“Unfortunately, this virus will seize opportunities to spread further,” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, said at a press conference on Wednesday. “We as an organization recognize that countries are in very different situations; they face different challenges. There is a lot of movement and refugees associated with this crisis.”
Also on Wednesday, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, that there will be “without a doubt” an increase in Covid-19 in Ukraine. He attributed the predicted increase to lack of testing, discontinued vaccinations and a stressed, war-weary population with already low vaccination rates.
Ryan added that the world should avoid stereotypes surrounding refugees and illness.
“Let’s be very careful with our rhetoric, because this always happens,” he said, “that people fleeing the horrors of war will somehow take stuff with them to deal with that, and Ukrainian refugees will not change that.”
Sunday’s report said WHO has bought drugs for Covid-19 and is recommending vaccination campaigns and strengthened surveillance for Covid-19 and other infectious diseases.
Hungary is providing Ukrainian refugees with free Covid-19 vaccines, and the WHO has also offered laboratory support, including Covid-19 testing.
The Romanian Ministry of Health has sent medical teams to test and give Covid-19 vaccines to Ukrainians who have fled their country.
Covid-19 treatment is offered for free in Slovakia. Covid-19 vaccinations are also free in Moldova for Ukrainians, which includes the Ministry of Health Testing and Covid-19 monitoring.
In a joint statement with UNICEF and UNFPA, the WHO called for an end to attacks on Ukraine’s healthcare systems. There were 31 verified attacks on healthcare facilities on Sunday, with more suspicions.
“Humanitarian partners and health professionals must be able to safely maintain and strengthen essential health services, including immunization against Covid-19 and polio, and the supply of life-saving medicines for civilians across Ukraine and for refugees crossing into neighboring countries,” the statement said. WHO statement. “Health services should be systematically available at border crossings, including rapid care and referral processes for children and pregnant women.”