New coronavirus cases in Russian-occupied Crimea have nearly doubled in recent days as the Black Sea peninsula anticipates a tourist influx caused by flight restrictions to Turkey, health authorities said Wednesday.
After Russia introduced flight restrictions to Turkey from April 15-June 1, a large number of Russian tourists overwhelmed to occupied Crimea. While health officials attributed the flight closures to Turkey’s rising Covid-19 cases, several Russian lawmakers linked the steps to the Turkish president’s public support for Ukraine and Ukrainian sovereignty over Crimea.
Crimea's Kremlin-controlled sanitary official Natalia Penkova said Covid-19 cases have nearly doubled over the past two weeks. She noted that the number of imported cases has dramatically increased in the past week. Interfax-Russia news outlet reported that Crimea’s new daily coronavirus cases had dipped below 100 in mid-February but began climbing back up over the past three weeks.
Crimea, which Russia illegally seized from Ukraine in 2014, has confirmed over 50,000 coronavirus cases and more than 1,500 deaths, according to data published by the occupation authorities. Russia ranks among the world’s top Covid-19 caseloads and fatalities.
Human Rights organizations say that Russian authorities hide real number of the COVID-19 cases and do not reveal the accurate data.
So far, 92,000 Crimeans have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, with more than 800,000 left to reach the herd immunity threshold of 60% of the population.
Earlier, Member of Ukrainian Parliament Rustem Umerov said that Ukraine is deeply concerned that Russia is forcibly vaccinating Ukrainian citizens in Crimea with its unlicensed Sputnik V vaccine. He indicated difficulty to predict the health consequences of a forced vaccination policy for the residents of the temporarily occupied Crimea.