Kiev goes into red zone as authorities push citizens to get vaccinated

Kiev, Nov 1 (EFE).- Ukraine’s capital Monday was placed under the so-called ‘red zone’ public health alert amid rising Covid cases in an attempt by authorities to boost low vaccination rates.

From November 1, entry to public transport, restaurants, gyms, shopping malls and other closed public spaces in the capital will only be allowed for people with vaccination certificates or a recent negative Covid test.

Underground train carriages were half-empty during the morning rush hour on Monday as police patrols were checking passengers’ vaccination certificates at the entry to some Kiev metro stations. At the same time, traffic jams were reported on the streets as non-vaccinated commuters shifted to personal means of transport.

All schools in Kiev, including primary, were ordered to shift to remote learning after the autumn break last week. The government had promised that primary schools with 100% vaccinated personnel would remain open during lockdown, but that plan was scrapped because of rapidly rising infections.

“We fear that an explosion of infections could paralyze the medical system, when the number of ill patients will exceed the number of hospital beds,” Kiev mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said on Sunday on Ukraine 24 TV station, justifying the measures.

“We can create additional beds, but the main question is: who is going to provide medical assistance? There are not enough doctors. They are already working at the limit of their possibilities.”

Last week, Ukraine registered the highest daily numbers of new cases and Covid deaths since the start of the pandemic.

In addition to Kiev, 15 out 24 Ukraine’s regions are now in the so-called ‘red zone’, which takes effect when more than 65% of hospital beds with oxygen are occupied. Shortages of oxygen were reported in several regions, including Odessa, Chernihiv and Kherson.

Authorities blame the rising numbers of Covid new cases, hospitalizations and deaths on the more aggressive Delta strain of the virus and low vaccination rates, and encourage citizens to get jabbed.

“Every day in Ukraine we see record numbers of infected and dead people. There is only one solution: vaccination. We need to increase the percentage of vaccinated people to get out of this collapse,” president Volodimir Zelenski said last week.

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