Search

 

Cablegate: Ukraine: Death Toll and Panic Rising While Politicians

VZCZCXRO6381
PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHKV #1900/01 3061500
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021500Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8715
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA PRIORITY
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KYIV 001900

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CDC SOCI PREL AMED CASC XH UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: DEATH TOLL AND PANIC RISING WHILE POLITICIANS
TRADE ACCUSATIONS

REF: A) 09 KYIV 01890 B) 09 KYIV 01893

KYIV 00001900 001.2 OF 002


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION

1. (SBU) Summary. The Ukrainian government appealed for
international help on November 1 as the official death toll from flu
and respiratory infections reached 60, with at least 13 of those
deaths caused by the A-H1N1 virus. The government is implementing
unprecedented measures to combat the outbreak (Ref B) and has
pledged $375 million (3 billion hryvia) to fight the flu outbreak.
Minister of Health Knyazevich urged politicians to "cease spreading
panic" and stated that Ukraine's situation is not unusual among
countries experiencing A-H1N1 flu outbreaks. The political
opposition meanwhile accused the government of failing to prevent
the flu epidemic. End Summary.

DEATH TOLL RISING
-----------------

2. (U) The Ministry of Health has confirmed 67 influenza- and acute
respiratory viral infections-associated deaths in Ternopil,
Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi, Lviv, Rivne and Volyn oblasts (all in
Western Ukraine) for the period of October 19 through November 1.
At least 22 of those deaths are confirmed to have been caused by
A-H1N1. The official estimate as of November 1 of flu-sufferers
numbers 191,431; of those, 7,524 have been hospitalized. So far,
there are no confirmed cases of A-H1N1 in Kyiv, but there have been
at least three flu-related deaths in Ukraine's second largest city
-- Kharkiv -- in eastern Ukraine, according to the media.

STRICT MEASURES
---------------

3. (U) The government announced strict measures to combat the spread
of the flu, closing schools in all Ukraine for three weeks and
suspending all public events (Ref B). [Note: Interestingly, the
Dynamo Kyiv - Inter Milan Champions League match is expected to take
place as scheduled on November 4. End Note.] Over the weekend,
Presidential candidates cancelled their election events, and the
Ministry of Defense suspended the annual draft into Ukraine's
conscript army. At an Emergency Session on October 30, the Cabinet
of Ministers declared the flu outbreak a "level three" threat (the
highest possible threat level) and allocated UAH3 billion to fight
the disease. The government has also launched a public service
announcement campaign to educate the public about steps to prevent
the spread of the flu. In addition, authorities have set up two
hotlines to provide information about the A-H1N1 virus and to
collect complaints about pharmaceutical and medical services and
incidents of price gauging.

APPEAL FOR HELP AND INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
------------------------------------------

4. (SBU) President Yushchenko appealed for international help on
October 30 and, according to the Presidential Secretariat's website,
sent letters to his counterparts in Belarus, Hungary, Poland,
Russia, Romania, Slovakia, the United States, as well as to the EU
President, and NATO Secretary General. According to Foreign
Minister Poroshenko, 12 countries have agreed to supply Ukraine with
equipment and medicine to tackle the outbreak. Meanwhile, Ukraine
negotiated a purchase of 300,000 doses of Tamiflu from Swiss drug
maker Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd at a price of UAH67 (about US$8.40) per
dose. The shipment arrived at the Kyiv Boryspil International
Airport to great fanfare this morning, with Prime Minister
Tymoshenko, Poroshenko and Kyiv governor Ulyanchenko welcoming the
shipment. The drug will reportedly be distributed to hospitals in
western Ukraine and provided to sick patients free of charge.
According to news reports, a World Health Organization (WHO) team is
expected to arrive in Ukraine today, November 2, to evaluate the
outbreak.

PANIC MODE
----------

5. (SBU) Witnesses continue to report lines outside of pharmacies,
as people try to stock up on flu medicine and surgical masks. A
number of pharmacies were reportedly unable to meet the sudden spike
in demand and quickly ran out of supplies. People of all ages are
now seen wearing surgical masks on Kyiv's streets. According to an
Interfax news report, Our Ukraine/People's Self-Defense Bloc MP
Volodymyr Stretovych even proposed that all MPs attend Rada meetings
in surgical masks to demonstrate the seriousness of the flu epidemic
threat.

6. (U) Minister of Health Knyazevich urged politicians to cease
spreading panic and stated that Ukraine's situation is not unusual
among countries experiencing A-H1N1 flu outbreaks. PM Tymoshenko
meanwhile blamed the "dishonest behavior of Ukrainian politicians

KYIV 00001900 002.2 OF 002


and certain political forces" for spreading panic. According to
Tymoshenko, Ukraine is grappling with "an epidemic of common flu
accompanied by a small number of lab-confirmed cases of [A-H1N1]
flu."

COMMENT: POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS
-------------------------------

7. (SBU) Tymoshenko has imposed severe measures to deal with the
outbreak, although infection and death rates are comparable to other
countries experiencing swine flu. The opposition is criticizing
her, however, saying that the measures were not taken early enough.
It is still too soon to tell whether the public supports
Tymoshenko's response to the outbreak, but commentators are starting
to question whether the extreme measures (such as closing schools,
limiting travel within the country, and cancelling political
rallies) are simply motivated by the Prime Minister's desire to look
strong in advance of the January presidential elections. There are
rumors circulating that the election could be postponed because
candidates are losing out on three weeks of campaigning. However,
under Ukrainian law, postponement of the elections would require a
state of emergency to be declared and be in effect on election day,
January 17. The Prime Minister, the President, and the Rada
leadership would also need to agree to a postponement, something
that would be difficult to achieve given the current political
environment. End Comment.

PETTIT

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

OECD: COVID-19 Crisis Puts Migration And Progress On Integration At Risk, Says

Watch the live webcast of the press conference Migration flows have increased over the past decade and some progress has been made to improve the integration of immigrants in the host countries. But some of these gains may be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic ... More>>


Pacific Media Watch: How Pacific Environmental Defenders Are Coping With The Covid Pandemic

SPECIAL REPORT: By Sri Krishnamurthi of Pacific Media Watch Pacific Climate Warriors - creative action to trigger better responses to climate crisis. Image: ... More>>

Reporters Without Borders: Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Marred By Barriers To Open Justice

After monitoring four weeks of evidence in the US extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates concern regarding the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism, and calls ... More>>

OHCHR: Stranded Migrants Need Safe And Dignified Return – UN Migrant Workers Committee

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers has today called on governments to take immediate action to address the inhumane conditions of migrant workers who are stranded in detention camps and ensure they can have an orderly, safe and dignified return to ... More>>