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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

WHO Sees No Outbreak Of Swine Flu in Ukraine

ReutersTymoshenko holding a pack of drug Tamiflu at the Kiev airport on Monday.

KIEV — The World Health Organization said Monday that there was no evidence that Ukraine had a bad outbreak of swine flu, even as the country closed schools and suggested that nightclubs, cinemas and food markets in the west also shut down.

The WHO said it had sent a health team to help the country cope at the government’s request.

“But this is not an indication that the situation is severe,” said WHO spokeswoman Liuba Negru. “The information we have gotten [from the government], we have to double-check it and make sure it is real, evidence-based information.”

The Health Ministry said Monday that 70 people have died of flu but did not say how many of those deaths were related to swine flu. Still, all schools have been closed for a week across Ukraine, even Kiev, where there have been no confirmed cases of swine flu.

All outdoor markets have been closed in the western region of Lviv, where the governor also urged cinemas, cafes, nightclubs and theaters to shut down until further notice.

Some observers, including the speaker of the parliament, Vladimir Litvin, suggested that these measures are the result of political wrangling ahead of the country’s presidential election in January. “We are seeing a political competition to see who will be the first to lead this process [of fighting swine flu],” Litvin said.

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko met a Swiss shipment of anti-viral drugs at the Kiev airport on Monday. “The government has declared the situation an epidemic, but there is absolutely no need to panic,” she said on national TV.

After receiving the shipment of 300,000 doses of Tamiflu, she said her government plans to increase its hoard of the drug by another 300,000 to 950,000 doses.

Tymoshenko has the most to lose from public sentiment over the outbreak, as state health officials answer to her, political analyst Konstantin Bondarenko said. “Right now all the candidates are weighing their political options, looking around for a theme, and this is a very hot topic right now. The panic is there, and they are acting on it,” Bondarenko said.