Albanian Language Media:
- 13 confirmed coronavirus cases in Kosovo (media)
- Health Institute: Please stay at home (media)
- Pristina Airport with additional explanations (media)
- The infected with CoronaVirus, in a stable condition (RFE, RTK)
- US Embassy in Pristina cancels visa appointments (media)
- Haradinaj: Government unprepared in case of escalation of situation (RTK)
- Mayor: Dumnica village in quarantine (Express)
- Podujeva’s zone with first COVID-19 case disinfected, three villages quarantined (RFE, RTK)
- Kurti nominates government Spokesperson (gazetaexpress)
- The U.S. reaction on Kurti’s decision to postpone lifting of the tariff (gazetaexpress)
Serbian Language Media:
- Government of Serbia: Measures introduced during a state of emergency (media)
- Vucic urged citizens: Respect state’s recommendations, we have to win this battle (media)
- Mitrovica North: There is enough food and medications, no case of coronavirus registered (TV Most, Kosovo-online)
- Seven new cases, 55 in total (B92)
- “Don’t make us impose a curfew” (B92, Prva TV)
- Trial in Oliver Ivanovic’s murder case postponed until further notice (B92, Kosovo-online)
- Vucic-Merkel video-conference postponed (Tanjug)
- Montenegro closes borders over coronavirus pandemic (BETA, N1)
- Coronavirus: The Pandemic Stress Test (Balkan Insight)
- Preventing panic (Prishtina Insight)
- Tight-Lipped Balkan Governments Scramble to Defend Against COVID-19 (Balkan Insight)
- Serbia Imposes State of Emergency, Pleads for China’s Help (Balkan Insight)
- Albania Adopts Punitive Fines for Breaching Coronavirus Restrictions (Balkan Insight)
- Coronavirus: Live Updates (Balkan Insight)
- HIV: prejudice that endures (Prishtina Insight)
Albanian Language Media
13 confirmed coronavirus cases in Kosovo (media)
Kosovo’s Minister of Health, Arben Vitija, confirmed this morning that the number of coronavirus cases has now reached 13. The four new cases are from the village of Stublla, the municipality of Viti.
“Late last night, based on the results of the tests, four additional cases resulted positive with COVID-19 . All four cases are from village Subell of Vitia, close relatives to the diagnosed positive with COVID-19, on 13.03.2020. The entire family was self-quarantined and National Public Health Institute has tested the other family members as well,” Vitia wrote. The Minister called for increased caution.
“In this situation, your awareness and help is indispensable. Keep distance from the other. Reduce exits only in emergencies. Follow the recommendations from the Ministry of Health and the National Institute of Public Health,” Vitia wrote.
In less than four days, the number of the affected from the virus has reached 13. The affected zones are Vitia with seven patients, Malisheva with four, Podujeva with one patient and Klina with one as well.
Health Institute: Please stay at home! (media)
All news websites report that the Kosovo National Institute for Public Health has called on the citizens of Kosovo to stay at home.
The Institute also called on Kosovo nationals that have already travelled back to Kosovo to stay in self-isolation for 14 days. It also called on Kosovars in the diaspora to postpone plans for visiting Kosovo.
Pristina Airport with additional explanations (media)
A spokeswoman for Pristina International Airport said they ask all travellers to contact their airline companies for any information they may need. Valentina Gara said the ban on incoming flights with passengers enters into force tonight at midnight.
“After this period there will be incoming flights without passengers and outgoing flights with passengers,” Gara said.
The infected with CoronaVirus, in a stable condition (RFE, RTK)
Four additional cases of infected with COVID-19 registered on Monday, increasing the number of the infected in Kosovo to 13.
Infectious disease physician Valbon Krasniqi, said that the health condition of the affected is stable. According to him, only one person with the new coronavirus, aged 77, occasionally needs oxygen, Radio Free Europe reports.
