Ukraine reports record daily coronavirus infections

A woman wearing a protective face mask looks at some jewellery in a shopping mall in central Kiev. GENYA SAVILOV / AFP

Ukraine registered a record 14,580 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, health minister Maksym Stepanov said on Saturday, surpassing the previous day's record of 14,575.

The total tally climbed to 612,665 cases, with 10,813 deaths, he added.

The daily infection tally began rising in September and has been consistently high ever since, spurring the government to impose a national lockdown at weekends to strengthen steps to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The lockdown means closing or restricting most businesses except essential services such as grocery shops, pharmacies, hospitals and transport.

Stepanov told Reuters on Wednesday that Ukraine faced a "very severe" period of COVID-19 cases but will not tighten lockdown restrictions because measures taken last week should stabilise the situation.

On Friday, the government had announced that it hoped to receive 8 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in the first half of next year.

Ukraine participates in the global COVAX Facility, which has been set up to provide COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries. Stepanov said Ukraine hoped to receive enough vaccine for up to 20% of its population.

"This is 8 million doses. By Dec. 7, we must sign all technical documents and expect that in the first half of 2021 we will already start receiving the vaccine," he said.

He said the first tranche could total 1.2 million doses and it would be used primarily for groups most at risk. He gave no further details.

Stepanov said Ukraine had also held talks with all possible vaccine manufacturers and suppliers and already issued budget funds for the purchases. 

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