Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy Shakhov, from the 17-member Dovira (Trust) group in parliament, said on March 18 that he tested positive for COVID-19.

The lawmaker is the first public figure in Ukraine to test positive.

Shakhov is one of just 14 people who tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Ukraine, among the lowest numbers in Europe. Ukraine has seen two deaths from the virus, and tested only a little more than 500 people.

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When Ukrainian media reported his disease on March 18, Shakhov initially denied he had the virus, calling it nonsense and saying he has a regular cold. But just two hours later, after the health ministry reported that an unnamed member of parliament was infected, Shakhov posted a Facebook video admitting he had COVID-19.

According to the health ministry, the lawmaker is quarantined at home in Kyiv Oblast and is getting treatment. In a Facebook video, Shakhov said that the first symptoms, including temperature, appeared on March 15. Shakhov says he called the doctors right away and stayed home.  He returned from a trip to western Europe, reportedly France, on March 11.

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The health ministry reported that Shakhov didn’t attend parliament since March 6. However, Shakhov and 11 other lawmakers attended the parliament’s ecology committee meeting on March 12. He also appeared on TV talk shows on March 12 and March 13.

After the news broke, the parliament’s website reported that the Shakhov’s spot is being disinfected while all people who contacted him will be tested for COVID-19.

Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, a lawmaker with the 20-member Golos (Voice) party, said that he would self-quarantine after crossing paths with Shakhov on TV shows on March 12-13. He said it was irresponsible of Shakhov to not self-isolate after returning from a trip abroad.

As of March 18, over 200,000 people worldwide have been tested positive for COVID-19 in 143 countries. Over 8,000 people have died.

Shakhov isn’t the first Ukrainian lawmaker who was tested for coronavirus. Oleg Voloshyn, a lawmaker from the 37-member Opposition Platform – For Life party, was quarantined on March 6, after meeting French lawmaker Jean Luc Reitzer in Strasburg, a week prior. Reitzer was hospitalized with COVID-19 after the meeting. Voloshyn tested negative.

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