Serbian government adopts new measures as COVID-19 response (Tanjug)
The Serbian government adopted on 22 March the latest decisions regarding the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 virus. The decision on the ban on movement has been modified and as of today the curfew will last from 17.00 to 05.00 the next day. The exception are Sundays, when citizens over the age of 65 can leave their homes from 03.00 to 08.00 to buy groceries. Leaving home after 17.00 and before 05.00 is possible exclusively for urgent medical reasons, with a work permit or a special authorization of the competent bodies. By a decision of the government, a certain amount of equipment has been sent to Republika Srpska, in line with the current abilities, as a support in the fight against the COVID-19 virus.
Brnabic thanks China on support in fight against COVID-19 (Tanjug/RTS)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic met on Sunday with a team of Chinese experts who arrived on Saturday night to Belgrade with a special flight from the People’s Republic of China.
They came to Serbia to share their experiences in combating COVID-19 and to say which measures have given the best results in China in preventing the spread of this infectious disease.
The meeting was also attended by Minister of Health Zlatibor Loncar and Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Serbia Chen Bo. Brnabic once again expressed her gratitude to the People’s Republic of China for the support, medical equipment and, most importantly, for the arrival of the team of medical experts who have been in Serbia since the previous night. Given that the COVID-19 virus is still under-researched, Brnabic stressed that the Chinese team of experts is the most valuable resource in combating the spread of the infection. The People’s Republic of China is a country that has confronted the COVID-19 virus in an exceptional way and we are extremely happy to have you here with us. There are currently no people in the world who know more about this infectious disease and whose experiences will be more useful to us, who are currently fighting the battle with the coronavirus. Thank you very much once again for being with us, she underlined. Medical experts from China then attended a session of the Crisis Response Team to Curb Infectious Disease COVID-19, chaired by Prime Minister Brnabic and composed of other ministers in the Serbian government and a team of Serbian doctors and epidemiologists who will benefit immensely from the experience of their colleagues from the People’s Republic of China. At the meeting it was reiterated that isolation and self-isolation measures are crucial and the most effective means of combating the spread of the COVID-19 infection. It was agreed that Chinese experts assist our epidemiologists in monitoring the situation and adopting new measures to protect the citizens of Serbia to the greatest extent possible from the infectious disease caused by the COVID-19 virus.
Loncar: Chinese experts propose first set of new measures to combat COVID-19 (RTS)
Serbian Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar said that Chinese experts estimate that the situation in our country when it comes to the spread of coronavirus infection should stabilize in 29 days provided that everyone starts adhering to all measures from today. Loncar said in a statement to Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) that the first reactions of a group of Chinese experts who came to Serbia to help combat the coronavirus were satisfactory regarding the measures taken by our country. The Chinese experts have just arrived and are getting familiar with our situation. This afternoon they will come out with the first set of new measures that have proven to be effective in China, the Minister said. The condition that we get into a situation where the number of infected people is not increasing is that no measures are violated as of today. It would take us 29 days. It is their first assessment, which can be changed, and we hope that today we will have some new proposal and a set of measures, Loncar pointed out.
Dodik: Gratefulness to Serbia for readiness to assist RS and B&H (Tanjug/RTV)
The Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik has stated today that Serbia is prepared to assist Republika Srpska (RS) and B&H in basic food stuffs, medicaments and medical equipment for combatting the coronavirus. “I am grateful to President Vucic, with whom I had the opportunity today to discuss various modalities of cooperation and assistance that is necessary to RS and B&H, in order to face and sanitate the problems in regard to the coronavirus,” said Dodik. Vucic and Dodik met in Villa Bokeljka in Belgrade, and in accordance with the virus protection measures, greeted each other with elbows; both officials and their associates wore masks during the meeting.
