Vucic: Eyes of Serbia are looking to China now (Beta)
Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo told Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic that official Beijing had approved a package of aid to help Serbia combat the coronavirus pandemic. She said that the aid would include a donation and experts who, she said, would arrive in Serbia by the end of the week, a press release said. Vucic is quoted as saying that Serbia is not asking for money. “We are asking for much more than money, we are asking for Chinese love, we are asking for your people to help us and we are asking for this to enable us to buy things,” he said.
According to the President, Serbia is not in the same position as other countries, adding that “the eyes of Serbia are looking to China now”. “We need your help and support to avoid the worst-case scenario and I am asking you to send everything that you can. Money is not the problem. We need everything from masks, gloves, respirators, literally everything and most of all we need your knowledge and people who want to come here and help us get out of this grave crisis without thousands and tens of thousands of dead,” he said.
Brnabic: Possibility of introducing more drastic measures not excluded (TV Pink/Tanjug)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said she does not rule out the possibility that the state will introduce more drastic measures tonight, especially for older citizens, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Appearing on TV Pink, Brnabic reiterated that a large number of citizens yesterday did not take seriously the recommendations and measures adopted by the government, estimating that the situation is better today, but that it is not nearly good enough. I do not rule out the possibility that we will decide tonight on more drastic, most difficult measures, the Prime Minister reiterated, stating that she will have a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic this afternoon, a meeting with representatives of political parties and opposition movements, as well as with both crisis teams, after which they will address the public. She pointed out that the coronavirus situation in Serbia is complicated, noting that today we have eight more cases infected, so it has been confirmed that a total of 65 people have been infected with the virus.
Brnabic specified that 31 people are in home isolation while the others were hospitalized, adding that most of them are stable while four were on respirators. We had the case that more than 50% of people are in self-isolation these days, and now 48% are home-treated, the Prime Minister said.
New government measures to combat COVID-19 virus (Tanjug/Beta)
At today’s session, the Serbian government adopted new measures aimed at combating the spread of the COVID-19 disease. The government’s decision identified several facilities in the territory of the Republic of Serbia which will serve as quarantines if necessary. Measures to limit outdoor and indoor public gathering have been tightened. Gatherings are limited in both cases so that the distance between two people must be at least two meters, and there may not be more than one person in an area of four square meters. Owners are under obligation to indicate in front of their premises the total number of people who are allowed to be there at the same time. Exempted from the application of this decision are persons who, because of their work obligation and a specific way of organizing work, cannot objectively apply this measure. As a precaution, the measure related to the ban on export of medicines has been tightened and now the export ban applies not only to medicines manufactured in Serbia, but to all medicines that are in the territory of our country. For the same reason in addition to sunflower cooking oil, export of sunflower seeds and semi-processed oil has been banned starting today. Today’s session began with a minute of silence for the victims of the 17 March 2004 pogrom in Kosovo and Metohija. In view of the state of emergency in force in the Republic of Serbia, this was the way to mark the 16th anniversary of the first pogrom in Europe in the 21st century, when more than 35 Serb churches and monasteries were burned down as well as more than 1,000 houses, more than 4,000 Serbs were expelled from their homes, while 28 people lost their lives.
Government of Serbia passed the Decree: Constitution guaranteed rights restricted (Tanjug/B92)
The government of Serbia adopted a Decree on Emergency Measures, which derogates from Constitution guaranteed human and minority rights during a state of emergency. The regulation, passed on 15 March, and published on 16 March in the Official Gazette, states that the Ministry of the Interior, in agreement with the Ministry of Health, may temporarily restrict or prohibit the movement of persons in public places. The same ministries may order individuals or groups of persons who are infected or suspected of being infected with an infectious disease COVID-19 to reside at their place of residence, with the obligation to report to the competent health institution.
The Ministry of Interior may order the closure of all accesses to an open space or facility and prevent it from leaving that space or facility without special approval, the Regulation states.
It is stated that the Ministry of Interior can order compulsory stay of certain persons or groups of persons in a certain area and certain facilities such as migrant reception centers, etc. The ordinance prohibits the convening and holding of rallies and all other gatherings of citizens outdoors. All gatherings indoors (sports, cultural and other events) are also prohibited, except for gatherings that are of particular interest for the operation and functioning of state bodies and services. Special interest gatherings require special approvals issued by the Minister of the Interior. With the entry into force of this Regulation, all election actions in the conducting of elections for MPs, MPs of the Assembly of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina and councilors of the assemblies of municipalities and cities, which were called for 26 April 2020, shall be suspended. Conducting of election actions will continue from the day the state of emergency ceases, the Decree states, and it is the responsibility of the election commissions to provide and preserve existing election documentation until the continuation of the conducting of election actions and elections.
