Why autumn Covid-19 wave plunges Ukraine into turnoil?

Author : Iryna Shostak

Source : 112 Ukraine

Hospitals in Odesa, Kharkiv, Chernivtsi, and Kherson, have no places for covid patients, Dnipro does not have enough ventilators, and doctors of the Mykolaiv region are sounding the alarm - hospitals are running out of medical oxygen. At the same time, President Zelensky declares: the country is ready for new challenges of the epidemic
09:28, 25 October 2021


According to Zelensky, up to 90,000 beds are being deployed in Ukraine in infectious diseases hospitals with oxygen and mechanical ventilation devices. But does this mean that we are really ready for an increase in the incidence?

The coronavirus pandemic has been a nightmare for the whole world for the second year. And it seemed that after a year and a half of the epidemic, we would identify mistakes, weaknesses and draw conclusions. This means that we will become stronger, prepare ourselves and withstand the next battle for sure.

But everything happened exactly the opposite: the incidence rate this time is higher than even during the first peak of the pandemic. And the mortality rate is growing by leaps and bounds - we are in the top ten countries in which this figure is off the charts. Although last year in the same rating Ukraine was difficult to find.

Related: CovidUkraine: 23,229 new cases over last 24hrs

Since the beginning of autumn, Ukraine has been absorbed by a new wave of coronavirus. 6 regions of the country have already managed to "blush": Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Odesa, Kherson and Sumy. Another seven regions and the capital are on the "turn". Tough restrictive measures began to operate in these zones.

The spread of coronavirus is very high today - over the past week, 105 thousand people fell ill, which is 11% more than a week earlier. Ukraine is in the top 5 countries in terms of the number of new cases of Covid-19 in the world.

And the mortality situation is even more frightening - on October 20, we lost 7.5 times more countrymen than residents of Thailand, and 34 times more than residents of Pakistan. In seven days, the covid caused the death of 2,300 Ukrainians, which is 22% more than the week before.

The spread of the Delta strain is considered to be one of the reasons for such a high mortality rate. Doctors note: "Delta" is more infectious, spreads faster, and people get sick more severely.

“Today we are seeing a much higher mortality rate than in the first waves of covid. And this despite the fact that we are the smallest region in Ukraine (Chernivtsi). This strain is much more complicated, complications and pathological processes develop at lightning speed. , postpartum and pregnant women," says Olga Kobevko, an infectious disease doctor at the Chernivtsi Regional Hospital, in a commentary.

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Despite this, according to Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Ukraine will not introduce a general lockdown.

Will there be enough beds, ventilators and medical oxygen for everyone?

Related: Covid-19 outbreak in Ukraine: Security Council predicts over 1,000 deaths per day

According to Zelensky, up to 90,000 beds in infectious diseases hospitals with oxygen and mechanical ventilation devices are being deployed in Ukraine per day. The Ministry of Health also says that everything is under control. They say that the occupancy of beds in covid hospitals is at the level of 50-60%. But is it really so?

A number of regions already report a shortage of "covid" places in hospitals, and doctors emphasize: whether there will be more, because the peak of the autumn wave is still ahead.

According to acting deputy Mayor Roman Holovnya in Kherson, during the "holiday" weekend (from 14 to 17 October), about 1,500 townspeople were infected. And today, medical institutions are filled to capacity - everyone who gets sick has to be taken out to the region.

"City hospitals that work with Covid-19 are almost 100% full. Hospitalization is underway in the nearest hospitals, in the city of Alyoshki. The option of sending patients to the Belozersk regional hospital is being worked out," says Holovnya in a video message posted on Facebook by the Kherson City Council.

Doctors of the city try to discharge convalescents as quickly as possible, but there are still no places. Moreover, oxygen is also coming to an end, which, by the way, is needed 2-4 times more during the current wave.

