On Thursday, the country reported the highest number of one-day cases, according to Maksym Stepanov, the health minister. The ministry reported 2,134 cases in the past 24 hours, surpassing the record of 1,967 cases reported the previous day.
"We have a new anti-record almost every day," he told journalists in an online briefing. He reiterated the requirements for wearing masks in public places and social distancing. "We live in a new reality in which certain rules have to be followed," he said. As of Friday, Ukraine had reported at least 100,000 cases and 2,200 deaths.
According to Ukrainian medical experts, it was the easy compliance with the rules rather than the premature lifting of the restrictions to blame. Weddings and religious ceremonies in the west of the country have been the main driver of the recent surge in cases, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Monday. In response, the police are stepping up enforcement of the quarantine measures.
In part, the increase in reported cases has followed an increase in testing, said Svitlana Fedorova, director of the Mykolaiv Center, a scientific institution that studies infectious diseases, in a post on Facebook. The authorities said that around 20,000 people are being tested every day in Ukraine.
However, the faster spread in Ukraine is not solely due to rising test rates, said Kateryna Bulavinova of the United Nations Children's Fund in Ukraine in an interview. "People don't adhere to security measures, don't keep social distance," she said. Hospitals have not separated coronavirus and non-coronavirus patients, she said, making the healthcare system itself a source of infection. Because of this, she said, "Obviously the risk of infection is higher."
However, Ukraine still has far fewer cases per capita than neighboring Russia and Belarus. In Belarus, President Aleksandr Lukashenko denied the virus posed a threat for months and never fully caged the country to slow its spread. Participants in anti-government street protests in Belarus say the failed virus response is a cause of their discontent.