Evacuation of citizens from Wuhan sparks panic protests
Residents in central Ukraine protest the arrival of a plane carrying evacuees from China’s Hubei province on Thursday, fearing they could be infected with the coronavirus despite authorities insisting there was no danger https://t.co/Tw2a2NWT5L pic.twitter.com/Vj5lzDvGnt— Reuters (@Reuters) February 20, 2020
Panic protests over COVID-19 fears
Between 19th and 20th February 2020, 48 Ukrainians and 29 foreigners were evacuated from Wuhan, China and returned to Ukraine following the outbreak of the COVID-19 corona virus. The evacuees would be quarantined in four undisclosed facilities in different cities across the country, a strategy that led to mass panic protests in several localities. Locals took to the streets to show their dissatisfaction with the return of the evacuees, fearing possible contamination with the new COVID-19 virus.
On 18th February 2020, almost 300 residents staged a protest in the Trebovlyansky district of the Ternopil region after rumours emerged that the evacuees would be quarantined in the sanatorium of Medobory which is located in the area. The following day, on 19th February 2020, a protest rally was held in the city of Vinniki in the Lviv region by local residents who feared that the evacuees would be placed in a military hospital in their locality.
The residents involved in the Ternopil and Lvivi protests expressed concern that local hospitals were not well equipped to receive their evacuated compatriots and that the doctors were not protected from infection.
On 20th February 2020, residents of Novy Sanzhar also took to the streets to protest against the government’s decision to quarantine the evacuees at the medical centre of the National Guard of Ukraine located in Novye Sanzhary. The village’s residents blocked one of the major roads as authorities deployed security personnel from the national guard to the scene. Media reports indicated that clashes occurred between the protesters and the police who arrived at the scene.
President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky however criticised the organisers of the protest, saying that their reaction showed "far from the best side of our character." He added that Ukraine had taken unprecedented security measures to prevent the entry of corona virus into the country.
TV Channel seeks European support
In February 2020, journalists from the only existing Crimean Tatar television channel – ATR, appealed to the European Parliament and the European Commission to support broadcasting by the channel. This request followed the channel’s inability to continue accessing funding previously made by the Ukranian authorities due to what they termed as artificial bureaucracies.
In their press release, the TV channel’s entire team appealed to the European Parliament and the European Commission to provide the channel with the financial support required to continue its operations, and to implement the provisions of the European Parliament’s 2016 Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in the annexed Crimea which condemned the illegal closure of the media, including the ATR television channel, which is widespread within the Crimean Tatar community. The channel was relocated to Kyiv in June 2015 where it was operating with financial support from the Ukraine state budget.