Ukraine registered its first case of COVID-19 in early March 2020. The sample had been sent to a laboratory in Kyiv from a city in the Chernivtsi region, roughly 500 km from the Ukrainian capital. “At that time, it was only possible to analyze a SARS-CoV-2 sample at our laboratory. On the evening of March 2, 2020, we confirmed a positive case from Chernivtsi region. We immediately informed the World Health Organization,” said Iryna Demchyshyna, who is the head of the virology laboratory at the State Institution ‘Public Health Center’ in Kyiv.
Ten days later, the Government of Ukraine would impose a national quarantine in an attempt to contain the pandemic. As the number of cases rose across Ukraine, the country’s healthcare system confronted significant shortages of essential supplies, such as masks, respirators, rapid tests, hospital beds, and medical oxygen.
In the face of this unfolding crisis, the World Bank was ready and able to help Ukraine. Through a fast-track process, the institution rapidly restructured and reallocated existing projects to meet Ukraine’s urgent need in responding to this unprecedented health emergency. In early April 2020, Ukraine received $22 million through the restructured Serving People, Improving Health (SPIH) Project . This was supplemented that same month with additional financing of $135 million in order to support critical hospital upgrades and reforms as well as provide much-needed training to thousands of Ukrainian doctors.