Dacic: Lavrov’s visit to Serbia postponed; assistance from Russia in fight against coronavirus (Tanjug/Beta)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic spoke on Monday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the phone. The officials agreed that the visit of Minister Lavrov to Serbia, scheduled for 25 and 26 March this year, should be postponed due to the situation caused by the Covid-19 virus epidemic. It was agreed that Lavrov will visit Serbia after the end of the state of emergency, which was introduced in Serbia yesterday. Dacic informed his colleague about the measures that Serbia is taking to address the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and protect its population. He asked Lavrov for assistance in the procurement of additional medical equipment, which would be necessary in case of a sudden increase in the number of patients. Lavrov promised that Russia, as always, will help Serbia, wishing the brotherly Serbian people and its leadership to defeat this vicious virus as quickly as possible. Dacic and Lavrov have agreed to stay in communication with the aim of sharing experiences, mutual assistance and support in overcoming this challenge that are ahead not only of our countries, but of the entire world.
WHO supports Serbia in fight against coronavirus (Tanjug)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic spoke on the phone with Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Dacic praised WHO’s efforts to help all countries affected by the global pandemic of the Covid-19 virus, as well as to the organization’s assistance to Serbia, especially in the form of virus detection tests, which will be of great importance in preventing the growth of the number of people suffering from the disease in our country. He briefed the WHO Director-General on the current situation and activities the government of Serbia is undertaking to protect its population. Dacic expressed concern that an increase in the number of patients in the coming period could lead to a lack of necessary medical equipment, tests for detecting viruses and disinfectants, and appealed to Ghebreyesus to provide the necessary assistance. Ghebreyesus promised that the WHO would respond positively to our country’s demands and provide the necessary assistance in line with the resources currently available. According to him, the world today needs solidarity more than ever because it is a problem that affects everyone and can only be overcome through joint action. The officials agreed to remain in constant contact so that Serbia, as well as other affected countries, with the help and support of WHO, can quickly overcome this virus. Following the talks, the WHO Director General thanked Dacic for the call on his Twitter account and said that the WHO would support Serbia in the fight against coronavirus.
Joksimovic asks EC to redirect IPA funds for fight against coronavirus (Tanjug)
Serbian Minister for European Integration Jadranka Joksimovic sent an official letter to European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Oliver Varhelyi requesting that the European Union enable the redirection of unspent IPA funds for preventive measures and suppression of the consequences of the coronavirus epidemic in Serbia.
In the letter, Joksimovic underlined that these funds, which would be specified in the agreement with the European Commission (EC), would be intended to support national institutions and bodies engaged in combating the spread of the epidemic and effectively responding to the consequences of the virus for the citizens and society of Serbia. The letter outlines the basic measures and activities Serbia is taking to prevent the spread of the virus, to provide adequate care for all infected citizens, and especially for the elderly, and to remedy and mitigate the effects of the epidemic as much as possible. She pointed out that the Serbian government is actively working to use all available financial and other resources and capacity. She stated that European countries – members, candidates and potential candidates, will be able to respond to this global challenge only together and by expressing true European solidarity.
Sixteen years since the March pogrom (RTS)
On this day 16 years ago, the March pogrom carried out against Serbs in Kosovo, their property and shrines took place, when 19 people were killed, about 1,000 injured, more than 4,000 Serbs expelled from their homes and 35 Orthodox Christian religious buildings set on fire. Among those killed were eight Serbs, while 11 Albanians died in clashes with members of international security forces. On 15 March 2004 in Caglavica, a village near Pristina, a young Serb man, Jovica Ivic, 18, was wounded and was taken to the hospital in northern Mitrovica in a serious condition. Protests took place involving residents of this village and other Serb villages in the area (Gracanica, Susica, Laplje Selo, Preoce …) A day later, three Albanian boys (8, 11 and 12 years old) died when threy drowned in the Ibar River, for which the local media blamed Serbs. An investigation by UNMIK (United Nations mission in Kosovo) police found these allegations to be false. All the same, Albanians claimed otherwise, saying that six boys had been running away from people from the Serb village of Zupce, when they fell into the Ibar on 16 March, 2004, three of them drowning. Albanian officials blamed the Serb side for this, sparking anger among Kosovo Albanians. Albanians started gathering in the southern part of Kosovska Mitrovica a few hours later, blocking access to the city and crossing a barricade on the Ibar bridge. They began throwing Molotov cocktails and setting UNMIK vehicles on fire. Riots soon spread to 33 locations in Kosovo, involving about 60,000 Albanians, according to an UNMIK report. At the same time thousands of people protested in cities in Serbia because of these attacks on Serb enclaves. On the evening of the same day that violence erupted in Kosovo, mosques were set on fire in Belgrade and Nis, while the Islamic Community HQ was demolished in Novi Sad. “If there had not been for the irresponsible and sensationalist coverage of the events of 17 and18 March, things in Kosovo could have gone quite differently,” said a report by the OSCE Pristina Office for Media Freedom, published two months after the March violence.
According to an official UNMIK report released by the UN in April 2004, 19 people were killed in the March riots, while several remained unidentified. A total of 954 people were injured, including 61 KFOR soldiers and 65 UNMIK police officers. More than 4,000 Serbs were expelled. In the two days of Albanian violence, about 800 Serb houses were destroyed and 35 religious buildings were burned down, including 18 monuments of culture, such as the Church of Our Lady of Ljevis in Prizren. According to the Serbian Orthodox Church’s Diocese of Raska-Prizren, in April 2004, the total number of destroyed church facilities was close to 100.
