Ukraine’s medical doctors driven to the prohibit through COVID-19 wave


KAKHOVKA, Ukraine (AP) As coronavirus infections hit Ukraine, a unmarried shift for Dr. Oleksandr Molchanov now stretches to 42 hours 24 of them in Kakhovka’s sanatorium, adopted through every other 18 hours spent visiting tents set as much as deal with 120 COVID-19 sufferers.

While vaccination charges in Eastern Europe have usually lagged, Ukraine has one of the crucial lowest within the area. But as a result of its underfunded and suffering well being care machine, the location has grew to become dire just about two years because the virus swept into Europe.

The nation is environment data virtually each day for infections and deaths, maximum just lately on Tuesday, when 838 deaths had been reported.

We are extinguishing the fireplace once more. We are running as on the entrance, however our power and features are restricted, stated Molchanov, who works on the sanatorium within the town in southern Ukraine at the Dnieper River. We are running to the prohibit.

After his grueling shift, the 32-year-old physician is going house to sleep and get well for 2 days. The subsequent one could also be much more difficult.

“The situation is only getting worse, Molchanov said. Hospital beds are running out, there are more and more serious patients, and there is a sore lack of doctors and medical personnel.

The tents beside Kakhovka’s hospital have 120 beds, and 87 of them are occupied, with more patients arriving every day. But Molchanov is one of only three doctors to care for them.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s administration inherited a health care system that was undermined by reforms launched by his predecessor that closed many small-town hospitals.

In those communities, people have to seek care in large cities. If the problem is severe enough that a patient needs an ambulance, the wait can be as long as eight hours.

They are bringing patients in extremely difficult condition, with a protracted form of COVID-19, said Dr. Anatoliy Galachenko, who also works at the tent hospital. The main reason is the remoteness of settlements and the impossibility of providing assistance at the primary stages of the disease.

Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister who leads the opposition Batkivshchyna party, said she has traveled to many hospitals in Ukraine and found shortages everywhere.

The mortality from COVID that is now recorded in Ukraine, is not just mortality; it is the killing of people by this government, which does not have oxygen, antiviral drugs, beds and normally paid medical personnel, she said in parliament.

There are no free beds in the country anymore a new patient immediately comes to the bed of a discharged person, Tymoshenko added.

Four coronavirus vaccines are available in Ukraine Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Sinovac but only 21% of its 41 million people are fully vaccinated. The Ministry of Health reported that 96% of patients with severe COVID-19 weren’t vaccinated.

Zelenskyy has promised every fully vaccinated Ukrainian a payment of 1,000 hryvnia ($38), about 5% of the average monthly wage, but widespread hesitancy persists.

Doctors say the vaccines are highly effective at preventing deaths and hospitalizations, and when infections in vaccinated people do occur, they usually are mild.

Oleksandr Kymanov, who refused to get vaccinated, ended up getting infected and was brought to the tent hospital in Kakhovka from the town of Rozdolne, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) away. Connected to supplemental oxygen, he cited various falsehoods about the vaccine, saying it was useless and that people still get infected and get sick.

Doctors complain that vaccine falsehoods about containing microchips or that they cause infertility and disease is driving the COVID-19 surge.

People believe in the most absurd rumors about chips, infertility and the dangers of vaccines, elderly people from risk groups massively refuse to be vaccinated, and this is very harmful and increases the burden on doctors, Molchanov said. People trust their neighbors more than doctors.

The government has required teachers, doctors, government employees and other groups of workers to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 1. It also has also begun to require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results for travel on planes, trains and long-distance buses.

The regulations have spawned a black market for fake vaccination documents, which sell for the equivalent of $100-$300. A phony government digital app for smartphones is reportedly available, complete with fake certificates installed.

COVID cannot be fooled with a fake certificate, but many Ukrainians learn about it only in intensive care, Molchanov said.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs said 1,200 groups have been sent throughout Ukraine to verify the authenticity of medical documents. Police already have identified several clandestine printers who were creating fake certificates.

Doctors say the fake certificates make their job harder.

We are working to the limit, but we are tired of fighting not only with disease, but also with stupidity,” Molchanov stated.


Yuras Karmanau reported from Kyiv. Evgeniy Maloletka contributed to this file from Kakhovka.


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