Ukraine’s swine flu epidemic is spreading at an alarming rate. The number of deaths has risen to nearly 50.President Viktor Yushchenko made the announcement, having put the number of victims at 11 just 24 hours earlier. The latest figures suggest 150,000 are sick with H1N1. Schools, universities and playgroups have been closed for the next three weeks. Mass gatherings have also been banned. Panic buying of masks and flu remedies is sweeping the country according to local media reports. The government also announced an emergency package of 40 million euros to go towards anti-swine flu measures. One woman queuing for medicine said: “What can I say? There is no medicine in the chemists. How come nobody prepared for this epidemic? Children are sick. The elderly are sick. There are no masks, not even basic pills. People are queuing and waiting for supplies to come, but nobody knows if they will come or not.” The price of flu medicines rose by as much as 300 per cent in Ukraine during the previous bird flu outbreak.