The March pogrom was an introduction into the unilateral declaration of independence
After the 2004 pogrom, Albanians started accelerating their work to transfer the authority of the provisional institutions to Kosovo and Metohija, negotiations on Kosovo’s final status began, followed by the unilateral declaration of independence in 2008. The ethnic cleansing of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija was done as they are a major obstacle to independence and pan-Albanian unification. Some of the displaced Serbs, whose houses and apartments were destroyed received accommodation in makeshift collective centers or elsewhere in Kosovo and Metohija, while a large number left.
RIK: All election activities cease during state of emergency in Serbia (Beta/FoNet/N1)
The Republican Election Commission (RIK) decided on Monday to cease all election activities regarding then vote called for April 26, in line with the Decree on State of Emergency Measures, Vladimir Dimitrijevic, the RIK head said. The decision was brought with the majority of votes.
“RIK’s decision means that after the lifting of the state of emergency new deadlines for elections’ process will be set and that all the activities that have been undertaken until now will be valid in the resumption of the process,” Bojan Clacar, from the Center for Free Elections and Democracy (CeSID), told N1.
One more COVID-19 case of B&H, raising the number to 26 cases in total; Parliament declared the state of emergency (N1)
Another coronavirus case in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) was confirmed Tuesday, following the testing of new samples at the Sarajevo University Clinical Centre (KCUS).
According to Sebija Izetbegovic, the KCUS general manager, the patient is a woman who returned to the north Bosnian city of Bihac from the German city of Munich, seven days ago.
This means that the total number of patients with COVID-19 in B&H is now 26.
Most patients are in B&H’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity (20). B&H’s health authorities confirmed Monday that two RS patients were cured of COVID-19. Epidemiologists believe that the number of infections could rise over the next several days and weeks which is why the state parliament declared the state of emergency on the territory of the entire country and increase the border control.
B&H Presidency adopts 18 conclusions on measures for fight against coronavirus epidemic in B&H (Hayat)
The B&H Presidency adopted 18 conclusions during the session. They called on citizens to respect and implement the advice of competent authorities and called on citizens of B&H living abroad not to travel to B&H until the epidemic calms down. It was announced that the B&H Council of Ministers (B&H CoM) will declare a state of disaster on B&H level and a number of border crossings in B&H will be shut down. Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said that numerous citizens of B&H left abroad to work and do not have adequate health insurance in the countries they live in and they expect increased pressure of these people in the upcoming months. He added that he will request the establishment of quarantine settlements on certain border crossings for the people to spend 14 days in quarantine. He commended the cooperation between entities. “What we have now will undermine economy and it will undermine economy of several companies of ours which are directly engaged in the issues of import and export, transport, tourism,” said Dodik. He announced the possibility of banning the entrance to all foreigners to B&H. ˝What the B&H Presidency agreed on is that it is necessary to ensure a stable budget system. I have to say that the stability of banks is obvious, and the stability of the banking system is very clear and with cooperation of the banking system and the Central Bank we can ensure significant funds to keep the budget system going. We have to ensure that citizens of both entities and the Brcko District can be sure that their salaries and pensions will be paid˝ said Dodik. He stressed that banks need to be able to provide help not only to business institutions but to citizens as well. Dodik said that they need to be ready for the worst-case scenario and the possibility of a mass epidemic and he asked all citizens to be responsible and stay home. Asked about the quarantines for foreigners and B&H citizens who enter B&H, Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic said that foreigners who come from countries which have been severely affected by the coronavirus are banned from entering B&H. He added that these measures will be expanded based on the development of the events. Dzaferovic said that the CoM will handle the issue of quarantines for citizens of B&H and it will be supported by the B&H Presidency. He reminded that they called B&H citizens living abroad to not come to B&H and those who come will be placed into quarantine. Dzaferovic said that the CoM will provide details on the nature of this quarantine. “What I can say now is that we will approve the use of the Armed Forces of B&H (AF), there is consensus among us, as well as the equipment of the B&H AF to establish these quarantines and the B&H AF will be responsible only for that. Health supervision, the accommodation, the regime will be managed by competent authorities depending on the level of authority in B&H,” said Dzaferovic. Dzaferovic stressed that the B&H Presidency adopted eighteen conclusions. “What I want to say that is very important is that all authorities of all authority levels from across B&H were present here today (Monday) at the Presidency’s session. We were informed by them about the situation as it is and measures, they are taking. Of course, we, as the collective head of the country, gave suggestions and proposals and we said what we will do within our constitutional competences” Dzaferovic said. He further stated that the B&H Presidency was informed that the governments of the entities and the government of the Brcko District declared the state of natural and other disaster in B&H. “We expect the B&H CoM to do the same tomorrow (Tuesday) at the level of the state of B&H. We were told that this will be done at tomorrow’s session. This basically changes a lot of things, simplifies procedures and helps us to more efficiently deal with the problem that we have in B&H today,” Dzaferovic said. He stressed that the B&H Presidency supported limiting the number of border crossings through which people and goods will be able to cross. “Therefore, for the existing number of border crossings to be reduced. The B&H CoM will do that and it will be done in the necessary way so that life can function, on one hand, and on the other hand, to provide the best possible response to the challenges we are faced with when it comes to this pandemic,” Dzaferovic underlined. He noted that the B&H Presidency especially focused on measures related to the B&H economy. “We are asking all authority levels in B&H, all institutions and all authorities to do everything they can to mitigate as much as possible negative consequences that will be evident for the economy of B&H,” Dzaferovic stressed. Dodik told the press conference that task of the media and politicians is to present the situation as it is and not diminish the significance of the danger that is threatening having in mind that many countries that are richer and more organized than B&H are exposed to a virus that kills and sows death. “The virus is dangerous. It is attacking not only people, it will also change our way of life here and in the entire region. Pandemic is now most significantly spreading in Europe. Virus that entered Republika Srpska (RS) and B&H came from the West. Our people who live and work there brought the virus and we now have problems with that,” Dodik said. Dodik stressed that B&H has a ten-day window of opportunity to try to do something so that it does not experience the fate of Italy. Dodik stressed that one is doing everything to reduce the possibility of transmission and spread of the disease. “That is why it is necessary for everyone to stay home and to engage in social contact as little as possible, to abide by measures adopted by relevant bodies of the entities, cantons, i.e. Brcko District and us at the joint level, and to simply demonstrate that we as people can prevent and be motivated to prevent the entry of such a dangerous pandemic that will cause lasting harm to every society,” Dodik underlined.
