Kharkiv Oblast declares emergency due to COVID-19
Kharkiv Oblast declared an emergency due to the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus in Ukraine, Oleksii Kucher, the head of Kharkiv regional state administration, said in a meeting with local authorities on March 21.
Earlier on March 20, the first woman in Kharkiv Oblast, some 500 kilometers east off Kyiv, tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Ukraine now has 41 confirmed cases, 15 of which were identified on March 20. Globally, COVID-19 has been detected in over 271,000 people and has killed nearly 12,000 people.
Declaration of emergency in a city or oblast means that the local authorities have to establish an emergency liquidation headquarters and a commission. The two bodies must gather data, monitor the situation, draw up an action plan and get emergency services ready.
An emergency should not be confused with a state of emergency, which is declared by the president and approved by parliament when there is a nationwide threat.
According to Kucher, Kharkiv authorities have already created an emergency headquarters, of which he is in charge.
Kucher says the body will study how to further restrict access to public transportation, in case the disease continues to spread. Kharkiv already limited public transport, shutting down the metro and allowing other city vehicles like buses and trams to carry no more than 10 passengers at a time.
An emergency has also been declared in the city of Kyiv, as well as Dnipro and Ivano-Frankivsk oblasts, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal wrote in his Telegram channel on March 20.
Previously, three oblasts including Chernivtsi, Zhytomyr and Kyiv have declared an emergency since the coronavirus started spreading throughout Ukraine.
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