Coronavirus: Countries in the region prepare to ease restrictions

NEWS 30.04.2020 21:25
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Source: Sanjin Strukic/PIXSELL

With fourteen new Covid-19 infections confirmed in Croatia in the last 24 hours, the country continued with plans for easing out of the coronavirus restrictions imposed in mid-March, while neighbouring Serbia announced it would loosen the initial plan for imposing a three-day curfew for the upcoming May Day holiday after the idea was met with backlash.

In the last 24 hours, there have been 14 new infections with the novel coronavirus in Croatia, bringing the total number to 2,076. Two more people have died, a man aged 67 and a woman aged 82, both with underlying conditions, bringing the total coronavirus death toll in the country to 69, Croatia’s Covid-19 crisis management team said at a daily news conference on Thursday.

Since the outbreak reached the country in late February, 36,221 people have been tested, of whom 1,745 in the last 24 hours. Some 5.7 percent of all tests were positive.

Earlier this week, all shops except big shopping centres were reopened for the first time since the nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 19. Public transport began operating, and on May 4 hair and beauty salons will be allowed to reopen, but with strict protection measures in place. On May 11, schools will reopen for the youngest students, and inter-county travel will be allowed once again.

However, both the health authorities and the Prime Minister have warned that the measures can be imposed once again if the outbreak flares up.

Six more dead in Serbia, caseload passes 9,000

In the last 24 hours, six people, two men and four women, died in Serbia from Covid-19, increasing the total number of victims to 179 since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country on March 6.

The total caseload in the country now stands at 9,009 among 85,645 tested.

The situation in the capital of Belgrade slightly worsened compared to previous days, with 90 new cases since Wednesday. However, positive cases still account for less than five percent among all those tested in the city.

A three-day curfew for the May Day holidays was eased following opposition from medical workers. As compromise, curfew will be in force from 6pm on Thursday until 5am on Saturday, and from 6pm to 5am on Saturday and Sunday. Outdoor gatherings of more than two persons remain banned.

“The virus is weakening, but it is still here and we cannot relax. Avoiding contact remains an important measure and what happens next is up to us,” said immunologist Srdja Jankovic, a member of the government’s crisis management team.

Serbia imposed a 90-day curfew on March 15, and President Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday evening that the measure might be lifted between May 8 and 10.

Another spike in Bosnia’s Covid-19 cases, four more deaths

According to the state Civil Affairs Ministry, there are now 1,757 confirmed cases in the country, of which 727 have recovered and 69 died.

Bosnia’s health authorities recorded another spike in cases of Covid-19 for the second day in a row, with 80 new cases on Thursday, along with four more deaths. The oldest fatality was a 72-year-old woman, and the youngest a 48-year old man.

Over the past 24 hours, Bosnia’s Serb-majority part Republika Srpska (RS) recorded 53 new cases after testing 627 fresh samples.

According to the Bosniak-Croat shared Federation (FBiH) entity’s Crisis Staff, 1,030 samples have been tested in the past 24 hours for Covid-19, of which 27 came back positive.

According to Goran Cerkez from the crisis team, the fact that the easing of restrictions begins soon does not mean that measures and recommendations are no longer needed or applicable.

Bosnia declared national emergency in mid-March. This week, some businesses in the country were allowed to reopen, and the curfew in the Federation entity is expected to be lifted by May 11, Croatian Jutarnji List daily reported earlier.

“It’s important that we remain committed to the measures which the crisis team has proposed. I think that most citizens have respected all the measures so far and we won’t have any major problems in the coming period, but there are always some citizens that need to hear these things from time to time. Therefore, I urge everyone to remain cautious and I wish you a happy upcoming holiday (May Day),” Cerkez said.