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Ukrainians protest over having COVID-19 coronavirus evacuees in their region

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Ukrainian riot police detain a protester, who planned to stop buses carrying passengers evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, outside Novi Sarzhany, Ukraine.
Ukrainian riot police detain a protester, who planned to stop buses carrying passengers evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, outside Novi Sarzhany, Ukraine.   -   Copyright  Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.   -   Efrem Lukatsky
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At least ten people were injured on Thursday evening in Ukraine after protesters attacked a convoy of COVID-19 coronavirus evacuees from China.

Nine police officers and one protester were injured in clashes in the town of Novi Sanzhary in the central Poltava region.

Prime Minister Oleskiy Honcharuk said on Friday that although the protest is now under control, unrest may continue.

Protesters had gathered near Novi Sanzhary over fears the novel coronavirus could spread in the area after it was announced that 45 Ukrainians and 27 foreign nationals evacuated from Wuhan earlier in the day would be kept in isolation in a local sanatorium.

Several hundred local villagers put up roadblocks, burned tires and hurled stones at buses arriving with the evacuees.

This came despite assurances from the government that none of the evacuees presented symptoms of acute respiratory infections.

The sanatorium in which the evacuees are being quarantined for 14 days is guarded by hundreds of Ukrainian National Guard troops with local police patrolling the area.

Ukraine has no confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, which has killed more than 2,000 people and infected more than 76,000 in China and hundreds more in over 25 countries.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had earlier sought to allay fears, saying that "unprecedented" measures have been taken to prevent the spread of the virus across the country.

He had also called for people not to stage protests.

"Most of the passengers are people under 30. They are almost like children to many of us," Zelensky said.

"But there is another danger that I would like to mention. The danger of forgetting that we are all human and we are all Ukrainians," he said.

"Each of us. Including those who ended up in Wuhan during the epidemic."

Many Ukrainians took to social media to say that they were ashamed of their compatriots' behaviour.

The country's health ministry also revealed on Thursday that it was investigating fake emails about COVID-19 spreading in Ukraine which have been traced back to foreign servers.

Honcharuk told parliament on Friday that the protests were the results of an "information war", warning that "provocations may continue" in order to "create panic, undermine trust of the people, sow discord among us".