Covid-19 Could Surge in Ukraine, Warn Doctors

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Global health officials have warned that there will be a rise of Covid-19 cases in Ukraine tied to Russia’s invasion, but doctors also worry about a surge in other infectious diseases: polio, cholera and measles, reports CNN.

Ukraine vaccination rates

Before the war, Ukraine had low vaccination rates against those diseases, Kate White, an emergency program manager for Doctors Without Borders, told CNN on Tuesday.

Now, doctors on the ground in Ukraine worry that a rise in these vaccine-preventable infectious diseases will be another consequence of Russia’s invasion — and that even more lives could be lost to the spread of disease.

“In terms of what we call vaccine-preventable diseases, the status in Ukraine was that the population was not vaccinated to the extent which you would get herd immunity like you would in many other European countries or in the US,” White said.

Not only have vaccinations been low, the administration of routine immunizations “is no longer functioning” because the nation’s health system has been “disrupted.”

Spread of other diseases

“Then, on top of that, you have the overall public health situation — so many cities where lack of access to health care is compromised, some places where they no longer have the water supply that they used to, they don’t have electricity, there’s issues with sanitation — so all of these risk factors pile up on top of each other, which means that there is an increased risk,” White said, referring to diseases like cholera that usually spread in places with inadequate water treatment, poor sanitation and inadequate hygiene. Meanwhile, the risk of polio and measles rises as more people gather and flee the area while medical supplies dwindle.

Ukraine has seen outbreaks of these diseases before.

Major Russian attacks and damage

“There was a polio outbreak in Ukraine last year,” White said. “Ukraine was the last country within Europe to have a cholera outbreak in 2011, and that was in Mariupol.”

Today, the city of Mariupol remains a site of major Russian attacks and damage.

Conditions in Mariupol are “unbearable” and “just hell,” residents who fled the besieged city in southeastern Ukraine have told CNN, as drone footage and satellite photos have emerged showing utter devastation wrought by the Russian bombardment.

As many as 2,500 civilians have died in Mariupol, Ukrainian officials estimate. About 350,000 people are trapped in the city, with officials warning that those who remain are without electricity, water and heat.

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Source: CNN

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