Vucic meets with Orban in Budapest (Beta)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met in Budapest on 22 March with Hungarian Prime
Minister Viktor Orban to discuss bilateral relations, cooperation and solidarity in the struggle against the Coronavirus, as well as plans to support the economic development of the two states once the pandemic is over. The Serbian Presidency reported that Vucic and Orban, together with Serbian Finance Minister Sinisa Mali and Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, also discussed the on-going migrant crisis and Serbia’s EU accession process. “The two states are working intensely on plans for cooperation on removing the economic consequences of the pandemic, given the vast potential for and progress in bilateral economic ties in the past period,” the Presidency said in a release. Vucic also “asked Orban to, as a great friend of Serbia, support a fast-tracked accession to the EU assistance programs for fighting the Coronavirus and eliminating the economic consequences of the pandemic for Serbia and the
Borrell: Lajcak will do an excellent job mediating Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (Beta)
Slovak diplomat Miroslav Lajcak will do “an excellent job” as the EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, EU High Representative Josep Borrell, wrote on social media on Saturday. “Miroslav Lajcak is a very respected politician and experienced diplomat, who enjoys full trust throughout the EU. I am sure he will be doing an excellent job as EU Special Representative, helping to relaunch the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue,” Borrell wrote on Twitter.
Another 27 cases of coronavirus in Serbia, a total of 249 (RTS/N1)
The Serbian health care system has registered a total of 249 coronavirus cases up to 3:00 pm on Monday. The daily bulletin said that 61 people had been tested in the previous 24 hours, 27 of them who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. It added that 19 of the newly-detected cases were hospitalized in generally stable condition while eight were put into isolation in their homes. The Torlak Institute laboratory tested a total of 822 people suspected of exhibiting coronavirus symptoms so far.
Dzaferovic takes over chairmanship over B&H Presidency (N1)
Bosniak member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic took over chairmanship over the B&H Presidency. He will perform this duty for the next eight months, in accordance with the rotation principle of B&H Presidency members. Dzaferovic urged B&H citizens who are abroad not to return to B&H unless it is necessary. He stressed that everyone needs to undertake all measures in order to fight off the coronavirus epidemic as good as possible. Dzaferovic noted that he had very different plans for his chairmanship over B&H Presidency. “I intended to completely focus on issues of our EU and NATO path, as well as implementation of recommendations of the European Commission related to B&H’s application for EU membership and the program of reforms related to our NATO path,” he said. He added that this will still be his plan, with fight against the coronavirus pandemic will be his main priority. Dzaferovic added that B&H can expect help from other countries in the world. “However, the main thing now is that we get better organized and that we use the available resources in the best possible way in order to protect the health and lives of citizens and the economy of this country. Of course, any assistance coming from outside B&H will be appreciated and we can expect it from Europe as well as from our friends from around the world. All three B&H Presidency members are doing everything to use our contacts in the world to make sure that the assistance is available as soon as possible,” said Dzaferovic. He concluded that the recently held special session of B&H Presidency proved that “we can and we must always be there for each other and respond together to difficult and dangerous challenges”.
Total number of infected patients with the new coronavirus in B&H is now 128 (N1)
The Mayor of B&H Brcko District and Crisis Staff Commander Sinisa Milic announced Monday that two new COVID.19 cases were confirmed in the District. With these two cases, the total number of infected patients with the new coronavirus in B&H is now 128. The number of COVID-19 cases in B&H has rapidly increased throughout the past week and the country saw its first coronavirus-related death on Saturday. An elderly lady who had chronic health issues passed away before she even got her test results back from the Sarajevo University Clinical Centre. Addressing a press conference, RS Minister of Healthcare and Social Protection Alen Seranic said that 31 newly discovered patients, who are mostly middle-aged, include 19 men and 12 women, four come from Laktasi, three from Knezevo and one each from Modrica, Prnjavor and Kozarska Dubica.
