International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Croatia announces three-stage timetable for lifting Covid-19 restrictions

April 23, 2020

Croatian government announced a timetable for the easing of social distancing restrictions on Thursday, rolling out a three-stage plan in their regular meeting.

In the first stage, all stores will be allowed to re-open, starting on Monday, April 27, with the exception of shopping malls. Hospitality services like restaurants and bars will also be allowed to re-open, except where these "require close human contact."

Public transport will also start working, as well as libraries and museums, and sports practice for professional sportspeople would be allowed to take place.

The second stage, starting on May 4, involves re-opening of the full range of medical services to the public, as well as personal services such as hairdressers, beauticians, shoemakers, and so on, provided that they continue implementing protective measures.

In the third stage, which should start on May 11, the ban on public gatherings should be raised from five to a maximum of ten people. Shopping malls are expected to re-open that day, as well as kindergartens and elementary schools for children in grades from one to four, i.e. aged 7 to 11.

Also on May 11, domestic air transport would start, as well as inter-county road transport. National parks, and "some" restaurants with open-air seating would also be allowed to re-open. Hotel restaurants and bars would also re-open, but only for hotel guests.

Croatia had recorded its first confirmed case of the new coronavirus on February 25. As the numbers of cases grew, authorities started imposing restrictions on travel and public life in March.

These culminated in a complete ban on all non-essential stores, restaurants, and bars on March 19, and a ban on all inter-city travel on March 23, putting the country effectively in a lockdown.

By Wednesday afternoon, Croatia reported a total of 1,950 cases of Covid-19, including 48 deaths and 869 recoveries, and the daily increase in new cases has remained under 3 percent eight days in a row, since April 14.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a427976/Croatia-announces-three-stage-timetable-for-lifting-Covid-19-restrictions.html

Coronavirus UPDATE: Five more dead, 162 new cases

April 23, 2020

Five more people died of coronavirus-related ailments in the 24 hours up to 3:00 pm on Thursday, bringing the total to 139, the Serbian Health Care Ministry said in its daily bulletin.

It added that 2,688 people had been tested, 162 of who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus which causes the COVID-19 disease.

A total of 7,276 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Serbia to date out of a total of 51,324 people who have been tested to date.

The bulletin said that 3,477 patients have been hospitalized and added that 96 were on respirators. It said that 1,063 patients had recovered.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a592207/Coronavirus-UPDATE-Five-more-dead-162-new-cases.html

Vucic: Curfew in Serbia from 6 pm on Friday to 5 am on Monday

April 23, 2020

Over the next weekend, the curfew will most probably be extended from 6 pm on Friday to 5 am on Monday, Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic told the state RTS TV on Thursday.

"I assume the (59-hours) curfew will be in force over the weekend. Then we'll see what next depending on the pandemic situation and doctors' opinion," he said while visiting the 'Karaburma' military medical centre.

Vucic recalled that the experts said there should not be the relaxation of the measures for another two weeks.

"Many will be angry. But I listen to the doctors every day and they are in favour of at least two more weeks of the curfew, especially during the weekends. We now have better results because of the last two extended weekends," Vucic said.

He added Serbia was ready for a new wave of the pandemic if it happened, and said the country was preparing to produce everything needed for the eventual epidemic comeback.  

Earlier, the chief epidemiologist Predrag Kon said the lifting of the state emergency was under consideration, but that protective measures would remain in place.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a592099/Extended-curfew-in-Serbia-over-next-two-weekends.html

Serbia’s epidemiologist: State of emergency under consideration, measures remain

April 23, 2020

Predrag Kon, Serbia’s chief epidemiologist and a member of the Crisis Team, said on Thursday the abolishment of the state of emergency introduced on March 15 should be considered, but the measures would remain, the FoNet news agency reported.

Kon added that it should determine the right time after which it would be almost impossible for the virus to spread.

"We end the seventh week tomorrow… The lifting of the state of emergency is now under consideration, but (protective) measures will stay in place,” he told the pro-regime Pink TV.