Dodik noted that there is an initiative of relevant healthcare ministries that it is necessary to introduce quarantine at the border for all B&H citizens. Dodik underlined that Austria, Italy and some other countries are already deporting B&H citizens having in mind that their healthcare systems are burdened with their own citizens and that they do not have the capacities to treat citizens of other countries, including B&H.
RS government declares emergency situation for territory of RS (ATV)
At an extraordinary session that was held in Banja Luka on Monday, the RS government declared an emergency situation over the outbreak of the new coronavirus COVID-19. The RS government will be in session every day, adopting certain measures that will be binding on the entire territory of the RS. The RS parliament will also be requested to declare a state of emergency in line with its competences as soon as possible. The RS has registered 20 cases of the infection so far. Seven patients were admitted to the RS University-Clinical Center, while 13 patients are in self-quarantine at home. Two patients were completely cured.
Addressing a press conference on this occasion, RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic explained that there have been a number of examples of violation of the measures introduced and there have been a number of social contacts where they should not have happened, which resulted in a new situation and new obligations. “When you declare an emergency situation, a special headquarters is to be established to be in charge of all activities related to such situation. The RS government i.e. the headquarters will be adopting certain measures, in cooperation with all competent institutions,” Cvijanovic explained. She stressed the importance of protecting medical workers, so that they can help citizens of the RS. Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik stated that the situation is difficult because it is uncertain. “You could hear last night that Germany closed its borders and that the EU decided to ban the export of medical equipment. We have to adjust to this situation,” Dodik reminded. He stressed that those who behave irresponsibly after they return from foreign countries will certainly face sanctions. “A certain number of completely irresponsible individuals are ignoring all calls, they are ignoring their own findings from the countries they returned from, thus spreading this virus by moving without control during the first days. That is exactly what happened with this man from Srbac, who came from Germany by van together with a number of people. Of course, he brought us the virus in this way. It is completely irresponsible, Dodik said. RS Minister of Healthcare and Social Welfare Alen Seranic stressed that citizens should not go to the healthcare institutions on their own in order to be tested. He underlined that nobody will be tested if they come on their own, explaining that there are clear procedures and definitions as to who should be tested and when. RS Minister of Finance Zora Vidovic stressed that all budget obligations towards budget beneficiaries, natural persons and legal entities will be settled on a regular basis. The officials of the RS stressed that the point of all of the current and future measures is to show responsibility over the next several weeks, in order to prevent or at least reduce the harmful consequences of the virus.
All citizens of B&H who enter country will be sent to self-isolation to prevent coronavirus outbreak (N1)
N1 carries that application of measures according to which all B&H citizens entering B&H are sent into mandatory 14-day isolation started at border crossings in B&H on Monday. The abovementioned measures adopted by the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) also ban citizens of twelve countries from entering B&H. Representative of Bijaca Unit of the B&H Border Police Mario Lovric stressed that all foreign nationals coming from areas with pronounced transmission of coronavirus are banned from entering B&H. “This applies to 12 countries, including France, Spain, Italy, Korea, Iran, Belgium, Switzerland, China of course,” Lovric underlined. N1 noted that flow of people and goods over the border in the south of B&H has been reduced in previous days. Lovric stressed that members of the B&H Border Police are complying with protective measures as much as they can. “Protective gloves and masks are mandatory,” Lovric underlined.
