Ukraine's COVID-19 death toll could reach 4,000, health officials say

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective face mask amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) stands in front of a social poster in central Kyiv, Ukraine July 30, 2020. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich/File Photo

KYIV (Reuters) - Health officials in Ukraine, which has seen a spike in coronavirus cases this week, said on Saturday the outbreak could cause the nation’s death toll to reach 4,000, more than double the current fatalities, Interfax Ukraine news agency said.

Ukraine reported a record high 1,197 new coronavirus cases on July 29 and a record number of hospital admissions, with health authorities blaming the jump on wider use of public transport and attendance at church services.

Deputy Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said preventative measures were the only way to contain the spread of the virus.

Ukrainians still have to wear face masks and adhere to social distancing rules in restaurants and public places, although the government said last week that it will allow individual regions to ease restrictions if warranted.

On Saturday, the country reported 1,172 new coronavirus cases versus 1,090 a day earlier.

Ukraine has now has 71,056 cases of the virus since the start of the outbreak, including 1,709 deaths and 39,308 people who have recovered from COVID-19.

Lyashko said the total number of cases could reach 400,000 during the course of the epidemic.

Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Helen Popper