H1N1 Flu Panic in Ukraine

H1N1 UkraineIn case you have not been paying attention to current events in Ukraine over the past week, or have simply been hiding under a rock, the eastern European country is firmly in the grip of an H1N1 flu panic.

According to the Kyiv Post, 71 people in Ukraine have died from flu or acute respiratory infections since the epidemic began. It is not known if any of those deaths are directly related to the H1N1 swine flu.

H1N1 UkrainePrime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko indicated that through November 2 - 19,198 Ukrainians have contracted the flu and over 236,000 had acute respiratory infections. Citizens are so concerned about H1N1 that many people are now wearing medical masks whenever they go outdoors. Tymoshenko has even commissioned two million face masks to be made in the nation's prisons.

The panic has resulted in extreme reactions including:

  • People staying home from work
  • Schools closed until further notice
  • Food markets closed (by government order)
  • Public meetings banned
  • Roads closed between oblasts (I'm not sure how this can be enforced)

H1N1 UkraineGreetings from Kyiv provides an interesting hypothesis regarding the public's panicked reaction:

Rumors are abounding everywhere about just what is going on in Ukraine. What some people outside of Ukraine don't understand is that there is a history in this country of the government not giving out vital health information (check your history on Chernobyl) and a socialized medical system in which many times doctors do not even communicate to people what kind of disease they have. So it makes sense that Ukrainians are nervous about what is really happening around them.

My friend ModovAnn, who lives in Kyiv, has also posted some interesting insights about the flu panic on her blog.

Photos: trinixy.ru (via English Russia)


Sad over there. Do they have any vaccines to distribute?


According to the latest reports, H1N1 vaccines will not be available in Ukraine for another 1-2 months. Apparently the Ukrainian Flu and ARD Center needs to register all vaccines before they are used.

Two H1N1 vaccines are currently undergoing tests in Ukraine. Even vaccines obtained through humanitarian assistance from the World Health Organization will also have to be tested and registered before reaching the public.