December 11, 2020

Dec. 19, 1995


Twenty-five years ago, on December 19, 1995, Ukraine’s Ministry of Health reported that more than 1 million of Ukraine’s residents have come down with the flu, with the virus reaching epidemic proportions in the cities of Kyiv, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Zaporizhia, Dnirpopetrovsk and Symferopil.

Sixty percent of flu cases in Ukraine were reported among school children, which prompted the Ministry of Health to request that schools start Christmas breaks 10 days early.  The break was originally scheduled to start on December 29 and end on January 10.

Schools in Kyiv, Kherson, Khmelntysky and Donetsk had closed their doors on December 20. Experts said the spike in flu cases was expected to peak on January 1, and more than 15 percent of Ukraine’s 52 million people could have potentially become ill from the flu. Two children from Donetsk and Cherkasy oblasts had died from the flu, Kiyevski Vedomosti reported.

Health officials recommended that those who do contract the flu should get plenty of rest, take aspirin and drink plenty of fluids, especially hot drinks with guilder rose, cranberry or raspberry.

The World Health Organization also reported that the flu had impacted Western Europe, including Switzerland, Portugal and France. Earlier in December, the flu had swept across Moscow, with 338,000 people (among them 200,000 children) contracting the virus. Schools were closed and a quarantine was declared in hospitals and clinics.

In the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the WHO reports that, as of December 2020, there are 832,758 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ukraine and 13,928 deaths associated with the virus.  The measures taken to combat Covid-19 have been similar to those taken in 1995: school closures, distance-learning schedules and restrictions on public gatherings and indoor dining have been imposed (in Ukraine, Canada and the U.S.) to mitigate the spread of the virus, and it is recommended that people wear face coverings and follow social distancing guidelines.

Source: “Flu fells 1 million in Ukraine,” by Marta Kolomayets, The Ukrainian Weekly, December 24, 1995.