Ukraine to close schools, halt Italy flights over virus

2020-03-11 20:45
File: Getty Images

File: Getty Images

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Ukraine said on Wednesday it will close schools, kindergartens and universities and suspend flights to Italy as part of measures to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The government said in a statement it was also banning all public events with more than 200 participants, including sports events.

The measures will take effect from Thursday and will last at least three weeks.

Ukraine's new prime minister Denys Shmygal, in office since last week, told journalists flights were banned to and from Italy, the European country most affected by the virus.

"Today there was actually a decision and the airlines have already started implementing it," Shmygal said, adding the measure could be extended to other countries.

Ukraine's two carriers said they had already cut a number of flights to Italian cities due to the virus outbreak.

Ukraine has so far announced just one confirmed case of COVID-19, but there is widespread concern as many Ukrainians work in European countries hit by the disease.

Shmygal also said Ukraine will close most of its border crossings. The country shares borders with European Union countries including Poland and Slovakia.

"We want to protect Ukrainians as much as possible and to get through this period as easily as possible," he told reporters.

Vitaly Klitschko, mayor of the capital Kiev, separately announced the closure of entertainment venues such as cinemas from Thursday until the end of March to prevent the spread of the virus.

"Even though not a single case of the coronavirus has been registered in Kiev, we have decided not to wait and protect the residents of the city," Klitschko said.

Ukraine also banned the export of facemasks, surgical gloves and protective suits and glasses until June 1 to prevent shortages.

Ukraine's only confirmed coronavirus patient is a resident of the southwestern city of Chernivtsi who had recently travelled to Italy.

Read more on:    ukraine  |  health  |  coronavirus
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