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The World Health Organization (WHO) said Sunday it is concerned the war in Ukraine could worsen the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is trying to do more to limit the spread of infectious diseases.

Cases in the region are down from the previous week, but there’s significant risk there will be more severe disease and death due to low vaccination rates in Ukraine, as well as among the more than two million who’ve fled the country to surrounding areas, regions also with low vaccination rates. Ukraine’s Covid-19 vaccination rate is around 34%, while neighboring Moldova’s is around 29%, according to Our World In Data.
There have been a total of 791,021 new cases of Covid-19 and 8,012 new deaths in Ukraine and in surrounding countries between March 3 and 9, a WHO situation report published Sunday said.
“Unfortunately, this virus will take opportunities to continue to spread,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, during a Wednesday news briefing. “We as an organization recognize that countries are in very different situations; they’re facing different challenges. There’s a lot of movement and refugees associated with this crisis.”
    Also on Wednesday, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program, said there will be a rise in Covid-19 in Ukraine, “without a doubt.” He attributed the predicted increase to lack of testing, halted vaccinations, and a stressed, war-weary population with already low vaccination rates.

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