Ukraine reports record coronavirus deaths amid vaccine concerns – Metro US

Ukraine reports record coronavirus deaths amid vaccine concerns

FILE PHOTO: Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Kyiv
FILE PHOTO: Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Kyiv

KYIV (Reuters) -Ukraine reported a record daily number of coronavirus-related deaths for the second consecutive day on Wednesday, as the health ministry sought to ease public concerns over the safety of vaccines.

Ukraine also recorded a record number of hospitalisations as the more transmissible British strain of the virus sweeps through the country.

Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said there were 342 deaths over the past 24 hours, up from 333 in the previous 24 hours, taking the overall COVID-19 death toll to 30,773.

Stepanov said 14,174 new infections were reported, increasing total cases to around 1.6 million.

A record 5,438 Ukrainians were taken to hospital with COVID-19 over the past day, Stepanov said on Facebook. The previous daily record was 4,887 on March 11.

That level is well above the previous peak of the pandemic in late 2020 when daily hospitalisations did not exceed 2,000. Hospitalisations began to rise in late winter during the new wave of infections.

Polls show that less than a half of the Ukrainian population is ready to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The military said on Tuesday that a servicewoman died two days after receiving the CoviShield vaccine.

The health ministry said on Wednesday the woman had not complained of any ill effects after taking the shot.

It urged the public not to jump to conclusions about the death, which is still being investigated, and said the woman had chronic cardiovascular disease and other comorbidities.

Nine other people were given the vaccine from the same batch on the same day and had no ill effects, it said.

The country of 41 million people on Tuesday tightened border controls in a bid to slow infections, requiring visitors to test negative for coronavirus, as Stepanov said the British strain of the virus was widespread.

Ukraine began rolling out its COVID-19 vaccination programme last month but the pace is slow, with just 137,026 people receiving the first shot by March 24.

Ukraine received 500,000 doses of India-made AstraZeneca vaccine CoviShield in February and expects to receive the first batch of China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets; Editing by Sam Holmes, Jane Wardell and Kim Coghill)