While students and schoolchildren miss their studies, cinemas lose money, speculators earn on masks and antiseptics, the Boryspil airport welcomes arrivals from Rome and Milan. No one is sent to compulsory two-week quarantine, as it was the case with repatriates from China.
Indeed, God forbid, Novi Sanzhary 2.0 will happen. And the fact that potential patients will walk around the city is not a big deal, because mayor Klitschko introduced quarantine. Ukrainians will be saved by the fact that newcomers will not be able to go to entertainment areas in shopping centers and cinemas. They will just ride the subway, visit restaurants, gyms, boutiques and supermarkets. And in five regions of Ukraine, where restrictions were not imposed, they will be able to visit any public places they want.
For comparison, in Israel, all arrivals are compelled to quarantine for two weeks: not only tourists, but also citizens of the country. There were hopes that at the meeting of the National Security and Defense Council officials will repeat this experience and declare a state of emergency. But instead, authorities only barred the entry of foreigners.
The decision, to put it mildly, is a bit belated and inconsistent. While neighboring Moldova and Kazakhstan closed borders with countries where the coronavirus was recorded, Tajikistan banned entry from 35 countries, and the United States from Iran and Europe, Ukraine announced that it would not close the border. The Foreign Ministry said on February 28 that "in principle, it is not considering such an option as all other countries of the world." Two weeks was enough to change the mind.
Will the National Security and Defense Council save us?
The border is closed from March 16. Although some air operators return money for tickets to people, two more flights from Italy to Ukraine arrived at Boryspil Airport on March 14. There were no tests there: only temperature measuring systems and “visual inspection of the passenger,” whatever that means. And this happened despite the fact that the symptoms of the virus, including temperature, may not appear for several days.
So Ukraine will be closed for entry for at least two weeks. But foreign diplomats will continue to visit our country without any problems. Politics is above all.
But the most important thing is that Ukrainians themselves will be able to freely go abroad and return for at least another half month. Including to the countries where infection is already detected. The Foreign Ministry only recommended Ukrainians to refuse to travel. They will think about the ban on leaving “depending on the development of events”.
Instead of completely closing the border, the government will spend $ 4 million on gloves, masks, protective suits, and infrared scanning equipment. Meanwhile, multinational companies in Ukraine are suspending domestic and international travel. The Czech Republic, Estonia and Bulgaria have introduced a state of emergency.
The hitch of the Ukrainian authorities can be explained by the high importance and complexity of the issue, because the ban on exit and entry can provoke a total panic, and then people will buy up the remains of buckwheat and antiviral drugs. But everything is much simpler than it seems. A simple decision must be made: we either prohibit entry and exit from the country and enter quarantine (in that order), or we do our best to slow down the epidemic until the specific drugs are invented. We buy masks and tests and wait for further twists of fate.
You can’t just limit the work of individual business representatives, as well as business meetings with foreigners. This will become a problem for an already deficit budget and will not have a minimal justification in the form of protecting the health of Ukrainians.
Moreover, the decision must be made as quickly as possible, because every day a mutated virus takes new lives. By the time of the introduction of a complete ban on entry and exit, it may be too late.
Representatives of European countries are already trumpeting that closing the borders will not help. This is indicated by the Minister of Health of Germany, as well as Chancellor Angela Merkel. France has the same position. And the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said that it is impossible to stop the COVID-19 coronavirus in the European Union. And at the Institute for Migration Policy's they say that border closure only works on islands where it’s a little easier to control migration flows. In Europe, breaking ties is 100% impossible.
If the authorities want to pursue the goal of only showing that they have not forgotten about the problem, it would be better if they achieved it by acquiring tests for coronavirus. So far, the Ministry of Health has received only 19,600 packages. This is 490 000 tests. In Ukraine, according to the unofficial census of the ex-minister Dubilet, 37 289 000 people live. That is, every 76th can be checked. And this despite the fact that every second test does not work, and person can be infected again (more than 200 cases have already been recorded).
Instead, Zelensky promises once again to put pressure on the business and “talk with manufacturers and suppliers” so that they lower the price of tests. The vertical of the epidemiological service has not yet been restored. There are no sufficient mechanical ventilation devices. The government just promised to purchase masks.
Coronavirus is not the worst thing that exists in Ukraine. The authorities’s approach to our health is much worse.