Does Ukraine need second lockdown?

Author : Natalia Lebed

Source : 112 Ukraine

On November 20, the daily increase in patients with coronavirus amounted to 14 500 new cases. On the same day, it became known that the Cabinet was considering the possibility of introducing a full lockdown.
23:08, 24 November 2020

At best, it will last until mid-December, at worst - almost until the New Year. The news was announced by the mayor of Ivano-Frankivsk Ruslan Martsinkiv, referring to Prime Minister Denys Shmygal, with whom Martsinkiv spoke the day before.

Officially, the prime minister and his press service did not confirm or deny this information. Although earlier, the head of the Ministry of Health, Maxym Stepanov, did not rule out a transition from weekend quarantine to more stringent restrictions - following the example of those that were introduced in March. The condition for such a transition is 15 000 patients a day - now Ukraine has come to a critical point. reveals all the pros and cons of the lockdown.

As long as there is no cure for the disease, the only way to break the chain of its spread is to reduce human contact. This is the number one argument for lockdown.

"There are certain laws of epidemiology - this is the theory of the transmission mechanism. The epidemic process arises and is maintained only under the condition of the joint action of the three primary driving forces or links of the epidemic chain. The first is the source of infection, the second is the implementation of the transmission mechanism of the pathogen itself, and the third is the susceptibility of the population to this infection," says Deputy Minister of Health Iryna Mikichak.

Simple quarantine and personal protection measures can break the epidemic chain, she said.

At one time, the lockdown helped European countries survive the first wave of coronavirus. Already in May Italy, Spain, Britain, France, Germany, the Czech Republic began to soften quarantine restrictions. In Spain, the second-hardest coronavirus-affected country in the European Union, the spring lockdown helped the number of cases drop to 200 and continued to fall further.

On the other - the American - continent, namely in Argentina, very strict quarantine restrictions were imposed at one time, thanks to which the country managed to avoid the collapse of the medical system and show the lowest death rate from coronavirus in the region - only 13.6 deaths per 100 thousand population.

And the most noticeable effect of the quarantine was in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the city from where the spread of the disease began. The first 50 days of quarantine in Wuhan played a decisive role - they bought time and saved - according to experts - the lives of 700 thousand people. During this time, new medical institutions, specialized for the reception of coronavirus patients were also built on the territory of the PRC.

Finally, as a result of the first wave of the epidemic in June of this year, the American scientific journal Nature published an analysis of almost 2 thousand quarantine measures. The conclusion of scientists is unambiguous: they helped to avoid 60 million cases of new infections in the United States, and also prevented 3 million new deaths in Europe.

Thus, the second quarantine “pros” is the time to prepare and meet the disease fully armed.

This point has been repeatedly noted in Ukraine - from the top of the Ministry of Health and ending with ordinary doctors. So, in particular, infectious disease doctor Serhiy Kramarev in an interview with Channel 24 noted that the point of the lockdown is not to stop the pandemic, but to adapt hospitals to the daily reception of a significant number of patients.

The Ministry of Health reports that in our country every third hospital is filled with Covid patients. Wherein:

142 hospitals are filled t a critical level;

92 - very overloaded;

75 - 100% loaded;

Against the background of such statistics, the share of positive tests for Covid continues to grow - from 19% to 22% only in the last month. In addition, according to analysts, among the samples of PCR tests "inline" are about 7,700 undiagnosed cases of Covid-19.

This means that the preparation of hospitals and medical personnel to "meet" the new army of patients is critically important.

Related: Coronavirus mapping dashboard: world online

The time won in the fight against the Covid-19 makes it possible to learn more about a disease and about methods of fighting it. Plus, there remains a temporary head start for the development of effective vaccines.

According to the latest data, the main cause of death from coronavirus is not pneumonia, as it was believed until now, but pulmonary thrombosis. Given this feature, scientists continue to work on a coronavirus "antidote". Thus, in particular, the American holding Pfizer, which works in tandem with BioNTech, has increased the effectiveness of its vaccine to 95%. In terms of the predicted level of effectiveness, the Russian vaccine Sputnik V does not lag behind them.

The time gained through the introduction of quarantine restrictions gives scientists the opportunity to reflect on methods to counter the pandemic.

But each medal has a downside.

The second wave of the pandemic, which is now covering the world, testifies to the insignificant effect of anti-epidemic measures.

