Kyiv has detected its first cases of the highly transmissible Omicron strain of coronavirus, Deputy Head of the City Administration Mykola Povoroznyk said on Dec. 28.
The official called on Kyiv residents to adhere to the yellow zone restrictions in place, requiring proof of at least partial vaccination, negative test or recent recovery to attend restaurants and other venues.
Ukraine detected its first Omicron case on Dec. 18, but back then the government didn't specify where in the country it was detected.
The number of new cases of Covid-19 in Ukraine has been decreasing lately: it went from over 10,000 a day in early December to under 5,000 a day in late December.
Researchers are concerned about the Omicron strain's large number of mutations. One not yet peer-reviewed study by researchers in Hong Kong found that it infects the airways and multiplies there 70 times faster than the Delta variant. This can explain the speed of its global spread since its discovery in Botswana and South Africa in November. It has already become the dominant version of the coronavirus in the United States.
Though Omicron appears to be less susceptible to vaccines than the earlier variants, boosters can help build stronger defenses against the virus. Unvaccinated individuals are at the greatest risk of severe illness and death from the new variant, according to health experts.
Right now, booster shots of Moderna or Comirnaty/Pfizer mRNA are available to healthcare workers, orphanage employees and people at high risk from the virus in Ukraine.
Ukraine still hasn’t rolled out COVID-19 booster jabs yet. As of Dec. 28, the country has fully vaccinated over 13.4 million people or 35% of its general population.