Curfew from 1800 hrs. to 0500 hrs. in force as of Sunday (FTV/ATV)
The curfew is in force in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina as of Sunday, every day during the period from 1800 hrs. to 0500 hrs. The order applies to everyone except for those who are in charge of implementing the actions and measures in the state of disaster caused by the new coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Shift workers are exempted as well. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Ministry of Healthcare Crisis Headquarters Goran Cerkez assessed that every restrictive measure contributes to better results in the fight against COVID-19. He reminded that the restrictive scenario in China made it possible for the country to win this situation within three months, while an entirely opposite scenario is evident in Italy that has already registered so many death cases. Cerkez said that he expects that even more restrictive measures will be introduced in the upcoming period, including total isolation at home so that everyone can wait for this situation to be over. “Social contacts should be reduced to a minimum,” he explained. As of 8 p.m. on Saturday evening, a police curfew has begun in RS and last until 5 a.m., every day. The decision was made by the RS Emergency Situations Headquarters, based on the recommendations of the RS officials. During the police curfew, all citizens will be forbidden from going outside, while people older than 65 are forbidden to go outside altogether. The measure aims to protect people and prevent further spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). It will be in effect until March 30, confirmed Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik. Dodik told ATV that there were many examples of irresponsible behavior, where people ignored the measures and recommendations and organized large gatherings and events, thus putting all those people in danger of contracting and spreading the virus. “This measure is necessary. It will last until there is a need for such a thing. The second measure is that people older than 65 are completely forbidden from going outside” he elaborated. Dodik said elderly people should even isolate themselves from other people in their household, so that they are completely protected from the virus. “Any contact must be maintained with strict respect to protective measures,” he said. Dodik said all those that violate the police curfew and measures will be fined. “This is not a game,” Dodik warns. RS Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic told members of the press that people excluded from the police curfew are: doctors and medical staff; people in need of serious medical assistance; members of the RS MoI and other members of police forces; people that have a written permission from their employer on the need to be outside during the curfew; while religious leaders are asked to adjust their religious obligations and services to the adopted measures. Commenting the B&H nationals that live and work abroad, Dodik said that B&H cannot close its borders as there are many people that are ready to return to B&H. Most of them were fired due to the coronavirus situation and cannot pay rent in the foreign countries. Dodik underlined that they will be allowed to return but they will be kept in mandatory isolation upon their arrival. The Civil Protection Administration Headquarters of the Herzegovina Neretva Canton (HNC) ordered suspension of public road and rail transport of passengers. Taxi drivers are exempted from the order, while authorities also ordered suspension of work in the trade sector. The public transport in the Sarajevo Canton (SC) was suspended on Friday midnight. Taxi drivers are exempted from the order, but they will work under certain conditions; they will have to wear masks, glasses and gloves and after each ride, they will have to disinfect their vehicles. Authorities in the SC banned work of shopping malls and catering facilities in the SC. Thus, only pharmacies, trade shops that sell basic groceries and food delivery facilities kept on working. The Bijeljina Crisis Situations Headquarters made a decision on Friday to close down all kindergartens in this city, as one of the most recent cases of the coronavirus in Bijeljina was confirmed to be a small child that attended a local kindergarten. Public transportation company ‘Zeljeznice RS’ (RS Railways) stated that as of 22 March they will completely suspend local passenger transportation with goal to prevent spreading of the coronavirus.
B&H AF set tents up at border crossings (ATV)
Members of the B&H Armed Forces set up tents at all locations of the border crossings that were chosen for this purpose. The tents will serve as quarantines for people who want to enter B&H, with the aim of preventing the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19. The tents have the capacities for 1,000 people – 200 at the border crossing Gradiska, 100 at the border crossings Izacic, Bijaca and Brod each, 50 at the border crossings Raca, Sepak and Vardiste each and 20 at the border crossing Klobuk. Everyone who decides to return to B&H from other countries will have to be quarantined in the tents for 14 days. B&H Minister of Security and Head of the B&H Coordination Body for Protection and Rescue Fahrudin Radoncic held a video-conference with the directors and heads of the security agencies on Friday. They discussed the police activities in the fight against the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19, which are primarily aimed at monitoring the persons who were ordered into self-isolation, as well as monitoring the movement of migrants and relocating them from streets to reception centers. Radoncic said that the Ministry of Security with help of the UNPD will enable entities to purchase 50,000 Coronavirus tests. The B&H Presidency held an urgent session on Sunday. The Presidency convened to discuss border protection amidst the coronavirus pandemic. On this occasion, they requested the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) to immediately closes all border crossings for passengers, except for the border crossings where the B&H Armed Forces set up quarantine tents in line with the decision of the B&H Presidency. Chairman of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic said: “Quarantine has not been established until today, and this is being abused. Many have bypassed these border crossings entering into B&H freely. This is very dangerous, which is why the B&H Presidency convened this session and is demanding that the CoM does this without delay”.
