The region, which has been running its own affairs with Russian political, economic and military support since declaring unilaterally independence in April 2014, has seen 5,578 confirmed virus deaths so far. Just about 10% of the population have received at least one dose of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine or its one-shot version, Sputnik Light.
The neighboring separatist region of Luhansk reported a similarly tense coronavirus situation, and its authorities shut down schools and imposed a strict lockdown starting Wednesday. The 1.4-million region has recorded a total of 1,708 virus deaths.
Ukraine's health authorities say they can't provide assistance to the eastern rebel regions because they don't have access there.
The separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine erupted after Moscow's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula following the ouster of the country's Russia-leaning president. The fighting has killed more than 14,000 and devastated the regions that once formed the country's industrial heartland.
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