Kon suggested that the curfew might be bi in place for May 1 holiday and the weekend after that, but added the decision had not been made yet.

He said there was no reason to lift the 24-hour curfew at that time, and that the decision would be made during the day.

Kon announced that 7,000 people in Serbia would be tested on immunity for coronavirus at the beginning of the summer, and 70,000 more in the second phase.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a592095/State-of-emergency-may-be-abolished-protective-measures-in-place.html

Fin Min: Serbia's pensioners to get € 100, others to call if they want it

April 23, 2020

Pensioners and those in need in Serbia will automatically receive 100 Euro as of May 15, while the other adult citizens will have to ask for the amount by phone, Finance Minister Sinisa Mali said late on Thursday, the Beta news agency reported.

President Aleksandar Vucic has recently announced that every adult citizen will get 100 Euro to help them cope with the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic once the infection eases.

However, Mali on Thursday announced the change of the decision, after, as he told the pro-regime Pink TV, many people said they did not want that money.

Some two million people in Serbia will receive 100 Euro to help them come with the coronavirus economic consequences, while other adult citizens will have to confirm they want it by phone or online.

 That's why, he added, they would have to confirm by phone if wanted to receive it.

After Vucic's announcement, a significant number of people saw it as a populist measure, as it was their own money from the budget, adding they would send it back.

They said such a vast amount could be used better.

Mali added that Serbia successfully fought at two frontlines – to preserve the economy and save human lives, and all that mostly thanks to President Vucic.

 "The Government will adopt the budget rebalance to include all economic measures and a decree about those 100 Euro. All of 1,7 million pensioners and some 200,000 of those who receive social aid will automatically receive that. The other adults will have to ask by phone if they want that money," Mali said, adding he had heard many did not want it.

Mali said Serbia brought measures to help the economy in 12 days during the pandemic with a package worth over five billion Euro, or half of the state budget.

"Only six countries in the world brought such measures – the US, China, France, Germany, Great Britain ... and Serbia," Mali said.

He added that Serbia successfully fought at two frontlines – to preserve the economy and save human lives, and all that mostly thanks to President Vucic.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a592423/Pensioners-in-Serbia-will-get-100-Euro-others-will-have-to-ask-for-that.html

Serbia's Vucic says doesn't know if elections will be held on June 28

April 23, 2020

Asked about the date of the next general and local elections, Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic replied: "I don't know, I cannot know," news agencies reported on Thursday.

 He added many journalists asked him about the elections on June 28, or Vidovdan, one of Serbia's religious holiday linked to the Battle for Kosovo in 1389.

"Some of those people (from the opposition parties) say that I'm postponing the vote because I'm afraid of the election fiasco, others claim I'm rushing with the ballot to profit from coronavirus pandemic. Common, people, agree (on what to say)," Vucic added during the visit to the military health facility in Belgarde's Karaburma suburb.

He denied the opposition's statements that Serbia refused help from the European Commission (EC), saying it did not offer aid, but favourable loans to countries with disturbed balance of payment. He added Serbia did not have that problem.

Vucic divided critics into three groups: those uninformed, those with bad intent and those courting to someone who could turn them against Serbia's state institutions.

 The opposition Party of Freedom and Justice condemned earlier in the day the decision by the authorities to reject hundreds of millions Euro from the EC, while accepted loans "from sheikhs" because the spending of that money was not under control unlike that from Europe.

Vucic divided such critics into three groups: those uninformed, those with bad intent and those courting to someone who could turn them against Serbia's state institutions.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a592147/Vucic-doesn-t-know-when-general-elections-will-be-held.html

EU supplies Serbia with oxygen therapy equipment for COVID-19 patients

April 23, 2020

The Serbian government said on Thursday that it had taken delivery of “100 oxygen concentrators as part of a European Union aid package” to help treat coronavirus patients.

A government press release said that the concentrators will be used for oxygen therapy to help reduce the mortality rate from hypoxemia in patients with COVID-19.

Minister for European Integration and National IPA Coordinator Jadranka Joksimovic said that the procurement of medical supplies is continuing in cooperation with the EU Delegation in Serbia and UNOPS.