The lack of beds is reported by doctors in Chernivtsi, Vinnytsia, Odesa, Kharkiv, Dnipro, and Mykolaiv (and some of the cities are not even included in the "red" zone yet). First of all, the intensive care units are packed to capacity. At the same time, according to doctors, during the current wave, patients have a more severe course of the disease compared to previous waves of the epidemic. And this means that often patients are admitted to such a stage that they must be immediately put into intensive care.

Related: Forgery of Covid certificates: Police opened almost 800 criminal cases

"The regional hospital has deployed 180 beds for the treatment of patients with coronavirus, but their number is constantly increasing. Now we are deploying new beds in other departments. In fact, our entire hospital is already infectious," said Volodymyr Chobotarev, head of the intensive care unit of the Vinnytsia Central Regional Clinical Hospital. In the intensive care unit of the Mechnikov Regional Hospital in Dnipro, where patients with Covid-19 are sent, there are not enough ventilators. This was stated by the medical director of the institution, Serhiy Ryzhenko.

With medical oxygen, the situation is much sadder - due to the stoppage of two main oxygen producers in the country, doctors from several regions of Ukraine report a decrease in its reserves. The question is more than serious, because patients with the "Delta" strain of coronavirus especially need oxygen. And since it dominates today, the percentage of those in dire need of oxygen is off the charts.

The Ministry of Health does not deny the problem either. So, the Ministry began to urgently look for alternative sources of oxygen supply. Reassuring the public that there is no global deficit in Ukraine. But on the other side, at the forefront of the fight against covid, everything is seen completely differently.

Volunteers note that oxygen is now one of the most demanded resources. Lots of people call various charities looking for hubs. And doctors are forced to actually take it almost out of thin air.

"Today we went to reduce oxygen, there is a liter, there is a liter. Oh, the saturation is 96? Let's remove a couple of liters. The oxygen station cannot withstand the load, it is simply not designed for such a need. 45 beds consume about 300 liters per minute from the station, plus more than 20 in operation. concentrators ... 1-2 cylinders of oxygen are consumed per night," doctor-anesthesiologist Ivan Chernenko notes.

Collapses in hospitals, lack of oxygen, and working hands - this hardly looks like an alert for the peak of the autumn wave of covid. But why do President Zelensky and the Ministry of Health unanimously assure that everything will be fine?

Related: Pre-covid horrors back: What's the danger of new outbreaks of influenza and SARS?

"Each region has departments and regional administrations, and they are filled with people responsible for pandemic issues (city preparation, etc.). Each of them wants to provide the best indicators for their city," says Olga Kobevko, an infectious disease doctor. - For example, how it is done here, in the Chernivtsi region: our curator for medical issues, the deputy governor submits reports to Kyiv on a daily basis, for example, on the number and occupancy of beds. If she sees that there is a problematic situation, the incidence rate is increasing, she calls our hospital and says: "We are increasing by 40 beds. I do not care where they will be located. And hangs up. Then there is a report that 40 beds are added, and the hospitalization rate decreases - an indicator that the curator is working effectively."

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According to the doctor, those for whom such reports are prepared simply cannot come to the place and check if everything is as good as described. And they believe, concluding that it is far from the peak moment. At the same time, for example, in the Chernivtsi region, the peak moment has long come - "covid" hospitals have been overcrowded since September.

"Our intensive care units are overcrowded. And if, for example, they say: add 19 beds, then, in fact, we can only 15 patients - there is simply no equipment and medical staff. And the report says - 19 beds. This is how statistics are formed in Ukraine. Zelensky simply does not know what is really going on," Olga Kobevko sums up.

In addition to the questions of where to treat and how to treat, it is worth raising another, no less important: who will treat? After all, along with the search for oxygen, ventilators, and places in intensive care, they are looking for free specialists.

"The ambulance takes 4-5 hours. The doctors will just go to bed soon ... There will be no one to work with. And no one has canceled other diseases. There is not enough staff in the covid departments: 1-2 nurses for 50-60 patients," writes the head of the BF Monsters, Inc. Kateryna Nozhevnikova on her Facebook page.

The situation in the city is so deplorable that the mayor of Odessa, Gennady Trukhanov, is already directly asking the government for help with medical personnel. They say you can find beds, but you can't draw "hands".

