Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Ukraine restrict access to several towns, cities, and regions, from April 2, in order to combat spread of COVID-19.

This alert affects Ukraine

This alert began 02 Apr 2020 12:30 GMT and is scheduled to expire 24 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-related restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Summary
Authorities have prohibited entry and exit to and from several areas in Ukraine, as of April 2, in an effort to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Affected areas include the Chernivtsi Oblast, Kherson city in Kherson Oblast, Kamyanka district in Cherkassy Oblast, Tynne in Rivne Oblast, and Kazachye village in Sumy Oblast. Security forces, assisted by healthcare workers, have established health screening points on roads approaching these locations; only vehicles carrying essential goods or persons seeking emergency medical care may transit the checkpoints.

The government previously declared a national emergency March 25-April 24. The national emergency empowers the state to enforce extraordinary quarantine-related measures on a case-by-case basis, and extended preventive measures already in place. Authorities placed limitations on all intercity air, rail, and road transport; while air and rail travel has been significantly reduced, roadblocks have only been introduced in areas recording local transmission of COVID-19. All educational facilities, sporting facilities, non-essential public offices, and non-essential businesses are closed. Restaurants and cafes may offer delivery and carry-out services. Large public gatherings are banned. Some cities and regions have introduced stay-at-home advisories and mandatory health screenings.

Additionally, the indefinite closure of all Ukraine's land, air, and maritime borders to passenger transport, effective 2359 March 27, remains in place. Cargo transport will not be affected, though crews of ships, airplanes, and trucks will be subject to mandatory health screenings. Enhanced screening measures could also lead to freight delays at Ukrainian ports, particularly Odesa.

Restrictive measures relating to the COVID-19 outbreak can change or be introduced with little warning and can be ambiguous and occasionally contradictory. Authorities could escalate the national emergency to a state of emergency at any time, depending on disease activity; in Ukraine, a state of emergency empowers the government to suspend certain constitutional rights, and enforce other stringent measures.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by Ukrainian authorities are similar to actions taken by other governments globally in recent weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic March 11.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine: www.rnbo.gov.ua

World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int