“Despite the fact that one affected by COVID-19 needs oxygen, his health situation is currently stable. The other 12 affected by the new coronavirus are in a good health condition, they are being treated at the Infectious Disease Clinic,” Krasniqi said.
After the spread of the new coronavirus on 13 March, the government of Kosovo decided to isolate municipalities of Vitia and Klina, while on 15 March, Malisheva municipality was also quarantined.
US Embassy in Pristina cancels visa appointments (media)
Several news websites report that the United States Embassy in Pristina has cancelled visa appointments.
“As of 14 March, the U.S. Embassy Pristina, Kosovo is cancelling routine Immigrant and Nonimmigrant visa appointments. At this time your visa appointment is cancelled. We will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time. The MRV fee is valid and may be used for a visa application in the country where it was purchased within one year of the date of payment. If you have an urgent matter and need to travel immediately, please follow the guidance provided at Official U.S. Department of State Visa Appointment Service to request an emergency appointment. https://xk.usembassy.gov/visas/,” a media statement issued by the embassy notes.
Haradinaj: Government unprepared in case of escalation of situation (RTK)
Former Prime Minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj stated that the government has not yet made the necessary preparations in case of escalation of the situation in Kosovo.
“The situation with COVIC-19 is at an alarming point. The Government has not yet made the necessary preparations if the situation escalates.
The Innovation Training Park in Prizren should immediately be prepared as a reserve center for a quarantine and medical training, serving with an operation plan which was applied in the case of the earthquake in Albania, sheltering the affected.
Kosovo should design its virus prevention and protection plan and not copy plans which are not compatible with our capacities and specifics,” Haradinaj wrote.
Mayor: Dumnica village in quarantine (Express)
Acting Podujevo Mayor Nexhmi Rudari told the news website today that the village of Dumnica has been placed in quarantine.
“Since last evening, following a government order, the village of Dumnica has been placed in quarantine after a coronavirus case was confirmed there,” Rudari said.
Podujeva’s zone with first COVID-19 case disinfected, three villages quarantined (RFE, RTK)
Podujeva’s municipal authorities disinfected village Dumnice e Poshtme, where the first case of COVID-19 was registered.
Acting municipal mayor Nexhmi Rudari told RFE that all measures to help the people of this village have been undertaken.
“As soon as we received the information that a citizen was diagnosed with this virus, we called the headquarters and immediately undertook the measures. We have sent a medical team and a police team, and also a team from the disinfection company, which disinfected the neighbourhood, and houses of the relatives of the affected person with CoronaVirus,” Rudari said.
“The medical team commenced medical examinations and instructed the residents and relatives of the affected by the virus on how they should behave, what they should do if they notice symptoms, whom to address… Then the government decided at around midnight, to quarantine villages Dumnice e Poshtme, Dumnice e Eperme and Llaushe,” he said.
Podujeva municipality has so far only one case that resulted positive on CoronaVirus test. The infected is a 62 year old male, and according to the National Public Health Institute, he traveled directly from Italy on 5 March 2020, via “Adem Jashari” International Airport.
Kurti nominates government Spokesperson (gazetaexpress)
The Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti nominated today Perparim Kryeziu as spokesperson of the government of Kosovo. The news was confirmed through a press release.
“Perparim Kryeziu is a highly respected graduate of the New University of Lisbon (Universidade NOVA de Lisboa), where he studied Economics and Organization Sociology. He was a Fellow of the SIGMA Agile program. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Sociology at the University of Pristina “Hasan Prishtina”, from which he completed his final year at the University of Antwerp (University of Antwerp) in Belgium, being a recipient of the JoinEU-SEE Scholarship. Both of these scholarships are funded by the European Commission. Parparim Kryeziu has also been a pioneering scholar of the YES (Youth Exchange and Study) exchange program funded by the U.S. State Department, through which he attended one year of high school in Vermont, United States. For nearly three years he has been a member of civil society. In the last two years he has been an active participant in public discussions on the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue through written work and analysis and contribution to television debates, ” reads the statement.