Related: Lack of oxygen, high incidence, record mortality: Last news on Covid-19 in the world and in Ukraine

"Technical capabilities allow us to talk about the prospect of increasing the number of places if the situation requires it. But the issue of staffing is still acute. And here we also count on help from the government," the head of the city writes on his Facebook page.

There is no need to guess about the reasons why the number of doctors is decreasing: while in neighboring Poland the salaries of doctors reach (in our currency) 100 thousand hryvnyas per month (3,800 USD) and even more, our professionals receive about 15,000 hryvnias (600 USD). Since the beginning of 2020, the country has lost about 105,000 specialists (66,000 of them went abroad, the rest simply quit).

Feeling "unnecessary" after the winter wave of covid, during the period of "calm" (spring-summer), when salaries began to be delayed (the salary debt of doctors is about 12 million USD), the patience of many specialists has run out - they have ceased to be a part of Ukrainian medicine.

“During the period of lull, the authorities did not find the means how to preserve labor collectives, to keep doctors. No one did not raise their salaries, but also didn’t pay their due. Therefore, many left abroad or left the sphere altogether. And now the question is: who will save the Ukrainians in the next wave?" Oleg Panasenko, chairman of the Free Trade Union of Medical Workers of Ukraine, says in a comment.

The doctors were also not kept by the authorities' next promises to raise wages - in the draft budget for 2022, officials plan to lay the minimum wages for doctors from 800 USD, and for nurses from 600 USD At the same time, according to the expert, for the payments indicated in the draft budget, in fact, at least 10 billion USD should be allocated. Without this, such a leap, if attainable, is only through the dismissal of employees and the reduction of hospitals, from which the Ukrainians themselves will suffer. By the way, this is already happening today and without an ephemeral increase.

Hospitals, infectious diseases departments are being closed, doctors are being dismissed, as a result - Ukraine is the leader in anti-ratings for covid. And the reasons for this level of morbidity and mortality should be sought in the unlucky management of the Ukrainian medical system, and not in insufficient vaccination of the population. Infectious disease doctor Ihor Dubrovsky writes about this on his Facebook page.

"Since the beginning of the pandemic, the problems have been growing like a snowball. They talked about this. They reminded about it at every good moment. That a disaster would come. But no one listened," the doctor writes.

Vaccination is really important: a number of doctors working in infectious diseases wards emphasize that fewer vaccinated patients are admitted than unvaccinated ones. And they carry the disease much easier.

But the methods used by the authorities today in their attempts to vaccinate all of Ukraine leave much to be desired. First, we are talking about restrictions for unvaccinated citizens. And secondly - about statements that, apart from excessive panic, do not carry anything else in themselves.

Related: Over 94% of Ukrainians hospitalized with Covid within last week unvaccinated, - Health Ministry

So, the other day in the Rada, talking about the importance of vaccination, they casually mentioned the queue from hearses to the Kiev crematorium because of Covid-19. And everything would be fine if it were true.

"Absurd. Small queues at the crematorium almost every Monday, simply because Sunday is a day off. And on Monday, October 18, a greater influx could have been due to the fact that there were 4 days off," director of the ritual service at the Kyiv City Administration Oleksandr Golub says.

By the way, that there is no excitement at the crematorium, we were also informed at the City Funeral Service in Kyiv. Of course, this does not mean at all that it is not worth getting vaccinated.

Instead of thickening the picture, the authorities could have launched a widespread campaign against fake vaccinations. And from the very beginning of the pandemic, to motivate doctors with decent salaries, to support infectious diseases departments and hospitals with a pretty penny.

The staff of infectious disease specialists and pulmonologists in none of the country's "covid" hospitals was expanded, and the involvement of interns after graduation from medical universities also did not take place. And what did we get in the end? The excessive burden on the doctors who stayed behind to save the lives of Ukrainians. The shameful attitude, humiliation, abuse of personal time, and emotions of doctors brought the latter to a total breakdown.

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