Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a public address on Monday, March 16, announcing new nationwide quarantine measures in response to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Beginning at 00:01 (local time) on Tuesday, March 17, all cultural, shopping, and entertainment centers, restaurants, cafés, and fitness centers will close. Restaurants and cafés can continue to cook food, which can be ordered from home. All intercity and interregional rail, bus, metro, and air transportation services will be suspended from 12:00 on Wednesday, March 18. Urban transportation is allowed in minibuses and taxis for up to ten people and up to 20 people in trolleybuses, buses, and tram cars. Mass events for more than ten people are also prohibited, including religious ceremonies and other rituals. All public authorities, healthcare facilities, and law enforcement agencies will operate as normal. Grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, banking institutions, and insurance companies will also continue to provide service nationwide.
All foreign nationals continue to be barred from entering the country as of Monday. The entry restrictions will remain in place until at least Sunday, March 29, and may be extended depending on the situation. According to Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine Oleksiy Danilov, Ukrainian citizens can still return to the country, but may be subject to "observation procedures" and self-quarantine.
As of March 16, at least seven cases of the virus have been confirmed in Ukraine, along with one associated fatality. Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.