The U.S. reaction on Kurti’s decision to postpone lifting of the tariff (gazetaexpress)
The Democratic League of Kosovo is not the only one to remain dissatisfied with the decision not to lift the tariff on Serbian goods over the weekend, as Prime Minister Albin Kurti had announced. Such a request has been reiterated today in a response to Gazeta Express by the Office of the U.S. Presidential Envoy for Dialogue, Richard Grenell.
“The U.S. position to completely lift the tariffs remains,” was stated from Grenell’s Office. They however did not want to give details about sanctions that Kosovo could face if this does not happen, reports the news portal.
It has already been announced that MCC funds have been blocked until the tax is lifted. Even senior US officials have spoken about the possibility of US troops withdrawing from Kosovo.
In a response to Gazeta Express, the EU also stated that the tariffs should be lifted completely in order to open the way to dialogue.
“Our position on customs tariffs is clear: Tariffs have to go. The Prime Minister’s announcement on February 27th was an important first step in the right direction. As mentioned by the Prime Minister, we expect this to become a concrete reality as of March 15 ”, say from the European Union.
Serbian Language Media
Government of Serbia: Measures introduced during a state of emergency (media)
The Government of Serbia has adopted a decree prescribing measures to be applied during an emergency state, B92 reports. Closing the borders of Serbia, except for Serbian citizens, is crucial, as is the closure of schools, kindergartens and colleges, it was noted. President of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister, Ana Brnabic, and President of the Serbian Parliament, Maja Gojkovic, on Sunday, March 15th, adopted, in accordance with the Constitution, a Decision on the State of Emergency. The decision came into force last night.
The measures prescribed by the government
As of Monday, March 16, the work of pre-school, school and higher education institutions will be completely suspended. As of now, kindergartens, primary and secondary schools and universities in the Republic of Serbia will not operate. Enrollment of children is done normally through e-Government:
1) eKindergarten available for the whole of Serbia,
2) eSchool enrollment will be active from April 1st
3) Test for small graduation will be done through new technology
4) Classes move to distance learning via RTS3, the RTS Planet platform, as well as online learning platforms.
The borders of the Republic of Serbia are closed to all foreign nationals, with the exception of diplomats accredited in Serbia and foreigners with a residence permit. Citizens of the Republic of Serbia, as well as accredited diplomats and foreign nationals residing in the Republic of Serbia, who enter the Republic of Serbia, are obliged to be in self-isolation for at least 14 days, under criminal responsibility. This measure will be strictly controlled and its violation will be most severely sanctioned. Citizens will be provided with a legally binding solution upon entering the country. Imprisonment for violation of this provision is up to three years in prison. This is very important to reduce the movement of citizens, which is one of the main reasons for introducing a state of emergency in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
For citizens of the Republic of Serbia and foreign nationals residing in the Republic of Serbia who come from the Swiss Confederation, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Romania, the Kingdom of Spain, the Federal Republic of Germany, the French Republic, the Republic of Austria, the Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Greece isolation lasts for 28 days.
The introduction of a state of emergency does not mean that work in the economy, private and public sectors ceases. It is recommended that employers organize the work process so that everyone who can do it from home can stay at home. If it is not possible to work from home, the work process should be organized in such a way that all hygiene and technical measures to prevent the spread of infection (strictly limited number of people in the room, use of protective masks, etc.) are strictly observed. The Government calls on all employers in the Republic of Serbia to make all their employees work from home as much as possible. It is very important that we show solidarity at this point and therefore urge employers to behave responsibly and have the necessary understanding for their employees. This is especially true of citizens whose children cease going to kindergartens and schools. All other details will be specified in the supplementary acts to be adopted.
Citizens: self-isolation – no gathering, no visits, no leaving the house without urgent need. Exceptions: when going to shops and pharmacies, for walking pets, throwing trash. Recommendation for persons over 70 years of age not to go out at all, and for them, all the necessary activities should be performed by younger family members.
