
healthcare system

When compared to other post-Soviet countries, Ukraine seems to have responded to the COVID-19 challenge quite well. However, this might be an illusion. There has been massive underreporting and the disease initially struck sparsely populated rural areas, leading many citizens to perceive that isolation measures are an unnecessary threat to their livelihood. But now, the virus is no longer contained in the countryside and it has exacerbated tensions between authorities at different levels. To compound the challenge, Ukraine’s healthcare system is turbulent. Doctors and nurses are becoming ill and an identification, isolation, and tracing strategy is missing. Meanwhile, the government has been hatching plans to terminate the quarantine, even while neighboring Belarus and Russia are increasingly infiltrated by the virus. The Zelensky government has navigated the crisis so far, but seems to have deflected blame a little too far toward the fairly recently departed prime and health ministers. Ukraine’s place in the current-but-changing COVID-19 rankings is fortunate positioning, especially if one considers the dismal deterioration of Russia and Belarus, with whom it shares many post-Soviet institutional and infrastructural frameworks. The Ukraine scenario looks like a recipe for a disaster and this is not a time for nonchalance.

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