European Western Balkans

Western Balkan countries continue to record spikes in COVID-19 cases, some measures reintroduced

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After reopening in late April and early May, the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic is getting worse in the Western Balkans. Governments in seem determined not to restore tough restrictions, even though the number of COVID-19 infections is on the rise once again.

The most affected country in the region is Serbia. According to official data, 289 new cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in the country, bringing the total number of infections to  16,420. Officially, 317 people have died, but this number is disputed.

Kosovo reimposes local lockdown measured as new coronavirus cases flared up

Government of Kosovo decided yesterday to reimpose lockdown in some cities as new coronavirus cases flared up significantly during the last week, Gazeta Express reported.

Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti announced on Sunday that in some cities new measures will enter in force due to the high infection rate. Those are the cities of Pristina, Prizren, Ferizaj, Vushtrri.

“Cities with a high number of coronavirus infections the movement will be restricted from 21:00 pm to 05:00 am,” Hoti said.

At the same time, bars and restaurants will not be allowed after 21:00 pm as only take away food will be functional after this time.

Albania’s COVID-19 deaths go up

Coronavirus-related deaths climbed higher, with two new victims who passed away at infectious diseases ward bringing the total number of deaths to 76, Albanian Daily News reported.

Health Ministry calls on all citizens to show caution because the cases in the infectious disease hospital are increasing every day and with all the recovered who have left the hospital in the last 24 hour.

On Sunday, Health Minister reported 74 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the state’s total past 2800.

Public Transport in Tirana has resumed its work this Monday after the suspension of work for than 4 months due to pandemic.

Borders of North Macedonia still open to Serbia and Kosovo

The Commission for Infectious Diseases had no discussion about closing the borders of North Macedonia with Kosovo and Serbia and it hasn’t issued a recommendation to the Government, said the interim Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski, Meta reported.

“This isn’t a political issue, and therefore the Government cannot make a decision such as this alone. We want to make a decision based on the opinion of experts. If such need arises, if there is a need of taking measures, then the Government will have a discussion. So far, the Government hasn’t made any decision and at the moment, the old decision is still in force i.e. the borders remain open”, said Spasovski.

The Ministry of Health of North Macedonia informed that in the last 24 hours, with 1.032 tests taken, 115 new cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed. There were 40 recoveries from the disease.

In the same period, seven patients succumbed to the disease. Five of them were citizens of the capital, Skopje, and one each from Tetovo and Kruševo.

Belgrade students protest; Minister: Dormitories remain open

Students in Belgrade launched a protest in at least two of the city’s dormitories after Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said that they would be closed because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The state RTS reported that Vučić met with student representatives during the night and agreed to allow the dorms to remain open but with special measures in place to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. During the protest march to the Serbian parliament, students denied the claim, saying they want an official confirmation. The main reason for opposition to the decision was that it had come in the middle of the exam period, which ends in early July. On the following day, Minister of Education confirmed that the students will be allowed to stay in the dormitories.

President Vučić also criticised the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, over its recent investigation into the number of COVID-19 victims in Serbia, saying the report used data that was not authentic.

BIRN claimed that the COVID-19 database, which it had insight into, shows that the number of people that had died until 1 June was almost three times higher than the publically available data showed.

Bosnia breaks its record in new daily coronavirus cases

With 289 new coronavirus cases reported across Bosnia since Friday – 99 of them in the capital alone – the country has on Saturday reached its new record in the number of newly confirmed infections within a 24-hour time period.

Of the 1,288 samples tested in Bosnia’s semi-autonomous Federation (FBiH) region, 186 came back positive, the FBiH Public Health Institute said.

Health authorities in the other semi-autonomous region, Republika Srpska, reported 103 new coronavirus cases.

Bosnia has seen a sudden spike in new coronavirus cases since mid-June and the total of people who tested positive for the virus in the country so far has surpassed 5,000.

Nearly 200 people have died due to COVID-19 in Bosnia and more than 2,500 have recovered.

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