Public traffic: Cancellation of night traffic and reduction of daily public transport.
Inspections: Limit prices for essential food and safety equipment. Strict penalties for raising prices in times of emergency. It is possible to raise prices only within the limits of the annual inflation rate.
Once again, we appeal to our oldest fellow citizens to strictly take care not to leave the house and to follow all instructions for the sake of preserving their own health and that of their loved ones. The Government of the Republic of Serbia is fully committed to combating the spread of the COVID-19 virus, monitoring minute by minute developments in the country, region and world, and will keep you informed on a timely basis and take all necessary decisions to preserve your health.
See at: https://bit.ly/3a0lbek
Vucic urged citizens: Respect state’s recommendations, we have to win this battle (media)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has once again, through Instagram, urged all citizens, especially the elderly, to follow the state’s recommendations regarding the coronavirus, B92 reports.
“I ask the citizens to follow the instructions and recommendations of the state, especially our seniors to stay in their homes,” Vucic said on his “avucic” account on Instagram.
“We have to win, and we can do that only if we are united”, Vucic added.
See at: https://bit.ly/2ISrB2W
Mitrovica North: There is enough food and medications, no case of coronavirus registered (TV Most, Kosovo-online)
There is enough food and medications in the north of Kosovo, there is no need to stock supplies and no one in the north would remain without basic life necessities, Mitrovica North Crisis Headquarters said during the meeting today, TV Most reports. It was also noted that no case of coronavirus has been registered in the north of Kosovo.
Mitrovica North Clinical Health Centre Director, Milan Ivanovic confirmed to TV Most that no case of coronavirus has been registered in the north of Kosovo. He also said that the Clinical Centre has sufficient quantities of necessary medications.
Meanwhile, the Health House in Zvecan said it has established mobile teams of health workers, who will examine patients in their homes, if needed, in order to reduce the number of visits to the health house in Zvecan. They also advised patients suffering from chronic diseases, in particular those older than 65 years, to contact their doctors over the phone and get regular therapy prescribed this way, instead of coming to the hospital.
The same advice was given by Gracanica Clinical Centre. It also urged older patients if they need to extend the therapy, and have no other health issues, to do so over the phone.
Kosovo-online portal reports that in 14 Serb-returnees villages in Klina municipality there are no cases of coronavirus registered. Bozidar Sarkovic from the village of Dolac in Klina, told the portal Serbs there act in line with the recommendations on banning the movement. He noted that Serbs in 135 families, in the 14 villages have self-organized; they do not leave the houses, and for the time being have enough food supplies. According to Sarkovic, the Health House in Osojane has sufficient medications, and people also organized themselves to help those older and needy.
Seven new cases, 55 in total (B92)
Seven new cases of coronavirus have been registered in Serbia, according to the official website of the Serbian Ministry of Health
Thus, by March 8, 2020, the number of cases registered had risen to 55.
From last report to 8 p.m., on March 16, 2020, 18 samples were tested, 7 of which were positive and 11 negative for the new coronavirus.
Three people are in home isolation with a lighter clinical picture, while four people are kept in hospital without any complications, with stable general condition.
By 8 am on March 16, 2020, a total of 301 people were tested in the national reference laboratory of the Torlak Institute, which met the criteria of the case definition.
Just to recall, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic declared a state of emergency last night on the territory of Serbia.
See at: https://bit.ly/2xzOXrI
“Don’t make us impose a curfew” (B92, Prva TV)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that people didn’t take the government’s measures seriously urging them to become serious and behave in accordance with the measures, B92 reports.
“As of this morning, we have five new cases, a total of 55. Of those, 28 are under home treatment while two are in serious condition and on a respirator,” Brnabic told TV Prva. She thanked overall medical staff and experts in Serbia.
