Disinformation about the deadly coronavirus have sparked protests and violence in Ukraine, with citizens of one village smashing the windows of a bus carrying healthy individuals who were evacuated from China’s Hubei province—considered to be the epicenter of the breakout. According to BuzzFeed News, an email claiming to be from Ukraine’s health ministry said there were five cases of coronavirus in the country. The email was sent to the Ministry of Health’s entire contact list and disseminated on the same day that a plane of evacuees landed in the country. The Security Service of Ukraine said the email originated from outside of the country, but that didn’t stop people from believing the lie. In reality, only two Ukrainians—passengers aboard a cruise ship docked in Japan—have been infected with coronavirus, and they are now healthy.
Villagers in Novi Sanzhary reportedly smashed the bus windows, fought with police, and tried to block the road leading to a health facility where the evacuees—including 45 Ukrainians—would be quarantined for two weeks. Other towns took preemptive measures, using cars and tires to block a hospital entrance and holding prayer gatherings to fend off coronavirus. In a Thursday statement, President Volodymyr Zelensky assured citizens that there was no risk of infection but the population was vulnerable to “the danger of forgetting that we are all human and we are all Ukrainians.” There have been over 2,000 deaths as a result of the coronavirus, and over 75,000 cases worldwide.