Tuzla receives 50 new migrants’ daily; Migrants not being screened (BHT1)
Some 50 migrants enter the territory of Tuzla each day. This poses a great security risk to the City of Tuzla, as it attempts to contain the spread of the coronavirus. None of the migrants arriving to Tuzla undergo any screenings. Volunteer Senad Piric warned that no screenings are taking place, and that this was previously done by volunteers. Tuzla previously had an issue with migrants who were under the care of volunteers. However, they stopped taking care of migrants some 20 days ago, as they were incapable of taking care of 500 people. The migrants from Tuzla were then moved to the ‘Blazuj’ migrant reception center. However, Tuzla now faces new challenges each day. Spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior of the Tuzla Canton (TC) Amra Kapidzic said that police officers identify from 40 to 50 migrants daily. She stated that in line with new orders issued due to the current situation, they are not permitted to remain at public spaces and that the distribution of food has been ceased in line with municipal decisions. She stated that all migrants found on the TC territory are transferred to migrant centers. BHT1 argued that a 14-day quarantine has been ordered for anyone entering into B&H, however, that migrants are not subject to such orders, as nobody is monitoring them. Tuzla Mayor Jasmin Imamovic called on state, entity and cantonal levels to prohibit entrance of migrants into cities and municipalities in Federation of B&H, including Tuzla. He said that the office for registration should be moved to the border, hoping that the migrant wave can be stopped at the border. He warned that this is a serious risk of infection because this is a great number of people, and reminded that an order has been issued prohibiting gatherings of over five people. The Tuzla Crisis Headquarters called on the B&H Ministry of Security to act urgently regarding this matter.
Total of coronavirus infections in Croatia has grown to 306, 52 new cases; leaving place of residence prohibited (HRT)
Speaking at a news conference of the National Civil Defence Headquarters this morning, Minister of Health Vili Beros said that in relation to 4 pm yesterday, in Croatia 52 new cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed bringing the total up to 306. Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said that he will sign a decision to prohibit citizens from leaving their place of residence in Croatia. “The number of infected is growing and we expect further growth so these are necessary measures,” said Bozinovic. He added that people and jobs that will be exempt from the measure are: those are important for transport that is necessary for supply, daily migrations, the employed in important services for healthcare and veterinary protection, delivery of medicines, sanitary materials, maintaining utilities, water supply and sewage, provision of natural gas and electricity, informing the public, journalists, citizens that require urgent medical assistance, vital family reasons, travelling to work and from work if doing a job is absolutely necessary and can’t be done from home, as well as urgent operative services that are taking part in preventing spread of the disease. Bozinovic announced the possibility of ne stricter measures. “The health of people and preventing the spread of the disease are task number one and there will be no compromise in this,” said Bozinovic. Minister of Health Vili Beros said that following yesterday’s earthquake in Zagreb it was confirmed that the Jordanovac Lung Disease Clinic presents a certain risk and 36 patients have been transferred to the Rebro hospital. The same was done for patients from the Orthopedic Clinic on Salata. “A plane has landed with a second portion of valuable donations from the government of the United Arab Emirates,” said Beros.
The director of the Croatian Institute for Public Health, Krunoslav Capak said that the headquarters adopted a decision to raise the work of epidemiological services to the highest possible level – all epidemiologists in Croatia within the public healthcare system are on permanent standby. Interior Minister Bozinovic said that the headquarters is dealing with two crisis situations – the coronavirus and yesterday’s earthquake in Zagreb. 27 citizens were injured in the quake, 18 of them seriously, while of those 18 12 were kept in the hospital. “Unfortunately, the 14-year-old girl is still in critical condition,” added Bozinovic. “Damage is great, there are more than 250 damaged buildings,” said the Minister. He added that all citizens who could not sleep in their homes were quickly cared for. Bozinovic said that from yesterday at 6:24 am until this morning at 3 am, there were a total of 37 earthquakes, which is to be expected when the first earthquake measures 5.5 on the Richter scale. He emphasized that citizens should be cautious because the area is seismological active at this time.