“From day 15, the number of infected starts to rise, which is why we decided yesterday to introduce emergency measures,” Brnabic explained. She particularly urged citizens to take seriously the measures taken by the Government.
“It seems to me that people didn’t take it seriously, they don’t listen to the president, nor me, nor the experts.
“A lot of senior citizens are on the streets. Everyone over 65 should take us seriously. What I see on the streets today is devastating. You’re forcing the government to impose a curfew. If we don’t have the discipline, we won’t win this”, Serbian Prime Minister said.
“If this goes on in this direction, we will be forced to introduce additional measures”.
See at: https://bit.ly/3aZULtc
Trial in Oliver Ivanovic’s murder case postponed until further notice (B92, Kosovo-online)
Second, preliminary hearing in the case of Oliver Ivanovic’s murder has been postponed until further notice, lawyer Dejan A. Vasic told Kosovo-online portal.
The trial was supposed to take place today at 9.30 at the Basic Court in Pristina. Vasic said he was notified by the presiding judge that the trial will be postponed.
Vucic-Merkel video-conference postponed (Tanjug)
Video-conference of the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been postponed to Tuesday, Tanjug news agency reports.
As Tanjug unofficially learnt the reason for postponement is a phone-summit of the EU leaders that takes place due to the coronavirus situation.
Vucic said earlier the main topics of the conversation would include continuation of the dialogue with Pristina and the recent situation following the coronavirus outbreak.
Montenegro closes borders over coronavirus pandemic (BETA, N1)
Montenegro on Monday temporarily banned foreign nationals from entering the country if they are not permanent residents or bringing in goods, BETA news agency said citing a statement from the National Coordination Body for Infectious Diseases.
The government has ordered all clubs, restaurants and bars closed as well as playrooms and fitness centers for at least two weeks but did not shut down food deliveries.
So far, Montenegro is the only European country which has not reported any coronavirus cases but 638 people are being monitored according to the Public Health Institute.
The government Coordination body has also limited the number of shoppers in a store at any one time to 50 and the number of people at open air markets to 100. Anyone allowed into the country will be ordered into home quarantine for two weeks.
Earlier, the government closed schools and universities, banned public gatherings and visits to hospitals and jails as well as travel to seven countries in Europe.
Coronavirus: The Pandemic Stress Test (Balkan Insight)
Populist leaders have capitalised politically on the plight of the precariat. If there is any silver lining, it is that long-vilified experts have an opportunity to regain the public’s trust, Raghuram G. Rajan writes.
The coronavirus pandemic has taken the world by surprise and will now expose underlying economic weaknesses wherever they lie. But the crisis also reminds us that we live in a deeply interconnected world.
If the pandemic has any silver lining, it is the possibility of a much-needed reset in public dialogue that focuses attention on the most vulnerable in society, on the need for global cooperation and on the importance of professional leadership and expertise.
Apart from the direct impact on public health, a crisis of this magnitude can trigger at least two direct kinds of economic shock.
The first is a shock to production, owing to disrupted global supply chains. Suspending the production of basic pharmaceutical chemicals in China disrupts the production of generic drugs in India, which in turn reduces drug shipments to the United States.
The second shock is to demand: as people and governments take steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus, spending in restaurants, shopping malls and tourist destinations collapses.
See at: https://bit.ly/2IS7HVX
Preventing panic (Prishtina Insight)
As well as containing the virus, it is important to tackle the mental stresses and strains of a pandemic, including retaining a sense of self-control, Eurisa Rukovci writes for Prishtina Insight.
When COVID-19 first emerged in the province of Wuhan, China, not many citizens of Kosovo were worried that it would come knocking on their door. It was just another item at the end of the seven o’clock news, mixed in with other international stories.
However, following COVID-19’s spread to Europe, Kosovo’s first two confirmed cases were announced on Friday night. Fear of the virus came even earlier, with the high number of recorded deaths in Italy and the spread of the coronavirus to Albania prompting Kosovo residents to start taking measures and try to protect themselves.
