Quarantine measures imposed by the Ukrainian government to curb the spread of COVID-19 have been a success, but the danger is not yet over, Deputy Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said on April 21.

Without the restrictions on movement and commerce, more than 180,000 Ukrainians could have become infected with the novel coronavirus, Lyashko said during an interview with the 1+1 TV channel.

However, the deputy health minister expects that the number of COVID-19 cases will spike in Ukraine by the end of this week due to mass quarantine violations during the Easter holiday.

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Almost 130,000 Ukrainians visited churches for Orthodox Easter on April 18-19, according to the National Police. This is significantly less than last year, when 7 million people converged on churches to celebrate the holiday.

The COVID-19 spike will occur if people infected with coronavirus were among the worshippers and if the churches did not follow restrictions on the number of people allowed in the building at once, Lyashko said.

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According to Lyashko, on average, one infected person infects two others.

“We see how many priests and monks have contracted the disease in enclosed spaces, so there will certainly be a surge,” he said.

Over 90 people have contracted COVID-19 at the Kyiv Perchersk Lavra, a monastery of the Moscow Patriarchate in the Ukrainian capital.

The Health Ministry expects that cases of COVID-19 will increase by the end of this week, five to seven days after the Easter holidays.

To prepare for a possible surge of infections in Ukrainian oblasts with the largest number of church visitors during Easter services, the ministry will allocate more resources to certain hospitals and close some towns for entry and exit, Lyashko said.

Starting from April 21, local authorities have closed the town of Pochayiv in Ternopil Oblast, where the Holy Dormition Pochayiv Lavra monastery is located, Vyacheslav Onyshkevych, deputy head of the district where the town is located, announced on April 21.

The town has confirmed 13 COVID-19 cases as of April 20, and numerous people failed to abide by the quarantine rules during Easter services. Some of them did not wear masks and failed to maintain safe social distance, Onyshkevych said.

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Over Easter, Ukraine’s National Police detected 19 violations of quarantine rules during church services in 12 oblasts and Kyiv.

Altogether, 13,658 churches across Ukraine held Easter services on April 18-19. Many services were televised or took place with only the clergy present.

However, leaders of the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, metropolitans Onufriy and Antoniy, encouraged Ukrainians to attend the services.

That recommendation came after Onufriy was reportedly hospitalized due to the coronavirus and Antoniy tested positive for COVID-19 on April 18.

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