Science

In Kiev, a new wave of Covid doubles cremations – Sciences et Avenir

Cremations in Kiev have doubled since the summer, as a result of the wave of the new coronavirus affecting Ukraine, a country whose population is poorly vaccinated, the only crematorium in the capital told AFP.

“In summer, we had about sixty procedures on average (per day). Today, it is 100 to 120,” said a spokesman for the crematorium, Andriï Yachtchenko.

In October, more than 2,800 cremations were carried out, including 600 for people who died from Covid-19, he said, against 1,400 in August.

AFP journalists saw two funeral processions in front of Kiev’s crematorium on Monday, an imposing concrete building with a monumental gate located in the historic Baikové cemetery near the city center.

View of the Kiev crematorium in the historic Baikové cemetery, where cremations have doubled, as a result of the new wave of Covid-19, on November 11, 2021 (AFP – Sergei SUPINSKY)

During each cremation, the building spewed thick gray smoke that engulfed part of the cemetery.

Mask on the face, relatives of the deceased distributed candles in front of the building, while white trucks brought new coffins, which were quickly taken inside.

Due to the contagion of the virus, religious services and open casket ceremonies inside the crematorium are prohibited for people who have died from Covid-19, Yachtchenko explained.

As a result of the large number of deaths, the crematorium has been open in recent weeks longer than usual, sometimes until midnight, he added.

With 442 deaths linked to the coronavirus registered in 24 hours, the former Soviet republic with a public health system in crisis was on Monday the second country in the world with the most new daily deaths, behind Russia (1,211).

An Orthodox priest officiates outside near a car at the Kiev crematorium, where cremations have doubled, as a result of a new wave of Covid-19, on November 11, 2021 (AFP - Sergei SUPINSKY)An Orthodox priest officiates outside near a car at the Kiev crematorium, where cremations have doubled, as a result of a new wave of Covid-19, on November 11, 2021 (AFP – Sergei SUPINSKY)

Ukraine has faced its worst wave of the new coronavirus for weeks, carried by the more contagious Delta variant and public distrust of vaccines.

Vaccination was accelerated in October under pressure from authorities who imposed restrictions on those not vaccinated, such as the obligation to show a health pass to access certain public places.

But to date, only 28% of Ukrainians have received two doses of the Covid vaccine, Health Minister Viktor Liachko said in a statement on Monday.

In total, the country of nearly 45 million people has recorded 3.2 million cases of this disease, including more than 77,000 deaths.

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