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Ukrainians Protest Against Coronavirus Restrictions As Cases Spike

The November 3 rally comes as Ukraine has recently reported record numbers of daily coronavirus cases and deaths.
The November 3 rally comes as Ukraine has recently reported record numbers of daily coronavirus cases and deaths.

More than 1,000 people rallied in central Kyiv against Ukraine's tough COVID-19 restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus.

The November 3 rally comes as Ukraine has recently reported record numbers of daily coronavirus cases and deaths, prompting authorities to implement a raft of restrictions and call on people to get vaccinated.

Protesters gathered near the parliament building and blocked roads, holding posters reading, “No to vaccination,” “Say no to COVID passports,” and, “Say no to COVID genocide.”

There was a strong police presence. No clashes were reported.

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On November 2, Ukraine recorded 23,393 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 720 deaths, with health officials blaming the spread of the virus on widespread public hesitancy to get vaccinated.

Only about 17 percent of the country's 41 million people have been fully vaccinated with four available shots from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Sinovac.

The government made vaccinations against COVID-19 compulsory for some state employees by November 8 or have their salaries suspended.

Last week, the government also started requiring proof of vaccination, recovery from infection, or negative COVID-19 tests for people boarding airplanes, trains, and long-distance buses.

In so-called “red zones” with high infection rates, vaccine certificates or evidence of a negative COVID-19 test are required to enter restaurants, cafes, gyms, entertainment venues, and shopping malls. Staff working in those places must also be vaccinated.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko told RFE/RL this week that a large number of people are getting severely sick and the capacity of hospitals is more than 80 percent.

With hospitals reaching full capacity, the Health Ministry predicts that the greatest load on medical facilities will fall from mid-November until the beginning of next year.

"The burden of this wave, or how great it will be for Ukraine, will depend on the responsible behavior of each of us," Deputy Health Minister Ihor Kuzin said.

Ukraine has recorded more than 2.9 million coronavirus cases and 69,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, AP, and AFP
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