Izetbegovic: Drastic measures against coronavirus are necessary in order to stop epidemic (Hayat)
President of the SDA and deputy speaker of the B&H House of People (B&H HoP) Bakir Izetbegovic said that the entity authorities practically declared a state of emergency and it is necessary to do so. He added that everyone underestimated the virus and many things have been speculated, and now one can witness the restrictive measures implemented globally. “If we do not react quickly and decisively, we will witness the virus create a paralysis of the system in B&H,” said Izetbegovic. He added that drastic measures of lowering communication and travel are better done as prevention than as a result of the virus. Izetbegovic expects for existing measures to be made even stricter in the upcoming days. Asked about the losses of the economy due to the crisis, Izetbegovic said that tourism is suffering and trade retail is still working well but grocery stores are already seeing empty shelves and they will face issues soon. “SDA requested several measures which will have to be undertaken. Those are the postponement of VAT until the end of the month, the freezing of loan payments, and if this continues, we will have to create a balance and establish funds which will provide support. People cannot be left without at least some minimum salaries,” said Izetbegovic.
Serbia and Montenegro close down border crossings towards B&H (Hayat)
In order to stop the spreading of the coronavirus Serbia and Montenegro closed all border crossings towards B&H. The entrance into those two countries is only allowed to the citizens of the respective countries and citizens who have a residence permit, as well as transport drivers. Border crossings between B&H and Croatia remain open for B&H citizens and detailed controls are performed.
Croatia confirms nine more coronavirus patients, announces new measures (Hina)
Nine more coronavirus cases were confirmed in Croatia, including two more doctors, bringing the total of infection cases in the country up to 65, Health Minister Vili Beros confirmed at a press conference on Tuesday morning. “In the given circumstances, the situation is very good and we will do our best to ensure it remains that way… However, given the nature of this epidemic, we can expect an increase in cases in Croatia in the coming days,” Beros said.
One of the infected doctors is employed at the University Hospital Centre Zagreb, the largest hospital in Croatia, while the other works at the Zagreb’s Vrapce Psychiatric Hospital. None of the patients who had tested positive for the virus are exhibiting severe symptoms, said Alemka Markotic, head of the Zagreb Fran Mihaljevic Hospital. So far, four people have completely recovered. Beros appealed to the elderly and those with chronic conditions to stay at home and go out only in an emergency, saying that crisis teams would organize medical and food deliveries for them. A number of centers for testing have been formed, but Beros said that more testing will not be done at this point. “The experts said so. We have tested an adequate number of people… the experts have clearly said who needs to be tested. This whole time we are taking important measures to impose self-isolation and quarantine, but we also appeal to people to be more responsible,” he said. Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic also called on the public to be responsible and obey self-isolation rules, saying that 93 people have so far been fined for violating self-isolation. Bozinovic repeated that all planned trips abroad should be postponed or cancelled and announced that 27 border crossings between Croatia and Slovenia will be closed soon.
Croatian army activities reduced to minimum (Hina)
The Defense Ministry said on Monday that the Croatian Army’s activities have been reduced to the minimum due to the coronavirus outbreak but that the army’s readiness is not in question. “The safety and health of Croatian Army members is the absolute priority and all army activities have been reduced. However, the army’s readiness will be maintained and tasks that cannot be postponed will be carried out,” the Ministry said in a statement. All army command units are in contact with local civil protection authorities and health officials and are following the situation closely. The army members’ participation in international activities and conferences, exercises and courses has been cancelled as have all military exercises. Classes at the Franjo Tudjman Military Academy will be conducted online. All programs of army assistance to local communities and civil society institutions will be suspended, except for those that are related to mitigating the impact of the coronavirus epidemic. The health status of Croatian soldiers in Croatia and in missions and operations abroad is good and it is being monitored 24 hours a day, the Ministry said.
Von der Leyen proposes ban to entrance to EU for citizens of all non-EU countries (HRT)
President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen proposed to heads of the EU countries to introduce 30-day-long ban to entrance to their countries for citizens of all non-EU countries, except those that are part of the European market. Von der Leyen underlined that number of travels within the EU needs to be reduced too, because this is this only way to prevent spreading of Coronavirus. Minister of Interior Davor Bozinovic stressed that such decision would not affect Croatia despite to the fact it is not part of Schengen Zone.
Djukanovic: Abiding by recommendations, we protect ourselves, our families and our country (CDM)
“We are monitoring the situation in the region, Europe and in the world, after the WHO declared coronavirus pandemic. We are all responsible for our own health, health of our families and, therefore, health of our society” said Montenegro’s President, Milo Djukanovic. “Abiding by the orders and recommendations of the National Coordination Authority against contagious diseases, we protect ourselves, our families and our Montenegro,” the President said.
Government outlines new measures to prevent coronavirus outbreak (CDM)
With the aim of protecting from the coronavirus, Montenegro has taken new temporary measures – borders will be closed for foreigners, self-isolation is compulsory and cafes, playrooms, gyms and malls will be closed. “Forecasts from the region are alarming, number of infected people is on the rise. We are doing our best here in Montenegro to postpone outbreak. And if we register it, we’ll do our best to prevent its spreading and provide the best possible medical care” Milutin Simovic, Vice President of the Government and Minister of Agriculture, said after the meeting of the National Coordination body. “Restrictions and measures taken so far are justified. It was responsible approach” Simović said. He said that all border crossings would be closed. Turnover will be unhindered with special measures of health and sanitary inspection. Borders won’t be closed for Montenegrin citizens. New temporary measures to protect from COVID19:
- prohibition of entry into the country to foreigners (except for turnover of goods)
- self-isolation of passengers who traveled abroad
- prohibition of hospitality services in hotels, except for registered guests
- closing discos, night clubs, cafes, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, playgrounds, fitness centers, casinos, betting places and gambling places.
