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West Ukrainians setting up barricades to block people evacuated from China

According to reports emerging, a few dozens people dug out ditches and laid concrete blocks and tyres to block the roadway to the village were evacuees were going to be taken for quarantine

KIEV, February 19. /TASS/. Demonstrators in west Ukraine’s Ternopol Region are barricading off roads leading to their communities to prevent people who will be evacuated from China amid the coronavirus outbreak from being taken to their local medical facilities on Thursday.

According to reports emerging, a few dozens people dug out ditches and laid concrete blocks and tyres to block the roadway to the village of Konoptovka in the Ternopol Region, warning that they will not allow evacuees to be taken to the Medobory local sanatorium for fear that the novel coronavirus will spread around and claiming that the medical facility cannot provide the necessary conditions for such patients, Segodnya media outlet writes. According to the protestors, residents of three communities have already boarded buses to Ternopol to meet with the local council leadership to discuss the situation. Medobory director Vasily Martynyuk says that the facility is on the list of possible quarantine destinations, adding that he will not clear the evacuated compatriots to enter the sanatorium if its staff and locals do not give their consent.

Meanwhile police officers are maintaining public order at the protest sites. "The situation is calm. There is a decision of the community, requesting that the evacuees are taken to a different place, public order is ensured," a police spokesperson reassured.

According to Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (parliament) member Pavel Bakunets, western Ukraine is gripped by panic in view of reports that authorities are planning to host evacuees from China in this region. "While the authorities are preoccupied with the security of Ukrainians in China, they are slightly losing sight of the security of Ukrainians here, inside their own state," 24 channel quotes the lawmaker as saying. "I mean the panic and uncertainty that the lack of proper communication between the government and their citizens gave rise to. Throughout the weekend and today, residents of the Yavorov District [Lvov Region] and other districts <…> have been panic-stricken because rumors circulate that people will be transported to local sanatoriums <…> for quarantine."

Lawmaker of the Obukhov City Council (Kiev Region) Vladimir Timchenko also voiced his frustration about the possible arrival of the evacuated people in his region as mass media outlets are suggesting. "We are concerned about our compatriots and recommend that the high leadership follow other states' suit. Such facilities should be located outside inhabited communities," he emphasized.

Evacuation from China

In the early hours on Wednesday, SkyUp airline’s Boeing 737-700 took off from Kiev and headed to China to evacuate Ukrainian citizens and a few foreign nationals from Wuhan (Hubei Province). The evacuation is set to begin on February 20. The same day, the flight from Wuhan will land at Kiev’s Borispol Airport at 08:05 local time after a stopover in Kazakhstan’s Almaty. The Ukrainian government announced that Ukrainian citizens will be placed under a 14-day monitoring after arrival from China, but there has been no official decision made where they will be quarantined.

A pneumonia outbreak caused by the COVID-19 virus (previously called 2019-nCoV) was reported in China’s city of Wuhan — a large trade and industrial center in central China populated by 12 million people — in late December. The WHO declared it a global emergency, describing the outbreak as an epidemic with multiple foci.

The virus spread to 24 more countries, apart from China: Australia, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, India, Italy, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam. Chinese authorities have confirmed 74,100 cases of the disease and more than 14,300 recoveries, while more than 2,000 people died from the novel coronavirus.