Earthquake rocks Croatian capital (HRT)
With Croatia already suffering through the coronavirus pandemic, citizens were given a rude awakening on Sunday morning when an earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale shook the capital Zagreb. At 06:42 am on Sunday morning a 5.3 magnitude earthquake rocked the Croatian capital. The quake’s epicenter was just 9 kilometers to the south of the city. The quake was felt in neighboring countries Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary and Slovenia. A second smaller quake was registered just after 07:00. Scenes of damage to buildings are flooding in from throughout the city, as aftershocks continue. Among the buildings damaged is Zagreb’s cathedral, with the top of one of its two towers falling to the ground. Emergency services have begun assessing the damage, as many citizens have taken to the streets for fear of falling debris.
The European Commission said on Sunday that it is monitoring the situation and is ready to provide assistance to Croatia after the earthquake that left one person in critical condition, injured 14 more, and caused millions in damage in the capital Zagreb. European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen spoke by phone with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Sunday morning, informing the Croatian leader that the EU would stand by Croatia in this difficult time. “This morning I spoke with Prime Minister Plenkovic, who informed me of the severe earthquake in Zagreb. Difficult situation for Croatia: earthquake and coronavirus. Our thoughts are with Croatia. Be strong! The EU is with you!” – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “We are closely monitoring the situation on the ground in Croatia after the Zagreb earthquake. Our Emergency Response Coordination Center is in contact with the Croatian authorities. We are ready to help,” announced the European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic. In addition to the President Von der Leyen and her crisis commissioner, European Council President Charles Michel also came forward with expressions of support and a willingness to help.
Five more infected with coronavirus in Montenegro (RTCG)
The new corona virus has been confirmed on Sunday in five more cases, all related to the existing cases, reports the Institute of Public Health. There is now a total of 21 infected with the new coronavirus in Montenegro. The Institute said that they are closely monitoring the development of the epidemiological situation, which they will regularly inform the public about.
The first coronavirus victim in Montenegro, recently visited Serbia (RTCG)
The first death of a coronavirus has been confirmed in Montenegro. It is a 65-year-old man from Herceg Novi, according to a joint statement by the Institute of Public Health and the Clinical Center of Montenegro. Director of the Clinical Center Jevto Erakovic announced that the first death of a coronavirus was registered in Montenegro, and that it was a 65-year-old Z.P man who was admitted to the Clinical Center for Chronic Lung Disease Sunday night. The swab sample was taken after the patient’s arrival at the Clinical Center, and analyzes confirmed that the patient had COVID-19. It is stated that this citizen visited Serbia in the first half of this month.
Montenegro government ramped up its coronavirus measures (CDM)
The National Coordination Body for Communicable Diseases imposed new temporary measures to protect the citizens from further spread of the coronavirus: a ban on weddings, only close family should attend funerals during the coronavirus pandemic, ban on transporting more than two adults to the road – vehicle exempted: employee transport vehicles, media vehicles and ambulances. The decision, to be effective immediately. “We once again call on the citizens to adhere to all prescribed measures strictly and without exceptions, because it is in the interest of themselves, their families and the whole society,” the government urged.
Number of confirmed coronavirus cases rises to 114 (MIA)
On Sunday, 29 new cases of patients tested positive for the coronavirus in the country were registered overnight, the Health Ministry said. A 57-year-old woman from Kumanovo is the country’s first coronavirus fatality. After a postmortem, it was determined that she had been infected with the coronavirus. “Unfortunately, we recorded the first fatality from the coronavirus, which was diagnosed postmortem late Saturday. The patient was a 57-year-old woman. As regards the admission and treatment, I would like to say that the colleagues followed the isolation protocol, two test were conducted on time and the two initial tests were negative. Despite the negative findings, she was treated in isolation because the disease’s symptoms were coronavirus-like. She was hospitalized at the Kumanovo general hospital this past week. A smear was taken after she had been pronounced dead yesterday and it was positive,” Health Minister Venko Filipche told a news conference Sunday. Her son, he said, was also admitted to the hospital last week, only a couple of days after she was hospitalized.
