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Ukraine To Shut Schools, Universities To Prevent Coronavirus Spread


Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko
Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko

KYIV -- The Ukrainian government has decided to ban mass gatherings and to close schools and universities for three weeks in a bid to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The government said in a statement on March 11 that it was banning all mass events with more than 200 expected participants.

Some sporting events might go ahead with the agreement of the relevant international organizations, but without spectators.

The government also banned until June 1 the export of masks and other gear to ensure there are no shortages of protective equipment.

The statement did not say when the measures would come into force.

The coronavirus outbreak has infected more than 118,000 people, with deaths reaching nearly 4,300.

Ukraine's only confirmed coronavirus patient is a resident of the southwestern region of Chernivitsi who had recently traveled to Italy.

Earlier in the day, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko announced that schools and universities in the Ukrainian capital would be closed until the end of March, as part of "preventive measures" against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In a video message posted on his Facebook page, Klitschko said mass events such as concerts and conferences would also be restricted in the city from March 12, while cinemas and entertainment areas in shopping malls would remain closed.

Public transport will continue to operate as usual, he said.

"Even though not a single case of the coronavirus has been registered in Kyiv, we have decided not to wait and protect the residents of the city," the mayor said.

On March 10, Klitschko announced that Kyiv had received rapid test kits for the virus.

"Right now, there are 1,200 [kits], by the end of the week we'll have 5,000. The test kits will be distributed to seven designated hospitals that will accept patients suspected of being ill with the coronavirus," wrote on Facebook.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP
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