- limiting number of buyers – maximum 50 people in a facility. At markets and malls there can be 100 people maximum. Foreigners won’t be allowed to enter.
“Prime Minister will launch initiative referring to the special turnover regime. The Government is willing to put ports at disposal of the countries in the region. We are carefully monitoring the whole situation” Simovic said. He said they believed there was no need for the public transport to be limited. “Employers are obliged to obey. No public assemblies. Every institution will identify and define specific regimes of its activities compatible to such recommendations,” Simovic said. Minister of Health, Kenan Hrapovic, said that the country had done great work and that no coronavirus cases had been confirmed in Montenegro so far. Director of the Clinical Center of Montenegro, Jevto Erakovic, said that there was a considerable degree of individual responsibility. “Clinical Centre is ready in case the virus breaks out in Montenegro. For now, there have been no cases confirmed” Erakovic said. He added that Clinical Center had equipment for all healthcare workers. Minister of Economy, Dragica Sekulic, said that different regime of work would be in force – social distancing. “Not more than 50 buyers will be allowed to be in a facility at the same time, regardless of the surface area of that facility. Managers of trading facilities must organize lines and make sure there’s distance,” Sekulic said. Prime Minister, Dusko Markovic, talked with the Governor of the Central Bank of Montenegro, Radoje Zugic and discussed creation of the set of measures to minimize negative impact of COVID-19 on the economy and citizens. Markovic pointed out that Montenegro’s priority was health of its citizens and added that economic parameters should be taken into account as well. “We are aware of the position our citizens are in. We are doing our best to act appropriately in order to mitigate consequences the whole world will experience,” he said. Zugic stressed that Central Bank was working hard on the preparation of the set of measures. Interlocutors agreed that it was important that those measures were implemented during the crisis caused the coronavirus. Markovic pointed out that the whole system had proven to be functioning well in the crisis.
Getting to grips with the coronavirus (CDM)
With the aim of preventing spread of coronavirus Montenegrin Ministry of Health has adopted a set of temporary measures. New temporary measures:
- prohibition for foreigners to enter the country. Turnover of goods will remain unhindered.
mandatory self-isolation for all Montenegrin citizens and foreigners who are in Montenegro either permanently or temporarily.
- prohibition of hospitality services in hotels, except for registered guests
- closing discos and night clubs and bars
- closing hospitality facilities, expect for facilities which deliver food.
- prohibition of trading and hospitality services in malls
- closing children playrooms
- closing fitness centers
- closing casinos, betting and gambling places
- limiting number of buyers in relation to the surface area of the facility – only one person on 1o square meters. Not more than 50 persons are allowed to be in a facility at the same time. Not over than 100 persons are allowed to be in malls or at markets.
- responsible persons in trade facilities are obliged to maintain distance of at least 2 meters between people in front of the facility, cash registers or sectors where goods are provided by employees.
- responsible persons in trade facilities are obliged to provide protection measures for its employees.
- responsible persons in trade facilities are obliged to display at the entrance of the facility notice on the maximum number of persons allowed to enter the facility.
- municipalities, Capital and the Old Royal Capital are obliged to identify potential facilities which would be used for the implementation of quarantine measures.
Measures are implemented for the period of 15 days. Exceptional cases which are subject of international cooperation and in state interest, will be considered by the National Coordination Authority for Contagious Diseases. Those measures were preceded by temporary measures adopted last week:
Ban on cruisers and yachts to enter ports in Bar, Kotor, Budva, Kumbor-Portonovi, Tivat and Zelenika.
- Ban on landing and taking off at the airports in Tivat and Podgorica for the period between 13 and 19 March 2020.
- Ban on visiting persons in medical treatment in healthcare institutions or persons placed in social and children protection institutions.
- Ban on visiting persons deprived of liberty, expect lawyers and experts.
- Suspension of the education activities in public and private institutions for at least 15 days, starting from 16 March 2020.
Ban on travelling from Montenegro to:
Putting under health and sanitary watch passengers from:
Measures also imply the following: State authorities, state administration authorities, local administration authorities, legal entities, public institutions and other legal entities, entrepreneurs and physical persons performing specific activities to be enabled to perform their activities from their home. Special regime of the activities of the healthcare institutions enabling adequate functioning of the health system; delay of the heath checks during the period those measures are in force. Market subjects have been warned not to abuse the current situation for making extra profit. Competent inspections, especially market inspection, are recommended to enhance surveillance over implementation of this measure. Ministry of Health has launched Stay at home campaign which was endorsed by many public persons. “The new coronavirus is one of the most serious health threats the world has ever seen. Its epidemic and pandemic potential has been underestimated by many. The world is still learning about the virus and the impact it has on people. The mortality rate of this virus doesn’t allow us to act irresponsibly. We know now that prevention measures are the most effective one,” representatives of the Ministry have said. The pointed out that everybody should abide by simple hygiene rules. “Social distancing measure is particularly important,” the Ministry concluded.
