Ukraine hospital catastrophically short of doctors
PIC: AFP

Coronavirus infections in Ukraine began surging in late summer, and the ripples are now hitting towns like Stebnyk in the western part of the country, where Dr Natalia Stetsik is watching the rising number of patients with alarm and anguish.

"It's incredibly difficult. We are catastrophically short of doctors," says Stetsik, the chief doctor at the only hospital in the town of 20,000 people. "It's very hard for a doctor to even see all the patients." The hospital is supposed to accommodate 100 patients, but it's already stretched to the limit, treating 106 patients infected with deadly coronavirus.

Early in the pandemic, Ukraine's ailing health care system struggled with the outbreak, and authorities introduced a tight lockdown in March to prevent hospitals from getting overwhelmed.

The number of cases slowed during the summer but began to rise again quickly, prompting the government at the end of August to close Ukraine's borders for a month. Despite that, the number of positive tests in the country reached a new peak of 4,661 a day in the first weekend of October.

Overall, confirmed COVID-19 infections in the country have nearly doubled in the past month, topping 234,000, and experts say all reported numbers in all countries understate the true toll of the virus.

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