Ukraine reported a record high 1,197 new coronavirus cases on July 29 and a record number of hospital admissions, with health authorities blaming the jump on wider use of public transport and attendance of church services.
The number of new daily infections in Ukraine has increased sharply in the past two months as some restrictions to contain the spread of the virus, imposed in March, have been eased including allowing cafes, churches and public transport to reopen, although a nationwide lockdown remains in place and was extended last week until the end of August.
Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said on Thursday that 248 people with COVID-19 had been admitted to hospital over the past day.
"The main reason for the increase in the number of patients in western Ukraine, especially in the villages, is church services. Such results were shown by epidemiological investigations," Stepanov was quoted as saying in a statement released by the press service of Ukraine's president.
The second biggest factor was public transport, as well as the movement of people during the holiday season, he said.
Ukraine has now reported 68,794 cases of the virus since the start of the outbreak, including 1,673 deaths and 38,154 people who have recovered from COVID-19.
People must still wear face masks and adhere to social distancing rules in restaurants and public places, although the government said last week that it will allow individual regions to ease restrictions if warranted.