The media made a little bit of clarity, saying yesterday that the government was going to introduce a lockdown from December 23 to January 15, but subsequently, Minister of Health Maksym Stepanov denied this information.
He also explained that the main factor in strengthening quarantine measures is the indicator of the load on the medical system, in particular, its ability to provide medical care to everyone without exception.
Also, according to him, if during December the daily incidence of coronavirus in Ukraine reaches 25,000-35,000 people, this will become the basis for a decision on a lockdown.
Initially, both the Ministry of Health and the President's Office voiced completely different figures, at which the medical system would not withstand the load and its collapse would occur.
Critical daily incidence: from 9,500 to 35,000
A month and a half ago, at a time when the average daily increase in cases in the country was about 4,000, President Zelensky said that a daily figure of 9,500 patients would entail the introduction of strict lockdown.
"The situation will become critical for the medical system of Ukraine when there will be 9,500 daily infections. If we have more than 9,500 infected daily, we will be forced to introduce strict quarantine. But then the economy of our country will stop and it will be very difficult for everyone," the head of state said.
A few days later, on October 22, the president said that the medical system would be able to withstand about 15,000 new infections per day, and not 9,500, as previously thought.
“A month ago, we thought that with 9,500 cases a day, our medical system would stop - there would not be enough beds in infectious diseases hospitals and doctors ... Today Minister Stepanov is right that with 15,000 cases we can introduce a lockdown,” Zelensky said.
According to him, the criteria for assessing the number of daily infections, according to the results of which the state will be forced to resort to strict quarantine, will change depending on the readiness of medical institutions.
Also, one of the determining factors in this issue, the head of state called the availability of doctors who can provide assistance to patients with Covid-19. They are trying to increase their number by re-profiling departments of medical institutions and attracting interns and students, but "this resource is not limitless."
Around the same time, when the president called the figure of 15,000 cases critical, Minister of Health Maksym Stepanov said that the resources of the health department would be depleted with 20,000 patients daily.
“When the daily number of cases will be about 20,000 patients, we will have to introduce the activation of the triage protocol with the priority of providing medical care,” Stepanov announced.
If the situation with morbidity comes to the introduction of a protocol for medical trips, which provides for the provision of medical care to a patient who has more chances of recovery, then a full lockdown can be introduced in Ukraine.
“A full lockdown is possible if the triage protocol starts working. The triage protocol is a lockdown of the health care system and it is automatically a lockdown of the country when a doctor must choose who to save and who not to save,” Mykhailo Radutsky, the head of the parliamentary committee on the health of the nation, medical care and health insurance, noted.
A week and a half ago, the Minister of Health said that with the ratio of the number of infected and hospitalized, which was observed at that time, a full lockdown is possible with 30,000 new patients with Covid-19 per day.
“For us, the main thing is the number of hospitalized people. If we talk about the percentage of infected people who get to the hospital, I think that this (a lockdown of the medical system will occur - ed.) Is already on the order of more than 30,000 per day in a certain period, then this can cause serious problems with the load on the medical system,” the minister said.
So far, the last announced threshold, after crossing which one can definitely expect a decision on lockdown, is set at 25,000-35,000 cases per day.
“From 25 to 35,000 patients per day can increase the number of hospitalized, and we will have reason to propose the introduction of strict quarantine,” said Stepanov.
According to him, such a number of cases in Ukraine was predicted for December 1, however, fortunately, this did not happen. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Health admitted the possibility of a similar increase in the number of infected people within a month.
Why have these numbers changed?
In parallel with the deterioration of the epidemiological situation, the Ministry of Health continued to expand and increase the number of beds for patients with Covid-19.
At the end of November, almost 56,000 beds were equipped in Ukraine for those infected with coronavirus, of which only 49.9% were filled. For comparison, in mid-October, Zelensky noted that in a number of regions, the occupancy of beds is 70%, and in some cities, it reaches 100%.
"Now we have a heterogeneous situation in the country. There are regions where the load is higher, while in the other it's lower. But still, there is a certain growth throughout the country. Beds, oxygen are added, this work continues," the minister added.
At the beginning of last month, when Ukraine moved to the second stage of responding to coronavirus infection, chief sanitary doctor Viktor Lyashko announced that the number of beds for Covid-19 patients in the country is planned to be increased to 80,000. Most of them are promised to be provided with oxygen.
Stepanov the day before in an interview with Channel 24 noted that the department found opportunities, if necessary, to increase the number of beds for patients with coronavirus to 90,000.