“Despite the quarantines, hospitalizations have risen to levels unseen since spring, and deaths have risen by more than 30% over the past week ... Europe is once again at the epicenter of this pandemic,” says WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge.

However, doctors say that summer vacations and the fact that people in general "relaxed" after the first lockdown affected this.

The time that Ukrainian officials won to prepare for the second wave was used ineffectively. As, in fact, the money allocated for the fight against coronavirus has gone.

And now about the economy. Entrepreneurs who are now opposing tough anti-epidemic measures recall: the spring lockdown, which lasted in Ukraine from March 12 to May 12, caused significant losses to small and medium-sized businesses.

"For small businesses, the consequences of a second lockdown can be dramatic. A third of the entrepreneurs we surveyed say they will scale down or even close their businesses in the event of a second lockdown," the European Business Association said, citing an internal survey.

According to them, only 21% of respondents assured that quarantine would not affect their work at all or would have a minimal effect. All the rest are in the risk zone or on the verge of closing.

In general, the assessment of how much the business suffered during the quarantine is based on tax deductions. Based on them, we can say that the greatest losses during the first lockdown were incurred by cinemas, which in March-September 2020 paid 55% fewer taxes than in the same period of the previous year.

The chain of catering establishments is under attack. Already over the last weekend, when the weekend quarantine was in effect, they missed 35-40% of their revenue, the lion's share of which falls on Saturday-Sunday. This is the data of Poster, a company that specializes in cafe and restaurant automation. And according to political scientist Oleksiy Yakubin, after the first lockdown, a third of organizations from the service sector did not open.

The creative industry has lost $ 3 billion due to Covid-19 and quarantine, according to the Minister of Culture Oleksander Tkachenko. According to his calculations, the current losses to the economy reach 2% of GDP. If the situation is not influenced, the country's losses can grow up to 10% of GDP, as well as provoke a significant increase in unemployment, the minister predicts.

The fact that the next tough quarantine will further affect a certain part of the business is a leitmotif of entrepreneurs' resistance to anti-epidemic measures.

Not only business but also ordinary Ukrainians financially suffer from the lockdown. As a result of the quarantine, local budgets receive less traditional subsidies from the state budget, and this casts doubt on the development of the local economy and local medicine as well. This is emphasized, in particular, by the mayor of Cherkasy Anatoly Bondarenko. In addition, in Ukraine, according to various experts, there is no fair compensation mechanism for victims of the lockdown.

Unemployment is on the rise due to the downtime of a number of businesses or job cuts in the private sector.

“Now we are running out of funds to pay benefits to the unemployed. We have about 5 vacancies for 50 thousand applicants. That is, there are simply no jobs,” says Yakubin.

Lockdown will have consequences for the mental state of Ukrainians. Sitting within four walls, without money and a job affects the level of alcoholism in the country and the number of cases of domestic violence. During 2020, the number of calls to the Ministry of Internal Affairs about this increased by 40%. The general level of anxiety and nervousness is growing in society. At least according to the estimates of the Ukrainians themselves.

Thus, 41% of respondents assess their emotional state as calm, 29% - as tense. At the same time, in comparison with March, the tension indicators slightly increased. A higher level of anxiety is recorded among women, the elderly, as well as those who more often follow the news about the coronavirus and are afraid of getting sick, according to the Rating group. It is clear that each subsequent tightening of the coronavirus "screws" will only increase the panic.

All this, in turn, affects the chances of a lockdown to turn into a social explosion. People, in the end, will start protesting against the restriction of their freedoms - this is what Yevgen Golovakha, Doctor of Philosophy, noted in an interview with the Livyi Bereh newspaper back in April.

He said that it is difficult for the average Ukrainian to follow the example of China.

"In China, not authoritarianism played a decisive role, but the psychotype of the Chinese - their ability to self-restraint, self-discipline. This has been laid down for many centuries and is associated with the religion and culture of China. This is impossible in our country," he noted.

The opposition between the argument in favor of preserving life and the counterargument regarding the deterioration of the quality of this life continues. But, according to the Rating group, the second is in the lead. In general, Ukrainians are more inclined towards contra: 61% of respondents surveyed by sociologists consider it inappropriate to introduce strict quarantine.

Related: Coronavirus in Ukraine dashboard: online

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