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Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant General Director Igor Gramotkin has requested all staff at the facility to take a serious and responsible attitude toward the H1N1 influenza epidemic that is spreading throughout Ukraine.

All employees are expected to make every effort to avoid the spread of infection within their families and team members at the plant. The Chernobyl Plant administration has also ordered appropriate sanitary measures be taken at the facility to protect the health of all employees.

Despite a shortage of funds, management has purchased specialized, high-strength disinfectants that are used for the treatment of surfaces in public places. Disinfectants have also been used to clean all the electric trains that transport workers to and from their homes in Slavutych, as well as on buses that employees use between the train and the plant buildings.

H1N1 Flu Panic in Ukraine

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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: (via English Russia)