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Riots break out in Ukraine over coronavirus fears

Riots have broken out across Ukraine over the coronavirus despite there being no confirmed cases in the country due to a single fake email that was widely shared.

Riots have broken out in a sleepy Ukrainian town over the coronavirus despite there being no confirmed cases in the country.

A fake email claiming to be from Ukraine’s health ministry said there were five cases of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country, on the same day a plane carrying evacuees from China arrived, according to Buzzfeed News.

Protesters responded by throwing rocks at the windows of buses carrying evacuees through the town of Novi Sanzhary, in Ukraine’s Poltava region.

They took to burning tyres, clashing with hundreds of riot police and setting fire to makeshift barricades, despite President Volodymyr Zelensky reassuring the country had everything under control.

“Attention! The reports about five confirmed cases of COVID-19 coronavirus in Ukraine are UNTRUE,” the Center for Public Health said in a statement.

“We urge the media not to disseminate this information and to inform the press service of the Health Ministry of Ukraine of the sender of this information upon receipt of the letter.”

Riots break out in Ukraine over coronavirus fears

Buses carrying evacuees from coronavirus-hit China arrived at a medical facility in Ukraine overnight. (Photo by STR / AFP)Source:AFP

The email mirrored a fake warning that circulated through Sydney last month urging people to stay away from certain food products and suburbs.

It came as Ukraine made efforts to quarantine more than 70 people evacuated from China over the virus outbreak.

It took several hours longer than scheduled for the vehicles finally reached their destination due to disruptions from protesters.

Ukrainian authorities said the passengers had been screened twice for the coronavirus before being allowed to fly, but furious protesters were still opposed to their presence.

Nine police and one civilian were hospitalised, regional police said in a statement. More than 10 protesters were arrested.

“People are unhappy that our town is receiving these people,” local resident Serhiy Oliynyk told Zik television station. “Coronavirus is one of the most dangerous diseases that exist.”

A man gestures to riot police officers as local residents protest the arrival of evacuees from coronavirus-hit China for quarantine at a medical facility in the settlement of Novi Sanzhary on February 20, 2020. (Photo by STR / AFP)Source:AFP

There are now 75,773 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, including 74,576 in China.

China’s National Health Commission announced 394 new cases on Thursday, marking a significant drop from Wednesday’s total of 1749.

But the country has changed its method for counting cases, saying only confirmed laboratory tests will be included, fuelling doubts about the true trajectory of the epidemic.

Previously, Chinese authorities included “clinically diagnosed” cases from Hubei province in the national tally – a method which saw a surge of over 14,000 new recorded infections, mostly inside the province.

The gradual decline in the number of new infections has raised hopes that the situation will begin to stabilise in the mainland.

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