The World Health Organization (WHO) notified Ukrainian officials that it would be prudent to destroy dangerous pathogens in the country’s public health laboratories to avoid “any potential spills” that could lead to disease spreading among the Ukrainian population, the WHO told Reuters on Thursday.

A number of public health laboratories in Ukraine, as in many other nations, have been researching high-threat pathogens, including COVID-19, in an effort to learn how treat and prevent them, the wire service reported.

The flood of Russian troops into Ukraine and the Russian military’s blockades of many Ukrainian cities have increased risks of pathogens spreading if laboratories are damaged, biosecurity experts say, per Reuters.


Ukrainian labs have received support from the WHO, along with the U.S. and the European Union, according to the wire service.

The WHO said in an email to Reuters that it has promoted security practices in Ukrainian labs for several years in an effort to prevent the “accidental or deliberate release of pathogens.”

“As part of this work, WHO has strongly recommended to the Ministry of Health in Ukraine and other responsible bodies to destroy high-threat pathogens to prevent any potential spills,” wrote the WHO.

The WHO did not say when it had made this recommendation, according to Reuters.

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