Today, Ukraine's medical system can withstand about 15,000 new COVID-19 infections per day, although until recently the critical number was about 9,500 patients daily. We are holding an active re-equipment of hospitals and provision of health workers. But this resource is not infinite, so citizens must comply with quarantine restrictions. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted this in an interview “Autumn 2020: Victories and Challenges” for four Ukrainian TV channels.
The Head of State noted that a strict lockdown will completely stop Ukraine's economy, and now its introduction is impractical.
According to the President, the estimate of the number of daily infections, under which the state will be forced to resort to strict quarantine measures, varies depending on the readiness of medical institutions.
"A month ago, we thought that with 9.5 thousand patients a day, our medicine would stop - there would not be enough beds in infectious diseases hospitals and enough doctors ... Today, Minister Stepanov is right that with 15 thousand we can impose a lockdown," the Head of State emphasized.
He added that one of the determining factors is the availability of doctors who can help patients with COVID-19. There are attempts to increase their number by repurposing the departments of medical institutions and attracting interns and students. But this resource is not limitless.
"We cannot repurpose the entire medical system of Ukraine for patients with COVID-19. Millions of doctors cannot suddenly appear in Ukraine. This is a big problem, and that is why we turn to people - we understand fatigue, but please wear masks - not only for yourself, but also for people around you," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
According to the President, in the spring the country was not ready for the epidemic of coronavirus disease, in particular, there was no vertical of public health physicians, production of personal protective equipment, ventilators. So far, the authorities have managed to provide the population and hospitals with the necessary protection, medical equipment and test systems.
When asked about the misuse of funds from the Coronavirus Fund, the President noted that the COVID-19 fund does not consist of money provided separately. It consists of the money from the state budget, which was previously allocated to various programs, but their implementation was temporarily suspended due to the epidemic. Thus, according to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Large Construction program is financed due to part of the funds that Naftogaz of Ukraine won in the Stockholm Arbitration from the Russian company Gazprom. The program provides for the restoration of roads, on which, among other things, ambulances drive taking patients to hospitals.
"No one took money from COVID-19 patients," the President stressed.
The President also noted the qualification of Ukrainian doctors in the treatment of coronavirus patients and the importance of their sufficient financial support.
"We have almost the lowest mortality rate in Europe - 1.9% (of the number of patients - ed.), because doctors know how to treat COVID-19 patients. They learned quickly - Italians invited our doctors for a reason," the President said, adding that since September the salaries of medical workers have been increased.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy also considers it expedient to increase the responsibility for non-compliance with quarantine measures. He added that he regularly holds meetings, including with local authorities, on the danger of a new wave of the epidemic. And criminal proceedings have already been initiated against mayors for non-compliance with quarantine.
The President also said that a unique Ukrainian vaccine against COVID-19 is undergoing clinical trials (not yet on humans). Specialists have been working on the drug for about six months.
The Head of State noted that no one in Ukraine has developed vaccines since Soviet times. He added that if the coronavirus vaccine is successfully tested, he is ready to try it on himself.
"But, notwithstanding our Ukrainian vaccine, if someone has a confirmed vaccine earlier, we will purchase it in any case. We will not wait for ours, but then we will add it, too. Because we will fight COVID-19 for many years. The vaccine will work for many years," the President said.