Ukraine extends COVID-19 restrictions until Dec 31

Medical personnel stand next to ambulances with COVID-19 patients as they wait in the queue at a hospital for people infected with coronavirus disease in Kyiv, Ukraine March 30, 2021. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Ukraine has extended a state of emergency that allows regional authorities to impose COVID-19 restrictions until the end of 2021 to tackle a surge in infections, the government said on Monday.

"Due to the worsening epidemic situation, the government at an extraordinary meeting decided to extend the adaptive quarantine until December 31, 2021," it said in a statement.

The state of emergency had been due to expire at the end of September.

The government said it would announce the so-called "yellow" epidemic level from Sept 22, which includes a request to limit the number of visitors to public venues and mass events, in addition to mandatory mask-wearing and distance keeping, although further restrictions would not apply to businesses and schools with fully vaccinated staff.

Over the past week, the number of confirmed new cases of COVID-19 has increased by 68 percent, and hospitalisations by 51 percent, the government said. It said "the pressure on the health care system is under control" as a third of intensive therapy beds had been occupied so far.

Ukraine has registered almost 2.4 million COVID-19 cases and 54,919 related deaths since the start of the pandemic while fewer than 5.2 million have received two shots of vaccines in the 41-million country.