Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko has warned that a large number of people are getting severely sick and the capacity of hospitals is more than 80 percent full, as the Ukrainian capital implemented tough new restrictions to stem a surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths attributed to low vaccination rates.
"We are afraid that in a few weeks' time, we might not be able to help everyone who needs it," Klitschko on November 1 told Current Time, the Russian-language network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA.
Under the new restrictions, residents of Kyiv must present vaccine certificates or evidence of a negative COVID-19 test to enter restaurants, cafes, gyms, entertainment venues, and shopping malls. Staff working in those places must also be vaccinated.
People will only be allowed to use public transportation it if they have a negative coronavirus test or vaccination certificate.
Klitschko has come under criticism for violating people's rights with the restrictions, something he dismissed during the interview with Current Time.
"My advice to these people is to come to an intensive-care unit and see whether the constitutional rights of the people there are infringed upon," the mayor said.
"It is a place where people ask for only one thing: that the doctors help them survive in the fight against the coronavirus. No one there talks about any infringement of any constitutional rights."
Ukraine had registered almost 3 million infections and 68,027 deaths as of November 1, breaking records on both metrics in recent days amid a third wave of the pandemic.
The spike in infections prompted the closure of schools in high-infection areas of the country on October 22, including Kyiv.
Only 7.4 million people, or less than a fifth of the total population of around 41 million, have been fully vaccinated so far.
The government has made vaccinations against COVID-19 compulsory for some state employees, and the authorities hope the new requirements will speed up vaccination.