The first COVID-19 case in Ukraine was detected on 3 March. As of 15 April, the number of confirmed cases has reached 3,764 registered across Ukraine. Despite the stringent restrictive measures put in place to control the spread of the virus, the number of confirmed cases is expected to continue growing as the country continues to increase its testing capacity.
There is particular concern that eastern Ukraine – ravaged by six years of armed conflict, a weakened health system and an aging population – may face a COVID-19 outbreak of considerable scale. Access to adequate health services and emergency medical care in conflict-affected Donetska and Luhanska oblasts, particularly in the area close to the ‘contact line,’ remains challenging for people of all ages due to high costs of medicines and travel, lack of specialized medical personnel, and limited availability of public transport, among others.
Public health situation:
• Most health facilities in Donetska and Luhanska oblasts have reported receiving patients with suspected cases of COVID-19. The primary challenge is laboratory testing, where there are gaps in terms of referrals, equipment and supplies, staff knowledge, access to information, and logistical capacities. However, personal protective equipment (PPE), testing kits and intensive care unit (ICU) equipment are the most requested items in both Government-Controlled Areas (GCA) and NonGovernment Controlled Areas (NGCA). Half of the health facilities surveyed in GCA have insufficient stock of PPE and hygiene supplies.
• In rural areas along the ‘contact line,’ there is limited access to first aid points (FAPs) due to the shutdown of public transportation as part of COVID-related measures. According to the assessment of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), almost half of settlements in rural areas close to the ‘contact line’ have no access to FAPs, while the suspension of public transport has left some additional 11,500 residents without access to basic health care .
• Ambulance services remain limited in eastern Ukraine. It is estimated that ambulances do not serve 20 per cent of rural settlements along the ‘contact line’ and comes only during the daytime to an additional 10 per cent in GCA.
• Hygiene items, masks and sanitizers are rarely available in shops and pharmacies in eastern Ukraine. According to the UNHCR’s assessmentiv, hygiene items are rarely available, while masks and sanitizers are not available in 119 settlements close to the ‘contact line’ (GCA). Additionally, residents of at least 14 settlements along the ‘contact line’ in Donetska Oblast (GCA) do not have access to clean water.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.