Clashes, jeers and stone-pelting during coronavirus evacuation in Ukraine

Residents of a central Ukrainian town clashed with police, burned tires and hurled projectiles at a convoy of buses carrying evacuees from China's Hubei province, quarantined in case of the coronavirus, to a sanatorium.

Let's take a closer look at the grim incident.

Paranoia leads to protesting

Locals in Novi Sanzhary feared they could become infected by coronavirus despite the authorities repeatedly insisting there was no danger and a special appeal from President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for calm.


Protestors vs Police

Hundreds of helmeted police officers in vans and an armoured personnel carrier had been dispatched to keep order. Police were periodically shouted at with cries of "shame on you" as the town waited for the evacuees to arrive.


Clashes caused by coronavirus

Tempers flared after a tense day-long standoff in which protesters blocked a bridge leading to the sanatorium where the evacuees will be held in quarantine for at least two weeks to make sure they are not carrying the virus.


Country-wide panic

The Ukrainian authorities say all passengers on board had been screened twice for the virus before being allowed to fly, but that was not enough to quell the protesters.

In western Ukraine, there were smaller protests by residents fearing the evacuees could be housed there instead.


Sorry State

The protest had prompted the Ukrainian government to reassure citizens that there was no danger, that the authorities had done everything possible to make sure the virus would not spread to Ukraine.

But a weak healthcare system, corruption and mistrust of authority are widespread in Ukraine, matters which are exacerbated by a measles epidemic amid a reluctance by some to vaccinate themselves and their children.