North Macedonia closes borders, Skopje Airport amid coronavirus outbreak (MIA)
North Macedonia is shutting its borders to foreign nationals, passengers and vehicles in latest move to curb the spread of coronavirus, the government decided late Monday. Exceptions will be made for entry and transit of freight vehicles for diplomatic corps in the country, as well as others granted permission by the Ministry of Interior (MoI) upon prior approval by the crisis management body which would confirm state or economic interest, Health Minister Venko Filipche told a press conference Monday. “These vehicles and persons will enter the Republic of North Macedonia under strict conditions in line with the Ministry of Health protocol,” Filipche noted. The Skopje International Airport is also closing. Exceptions will be made for state, military, cargo, medical humanitarian and ghost flights 48 hours after this decision enters into force. Filipche pointed out that MoI has been further urged to take more decisive action on self-isolation measures and inform the government at all times.
No need to rush into declaring national emergency or crisis situation, says Pendarovski (MIA)
After a meeting of the National Security Council over the coronavirus situation in the country, President Stevo Pendarovski pointed out there was no need to rush into declaring a state of emergency or a nationwide crisis situation. At this point, he added, all assessments of the competent ministry indicate there’s no threat of such situation developing. “Should the need arise, as a National Security Council we can recommend the Government to declare a crisis situation in other municipalities as well” Pendarovski said Monday evening. According to him and the Security Council, there are two reasons why a decision to declare a nationwide crisis situation shouldn’t be rushed. “The first and the main reason is that it is not necessary. All competent institutions are monitoring the situation 24/7 and are on the front line of the coronavirus response. “Second, it is unfortunately clear, everywhere in the world, that this crisis will last. It is not here to be over in a week or two. We have to scale the resources we have according to the real needs and real risks” Pendarovski noted. The conclusion drawn by the Security Council on Monday, he continued, as regards the overall situation and Health Minister Venko Filipche’s assessment on the possible spreading of the new coronavirus on the territory of North Macedonia, is that the country is adequately responding to the risks it is exposed to. This, Pendarovski said, is also confirmed by the WHO, according to which North Macedonia best and most consistently implements in the wider region all the recommended measures. The President mentioned that the government will also hold an urgent session on Monday evening, where it might decide that an additional set of measures may be taken. All members of the Security Council had unanimously agreed that residents of Debar and Centar Zhupa, who are adhering with utmost consistency to all recommendations during the declared crisis in these two municipalities, deserve special recognition. Pendarovski, on behalf of the Security Council, urged all citizens to strictly adhere to all measures and recommendations. He also called on citizens to refrain from travelling abroad unless absolutely necessary, and especially to high or medium coronavirus risk countries. “They have the right to do this, but given the situation we’re in, any transfer across borders or territories could lead to contact with people who carry the disease, and thus they may unwillingly or unknowingly spread it” Pendarovski said. In terms of neighbors declaring national emergencies, he added that North Macedonia’s legislation allows for introducing certain measures to restrict movement without necessarily declaring a state of emergency. In addition, the President praised media for doing their job professionally, mentioning that only a small part of them were spreading fake news.
Dimitrov warns citizens against traveling abroad amid COVID-19 pandemic (MIA)
Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov on Monday evening urged citizens not to travel abroad amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “I urge you not to travel,” he said. “There is no way to know for certain when a Macedonian national who decides to travel tomorrow would be able to return home. The situation is extremely unpredictable, changing by the hour. States are making their own decisions, closing borders to foreign nationals, closing airports. Airlines are cancelling flights…” Dimitrov also called on all nationals living abroad to remain in the countries where they have regulated status of residence. The priority of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the moment are those citizens stranded at the border crossings in third countries. A group of 200 Macedonian nationals who were stuck at the Serbian-Hungarian border has been diverted through Romania and Bulgaria and is expected to arrive at the Deve Bair border crossing Tuesday morning, FM Dimitrov told a press conference at the Government. “We’ll put in our best effort to bring all of them back home, but we haven’t got much control I’m afraid over third countries’ borders,” he noted. The Foreign Minister said the EU could impose movement restrictions to contain the coronavirus. “It’s time to stay home, be brave and remain calm,” he urged.
Pendarovski: There should be no problem to postpone April elections (MIA)
I see no reason for the elections not to be postponed, in fact, people already know that the party leaders will meet tomorrow at noon to discuss the only item on the agenda – postponing of the elections, considering what has been happening here, in the region and worldwide, President Stevo Pendarovski said Monday evening. The OSCE/ODIHR, he said, has sent an official notification saying it is withdrawing its election monitoring mission, and its members will leave the country in the coming couple of days. Speaking at a news conference after the Security Council meeting, to declare state of emergency nationwide is in no relation to having elections, legally speaking. “It will only have political implications.” Referring to France, Pendarovski said the country on Sunday held local elections, where the voters’ turnout was drastically low, compared to the previous local elections. “I’d like to remind everyone that in 2015, we postponed the elections twice, without any problem, even though back then there was no state of emergency, not even in a single municipality in the country. Parliament reconvened to annul its own decision before setting a new election day. So, we have had such a legal precedent in times when there was no pandemic,” Pendarovski said when asked about the Security Council’s position on the 12 April elections in light of the situation with the new coronavirus.