EU Delegation chief Sem Fabrizi said that the concentrators arrived after shipments of makes and triage containers. He recalled that the aid to Serbia is part of a 15 million Euro EU-funded emergency response package.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a592383/EU-supplies-Serbia-with-oxygen-therapy-equipment-for-COVID-19-patients.html

EU-Western Balkans summit on May 6 via video link

April 23, 2020

The European Union – Western Balkans summit will be held on May 6 as planned but via video conference, EU Council President Charles Michel said on Thursday.

The summit was supposed to be the main event during Croatia’s EU presidency but was postponed for June when the coronavirus pandemic broke out.  

EU leaders decided at a Council meeting to hold the summit as initially planned but only for one day with heads of state and government taking part via video link. Michel said that the summit will be an opportunity to present EU priorities towards the Western Balkans after months of effort to adapt strategies and take decisions.  

The presentation of new expansion methodology is planned as the central event of the summit. The EU should draw up a framework for negotiations and exact dates for North Macedonia and Albania. Pre-accession negotiations with those two countries should be opened at the summit.  

The EU leaders said they want to confirm the region’s European perspective. An economic investment package will also be presented at the summit.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a592381/EU-Western-Balkans-summit-on-May-6-via-video-link.html

Kosovo President in hospital for surgery

April 23, 2020

President Hashim Thaci underwent surgery on Thursday at the Kosovo University Hospital’s Urology Clinic, a press release said.

Pristina media reported earlier this week that Thaci had kidney problems.

The press release said that the surgery was successful and that the president is being monitored by a medical team.

Thaci had check up at the Urology Clinic early on Monday and Tuesday. The press release did not specify the surgical intervention.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a592345/Kosovo-President-in-hospital-for-surgery.html

Epidemiologist says no more coronavirus hotspots in Serbia

April 23, 2020

Epidemiologist Predrag Kon said on Thursday that there are no coronavirus pandemic hotspots anywhere in Serbia.

He said the percentages of diseased had dropped, adding that he does not see where a new hotspot could break out. “That is why we say that the opening of the borders and traffic is a serious thing. There is talk of special immunity passports because we face the threat of people who are positive to the coronavirus coming into the country as we saw in China,” he said.  

Kon recalled that this is the seventh week of the pandemic. “We said 10 weeks and things will go on for two more after that because of sporadic cases,” said and added that the borders can be opened after a strategy is drawn up to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by people coming into the country.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a592337/Epidemiologist-says-no-more-coronavirus-hotspots-in-Serbia.html

Serbian Deputy PM says policy changes coming after pandemic

April 23, 2020

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Zorana Mihajlovic announced policy changes on Thursday, primarily in the fields of the environment, public health and security.

She said the changes are coming because of the coronavirus pandemic and expressed the hope that the country will come out of the health crisis wiser.  

“We have to turn to protecting the environment and realize that security is not just buying weapons but means the security of people, food and water. Security means health, public health which we will have to invest much more in than we have so far,” Mihajlovic told B92 TV.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a592267/Serbian-Deputy-PM-says-policy-changes-coming.html

Coronavirus in North Macedonia: 41 new cases, total infected 1,300

April 23, 2020

North Macedonia’s Health Ministry said on Thursday that out of 649 tested, 41 patients were positive on coronavirus, bringing the total of infected to 1,300 people, with 943 currently active, the FoNet news agency reported.

The Ministry added that 29 people recovered in the last 24 hours, four of whom were discharged from hospitals, while 25 were sent to home isolation, a local Sitel TV reported.

The total of recovered patients in the country so far is 301, while 56 died due to complications of the COVID-19.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a592189/Skopje-reports-41-new-cases-of-coronavirus.html

Slovenia says epidemic under control, reports 13 new cases of Covid-19

April 23, 2020

Slovenian epidemiologists said that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus is "under control," while daily case load increased by 13 on Thursday.

In the past 24 hours 1,268 tests have been conducted and the number of people infected with the disease has increased to a total of 1,366 since the outbreak began. The death toll still stands at 79, Slovenia's public health service NZJZ said on Thursday.