The situation is understandable to a degree: Being prepared for quarantine is very smart. However, buying in excess and stockpiling food items is not the wisest move.
See at: https://bit.ly/3d1RVWn
Tight-Lipped Balkan Governments Scramble to Defend Against COVID-19 (Balkan Insight)
The COVID-19 pandemic is proving a stress test of struggling health services in the Balkans, and of government transparency.
While fewer than 200 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the Balkans, a lack of government transparency is fuelling concern over the capacity of health services across the region to deal with the pandemic.
States in the Balkans have taken a range of steps, from closing schools to restricting public gatherings and cutting off travel links with Italy, but experts fear the relatively low number of tests carried out and cases confirmed does not reflect the true scale of the outbreak and are worried about the readiness of health services.
See at: https://bit.ly/2Wla0IX
Serbia Imposes State of Emergency, Pleads for China’s Help (Balkan Insight)
Announcing a state of emergency, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic slammed the EU for restricting exports of medical equipment and appealed for help from his “friend and brother”, Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
President Aleksandar Vucic told a press conference on Sunday evening that he has sent a letter to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping asking for help after the EU imposed limits on exports of medical equipment amid the coronavirus crisis.
“I sent a letter to President Xi, in which for the first time I officially called him not only a dear friend but also a brother, and not only my personal friend but also a friend and brother of this country,” Vucic said.
“As of today, as you know, we cannot even import goods, according to the European Union’s decisions, [European Commission president] Ursula von der Leyen said this a while ago, we cannot import medical equipment from EU countries,” he added.
See at: https://bit.ly/2vptXTT
Albania Adopts Punitive Fines for Breaching Coronavirus Restrictions (Balkan Insight)
The Albanian government adopted wide-ranging emergency legislation that imposes fines of up to 83,000 euros for violations of measures intended to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The Albanian government on Sunday adopted an emergency law that allows people to be fined for various breaches of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, including holding social, cultural or political gatherings or selling food or medicines that do not comply with safety regulations.
Prime Minister Edi Rama said that anyone who complains about the heavy fines should understand that the penalties are “not [meant] to collect money for the state, but to protect the people from violations that threaten their health in this war situation”.
Social, cultural or political gatherings, either in enclosed or open-air spaces, are banned, and violators can be fined up to 5 million lek (40,000 euros).
See at: https://bit.ly/39WZKur
Coronavirus: Live Updates (Balkan Insight)
We’re bringing you the latest updates as Southeast and Central Europe brace for an increase in the number of official cases of the coronavirus, with more countries in the region announcing states of emergency, lockdowns and partial shutdowns.
Around 300 people in the region have tested positive for COVID-19, with three reported deaths, one in Albania and two in Bulgaria.
All countries in the region declared a “high epidemic risk” and in some, the state of the emergency, and have introduced new daily measures in an attempt to mitigate the virus’ spread
Coronavirus measures triggered flight suspension across the region, partial border closures, local roads lock downs and temporarily school shutdowns
Some countries banned large gatherings and imposed travel restrictions.
See at: https://bit.ly/2TRg4HE
HIV: prejudice that endures (Prishtina Insight)
Tackling the stigma against people living with HIV is not only a moral issue. A new survey reveals how discriminatory behaviour from health professionals in Kosovo creates barriers to accessing healthcare, leaving Kosovo with one of the lowest testing coverages in Europe.
Alban Gjonbalaj has an incredibly difficult job. He spends his time reaching out to people who, like himself, have tested positive for HIV in Kosovo, encouraging them to seek medical treatment and support for themselves and their families.
Sitting with Prishtina Insight, Gjonbalaj, who founded KAPHA, the Kosovo Association for People Living with HIV/AIDS, recounts one of the toughest moments he has experienced working with a fellow person living with HIV.
See at: https://bit.ly/3d50srl