WHO warns of possible COVID surge in Ukraine amidst Russia invasion
The World Health Organization on Wednesday warned of a possible COVID-19 surge in Ukraine and critical oxygen shortages with at least three major oxygen plants in the country closed.
Ukraine is experiencing a critical shortage of oxygen impacting the ability to treat those patients.
WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus said that just prior to the war, Ukraine was experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases.
With low testing rates since the start of the conflict, there’s likely to be significant undetected transmissions, Ghebreyesus said.
Ghebreyesus warned that with low testing and vaccination rates in Ukraine, the risk of large numbers of people developing severe disease increases.
The WHO said it is seeking ways of accessing oxygen from neighboring countries and ways to deliver it safely, saying there is an urgent need to establish a corridor for humanitarian workers and supplies to reach people in need.
Ghebreyesus said he is deeply concerned about the unfolding humanitarian emergency in Ukraine. The first WHO shipment meant to meet the needs of 1,000 patients in Ukraine will arrive in Poland on Thursday. It contains 6 metric tons of supplies for trauma care and emergency surgery.
The WHO has released $5.2 million from their contingency fund for emergencies and said it will need $45 million for Ukraine for the next 3 months and $12.5 million to support neighboring countries in their care for refugees.