The speaker of the Ukrainian parliament and other lawmakers will be tested for the novel coronavirus after one of their colleagues tested positive on March 18, local media has reported.
Authorities are trying to trace everyone who has been in contact with lawmaker Serhiy Shakhov of the Dovira (Faith) parliamentary group since he entered the legislature earlier in the week following a trip to an unspecified EU member state.
Shakhov appeared on Ukrainian television on March 12-13, according to deputy Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, and participated in a meeting of the parliament’s Environment Committee on March 13.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the infected lawmaker’s voter card was registered in parliament on March 17 and was used to vote, although Shakhov was absent.
“Unfortunately, his colleagues are guilty of multiple voting,” Zelenskiy said about the widespread phenomenon of multiple voting in parliament that is punishable by law.
Ukraine, which has confirmed 16 cases of the respiratory illness and two deaths in four regions and the capital city, Kyiv, closed its borders to foreigners for two weeks starting on March 16.
Authorities have also cancelled air, rail, and bus connections between cities and regions, and shut down the subway in all three cities where they operate, including Kyiv.
Amid worldwide travel restrictions, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said about 21,000 Ukrainian citizens had asked for assistance in returning home from abroad and that 57 flights were planned for their repatriation.
"Overall, the number of citizens planning to return to Ukraine is about 38,000," the ministry said, adding that more than 27,600 people had returned to Ukraine in the previous 24 hours.