By Pavel Polityuk
KYIV (Reuters) -Ukraine is tightening border controls and requiring visitors to test negative for coronavirus, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said on Tuesday, after the country registered its highest daily death rate from COVID-19.
The new regime was approved by the government on Monday evening and had entered into force, he told a televised briefing.
Earlier on Tuesday, he said the former Soviet republic had registered 333 coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24 hours, a record number. The previous high was 289 deaths on March 17.
The country of 41 million people has been hit by a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks that Prime Minister Denys Shmygal has described as a third wave of the pandemic.
“The situation is getting worse,” Stepanov said, adding the number of new cases had risen significantly and the number of cases in the last seven days was 26,000 higher than a week earlier.
The British strain of the virus was now widespread in Ukraine, Stepanov said, adding that it was transmitted faster and had a more severe impact. “Two-thirds of those who have recovered require additional treatment,” he said.
There are 36,600 people in hospitals as of Tuesday morning, Stepanov said, adding that 11,476 new infections were reported in the past 24 hours.
Ukraine has reported 1,565,732 coronavirus cases during the course of the pandemic and 30,431 deaths.
New coronavirus infections spiked last week to 15,850 cases, Ukraine’s highest level since November, prompting the capital Kyiv and several regions to impose a tight lockdown.
The lockdown mirrors measures to be introduced on Friday by Lviv, in the west of Ukraine, and includes closing cafes, restaurants and non-food stores, and banning public events.
Critics blame the surge on a lack of a uniform nationwide lockdown and patchy compliance with social distancing and mask-wearing rules.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Michael Perry and Edmund Blair)