Ukraine extends COVID restrictions until Oct. 1 as cases rise

Medical personnel of ambulances with COVID-19 patients wait in the queue at a hospital for people infected with coronavirus disease in Kyiv, Ukraine March 30, 2021. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

KYIV, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Ukraine has extended a state of emergency that allows regional authorities to impose COVID-19 restrictions for a further month until Oct. 1 to tackle a surge in infections from the rapidly spreading Delta variant, the prime minister said on Wednesday.

"Unfortunately, experts are beginning to register the first negative trends in terms of hospitalisation of those seriously ill, therefore the government is adopting a decree to extend the state of emergency and adaptive lockdown until Oct. 1," premier Denys Shmygal said during a televised weekly cabinet meeting.

The "adaptive lockdown" means regional authorities have the power to tighten or ease restrictions depending on the situation locally. The state of emergency had been due to expire at the end of August.

Ukraine's seven-day average daily number of new cases has risen above 1,000 since mid-July, after authorities lifted most restrictions and maintained only mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing requirements.

Ukraine, with a population of 41 million, has been among the most affected European countries, with around 2.3 million COVID-19 cases and 53,149 deaths as of Aug. 11, while only 2.5 million have been fully vaccinated so far.

Reporting by Natalia Zinets, editing by Andrei Khalip and Giles Elgood

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