The epidemic was declared in nine regions, ten other regions are on the verge. Within five days 500,000 people fell ill with acute respiratory viral infection or flu, 86 people died. Death rate is the highest among young people. They develop pneumonia and burn out in three days. There were 17 confirmed cases of swine flu – five people died.
“The main challenge is that doctors are facing a new virus. General panic only worsens the situation,” stated Vasily Knyazevitch, Ukraine’s Minister of Health.
The country has been stricken by panic for nearly a week. Schools and kindergartens are closed. People in offices and in the street wear masks, doctors do not cope with the volume of calls. Public transportation vehicles and train stations are washed with chlorine every two to three hours. Prices for “anti-flu” lemons and garlic skyrocketed. Pharmacies are out of basic medications and flu masks.
“Medical factories work three shifts, but it is still not enough,” said Mikhail Pasechnik, President of the Professional Pharmacy Association of Ukraine.
Residents of border areas go to Russia to but medications. To be on the safe side, doctors encourage everyone who has flu symptoms to stay in a hospital. As a result, there is no room for people with other illnesses.
Officials are trying to calm people down, saying that the illness rates are within statistical norm, but to no avail. Jokes are the only thing that distracts people from the panic, for example: “Will exchange ten flu masks and a package of Tylenol for a BMW no older than 2004.”