Number of coronavirus patients in Republic of North Macedonia rises to 26 after three new cases confirmed (MIA)
Three people have tested positive for the coronavirus, says the Ministry of Health on Tuesday.
The three patients went to the Zhan Mitrev Clinic for tests. Their smears were once again tested at a lab of the Public Health Institute, which confirmed that they tested positive for the new virus. A total of 26 people are being treated for the coronavirus by Tuesday at noon. All patients are in stable condition.
Spanish Senate ratifies NATO Accession Protocol (MIA)
The Spanish Senate ratified North Macedonia’s NATO Accession Protocol at Tuesday’s session. The vote took place by video-link due to the coronavirus situation in the country. “The Spanish Senate unanimously ratified the Protocol. On behalf of the government and the Macedonian citizens, let me extend my gratitude to Spain and the country’s foreign minister for putting the issue on the agenda in such difficult circumstances for Spain, Europe and the world,” Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov told a joint press conference with Spanish Ambassador Emilio Lorenzo Serra. Dimitrov recalled that Spain is the 29th and last NATO member-states to ratify the Protocol. “It will now file the ratification instrument to the US State Department and then the report will be forwarded to the NATO HQ in Brussels, and we will be officially invited to file our law ratifying the North Atlantic Treaty that was adopted in the parliament,” said Dimitrov. Senate President Pilar Llop and a few other officials were present in person, while senators voted by video-link. The Spanish King is set to sign the protocol shortly.
Number of the infected in Albania reach 55 (ADN)
Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Institute of Public Health, Silva Bino said that 4 new cases of persons with COVID-19 are recorded in the last 24 hours. As a result of this increase, the official number of the infected has reached 55, with 38 cases in Tirana, 6 in Fier, 5 in Durres with 1 dead, 2 in Lushnja, 2 in Elbasan and 2 more in Rrogozhina. 8 doctors have been affected by the coronavirus in the entire Albania, they are self-quarantined and are in good medical condition.
Albania extends emergency measures to prevent COVID-19’s spread (ADN)
Albania has extended its emergency coronavirus measures, which include not only travel restrictions and a ban on public gatherings, to the entire country even not allowing going outdoor after 18:00 pm for all its citizens. Prime Minister Edi Rama has announced on Monday that movement of people is prohibited in the entire territory of the Republic of Albania after 18:00 every day, until further notice. “Starting from today, every following day, after 18.00, the movement on foot in the whole territory of the Republic of Albania will be also stopped,” said PM Rama. Apart from the drastic measure, Rama has notified that by order of the Minister of Health and Social Protection Ogerta Manastirliu, fines will be imposed on those citizens, who continue to walk around and those who attend the parks or other open environments. Rama once again apologized for the harsh measures but said there is no other way that the war against coronavirus can be won. He added that there is no reason for anyone except those working in the basic pillars of the country’s economic chain, or those buying basic necessities such as food or medicine, to leave the house.
Albania bans travels from UK (ADN)
Albanian government has decided to cancel flight towards and from United Kingdom (UK), in the framework of the measures against COVID-19. The restrictions are coming into effect at 23:59 on 16 March, and thousands of flights will be canceled. Previously, the government had cancelled flights with Italy and Greece.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
China sends first batch of medical aid to Serbia to help fight COVID-19 (Xinhua, 17 March 2020)
BELGRADE — The first batch of medical aid from China to Serbia has arrived in Belgrade over the weekend to help fight the COVID-19. The Serbian government said in a press release on Monday that the shipment included 1,000 rapid test kits manufactured by the Shenzhen-based BGI Genomics, which were donated by the Chinese humanitarian organization Mammoth Foundation. The assistance action was coordinated by the Chinese Embassy in Serbia, in cooperation with the Serbian government. The test kits arrived here on Sunday night and have been distributed to the national laboratory overnight. According to Xiong Tao, vice president of the BGI global development, the test kits can provide results within three hours. “We are convinced that with the help of our Chinese friends, with their expertise and experience, we will be able to successfully cope with the COVID-19 and that Serbia will emerge from this battle as a winner,” the government said in the press release. So far there are 57 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Serbia, and 316 people have been tested. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Sunday announced a state of emergency in the country to suppress the outbreak of coronavirus.
Speaking at the presidency building after meeting government members and medical experts, Vucic revealed that measures within the state of emergency will include closure of schools and kindergartens, while hospitals will be secured by the army. Vucic said that foreigners won’t be allowed to enter Serbia, while all returnees will be quarantined no matter where they are from. All arriving Serbian citizens will be quarantined for at least 14 days, while those from infection hotbeds for 28 days. According to the president, “the only ones allowed will be Chinese doctors” who were asked to come to help treat patients in upcoming days.