Flu Epidemic Spreads Across Ukraine, Killing 86

November 5, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

A boy wears a mask in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Oct. 30, 2009.  (Yuriy Dyachyshyn/AFP/Getty Images)
A boy wears a mask in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Oct. 30, 2009. (Yuriy Dyachyshyn/AFP/Getty Images)
KYIV, Ukraine—A pneumonia believed to be similar to the H1N1 virus has killed 86 people in Ukraine as of Wednesday, according to the country’s Ministry of Health.

A World Health Organization team arrived in Ukraine on Monday to investigate the situation in the country and advise Ukrainian doctors. The total number of infected is thought to be up to 500,000.

Some medical experts say that vaccinations need to be provided to curtail the spread of the epidemic, while others are of the opinion that it is too late for that.

“In a situation where the disaster already exists, vaccination is impossible,” said Tatiana Bakhteyeva, head of the Health Committee of the Ukrainian Parliament, as reported by Ukrainian media.

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko announced last week plans to put all schools in nine regions under quarantine. President Viktor Yushchenko, also called on international organizations to provide the country with antivirus medication.

There are no more face masks available at pharmacies, so people are now making their own from gauze bandages. They have started eating garlic and onions, believing that this will boost resistance to infection.

Health Minister Vasyl Knyazevich called on politicians not to comment on the epidemic so as to not create panic among the population.

The virus mostly affected the western part of the country.