The number of patients treated in hospitals is declining by the day, the government said on Thursday. The number of people with serious symptoms in intensive care units is also falling, although at a slower rate.

There are currently 23 patients in intensive care units in hospitals across the country, after six people have recovered and released from intensive care over the past 24 hours. To date, there were more than 210 people full recoveries.

A total of 45,703 people have been tested in Slovenia for the virus until Thursday.

Serological tests, which check for antibodies and which indicate if a person has had Covid-19 in the past, are currently being conducted on a random sample of people from around the country, and should be completed by the end of the week.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a592185/Slovenia-declares-coronavirus-epidemic-under-control.html

Avdulah Hoti LDK’s candidate for Kosovo new Prime Minister

April 23, 2020

The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) decided to nominate its official Avdulah Hoti for the Prime Minister-designate, the FoNet news agency reported on Thursday.

Earlier on Thursday, President Hashim Thaci asked Mustafa to name his candidate after the majority of the Parliamentary parties opted to form a new cabinet without a new vote.

Only the outgoing Prime Minister Albin Kurti's Self-Determination movement was for the new ballot. It won the general elections last October, but could not form the government on its own.

LDK was a main Kurti's coalition partner but took part in a non-confidence vote in the Parliament which dismissed the cabinet last month.

Thaci asked Kurti on several occasions to nominate his successor, but Kurti failed to respond, saying his cabinet was busy with the coronavirus pandemic.

Later on Thursday, Mustafa told reports his party insisted that Hoti becomes the Prime Minister-Designate and form Kosovo’s new government without a new election.

Two days ago Mustafa said he might be Kosovo's next Prime Minister.

"After yesterday's meeting with Mustafa who said he secured the Parliamentary majority, Thaci wrote to him asking for the name of his candidate," koha.net cited a statement from the President's office.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a592181/LDK-s-Hoti-candidate-for-new-prime-minister-of-Kosovo.html

COVID-19 UPDATES: 45 new cases in Bosnia as of this morning, 1,413 in total

April 23, 2020

13:00 According to health officials in Bosnia's both entities, 45 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded over the past 24 hours. The Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) entity recorded 31 cases, while the Bosniak-Croat shared Federation (FBiH) entity recorded 14.

Alen Seranic, the RS Health Minister said they tested 512 samples over the past 24 hours, of which 31 came back positive, making the total number of cases in this entity rise to 661 since the beginning of the pandemic. Twenty patients have died so far, as a result of the disease, he added.

Of the 31 new cases, 17 are men and 14 are women, Seranic noted.

The minister also noted that seven health care professionals have been infected with the virus in this entity – three nurses and a doctor from the Banja Luka clinical centre, and one employee each in Gradiska and Bijeljina hospitals, as well as a medical technician from a private clinic in this entity.

When it comes to the Federation, health officials there tested 779 samples, of which 14 came back positive, the FBiH Health Ministry's Crisis Staff said on Thursday morning.

According to them, a total of 11,975 people were tested so far and 784 came back positive for Covid.19.

Currently, the FBiH has 583 active cases of Covid-19, 169 patients have recovered and 32 have died so far.

Looking at the gender structure of the patients with Covid-19, 54 percent are women and 46 percent are men.

Cantons with the most reported cases are: Herzegovina Neretva Canton (230), Sarajevo Canton (108), Zenica-Doboj Canton (107), West-Herzegovina Canton (83), Tuzla canton (81), Una-Sana Canton (76).

Bosnia's Civil Affairs Ministry said that Bosnia has confirmed a total of 1,413 cases of Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic in the country.

Meaning, the RS reported 661 cases, the FBiH reported 784 cases while the Brcko District reported 18 cases so far.

When it comes to the fatalities, there were 54 in total, 20 in the RS, 32 in FBiH and two in Brcko District.

The Civil Affairs Ministry's data are reflecting the information gathered by noon, on Thursday.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a592169/Bosnia-reports-45-new-coronavirus-cases.html

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