Second coronavirus patient dies at Clinic for Infectious Diseases in North Macedonia (MIA)
A coronavirus patient has died at the Clinic for Infectious Diseases Sunday night, the Ministry of Health said in a press release. The patient was a 63-year-old man from Debar, whose condition had suddenly deteriorated. The man had been hospitalized at the Clinic for Infectious Diseases on 17 March. He had no fever, but respiratory distress and dependent on oxygen therapy. The patient had no history of comorbidity, the press release reads. This is the second coronavirus death in North Macedonia.
Filipce announced new measures to limit the movement of people over 65 and up to 18 years of age (Republika)
New, additional measures will be introduced to limit the movement of people over 65 and up to 18, Health Minister Venko Filipce announced at Sunday’s press conference that the Commission on Infectious Diseases will propose new measures to the government protect the risk groups.
“We have imposed restriction of the movement of all citizens from 9 pm to 6 am. New, additional measures will be proposed to protect the risk groups. Movement of people over 65 years of age, apart from the curfew, will be also restricted during the day, except in the morning. There will also be measures for those who are not at risk but who are spreading the virus, and those are young people up to 18 years of age,” Filipce said. The Minister once again urged all citizens to adhere to the measures and recommendations adopted by the government because that that is the only way to prevent the spread of the virus.
Army comes to aid in tackling coronacrisis (MIA)
The military has started Saturday to provide support to all state institutions in dealing with the coronavirus crisis, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Radmila Shekerinska. The army will focus on three goals, Shekerinska told a news conference Sunday. The first will be to completely take over control of securing the borders. The second will be to take part in mixed teams of police officers and soldiers, which will perform checks at townships’ exits and their entrances, especially in hardest-hit regions, as well as patrol certain areas. The third will be, during this period, to safeguard the security of vital locations, which have so far been guarded by the police. Minister Shekerinska was resolute that the army will be the first line of defense to stem the spread of the coronavirus and protect the health of citizens.
In response to a question whether all police officers will be removed from border crossings, she said that some of them would keep their jobs while others would be recalled, leaving the prevention of illegal entries into the country to the military. “This will make it possible for the police to pull some of its members out from our borders to concentrate on their responsibilities inside the country,” Shekerinska explained. In accordance with additional regulations, the defense minister said that teams of police officers and army members will make sure citizens obey the curfew as well as self-isolation measures. People found violating these restrictions will be fined and placed under mandatory state quarantine. Regarding vital locations, the army will from now on be responsible for guarding places such as the parliament, the government, as well as other important sites, such as prisons. “In a state of emergency,” Shekerinska said, “what’s important is to ensure that no one is worried whether the penal institutions are under control or not.” She added that soldiers will be helping the already trained prison guards by providing strong support in terms of equipment and peoplepower. Also, the army’s Roll 2 mobile hospital will be put completely at the disposal of the public and located near the Clinic for Infectious Diseases.
Sugareski: If necessary, intercity passenger transport will be banned (MIA)
Minister of Transport and Communications Goran Sugareski told Monday that if necessary, the passenger transport between cities and villages will be banned. “The government has adopted a measure to reduce the number of passengers in the intercity transport by 50% and people must stay at least two-meter apart. In line with Crisis HQ recommendations, the Ministry of Health and the government if necessary, will ban the passenger transport between cities and villages and this measure will additionally be adopted,” Sugareski said responding to journalist question at today’s press briefing in the government. He noted that at the moment, according to the measures in force, the only recommendation is reduction of the number of passengers in intercity transport.
Fifteen new coronavirus cases in Albania, total number 104 (Top channel)
Ministry of Health announced 15 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours in Albania, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 104.
Coronavirus situation in Albania worsens, 5 deaths (ADN)
Two more victims were reported by the Ministry of Health this Monday, bringing the number of deaths caused by COVID-19 in Albania to 5. The first victim of this Monday is a 43-year-old man from Kavaja who was in intensive therapy. Following the worsening of his health condition, he was helped with mechanical ventilator but he couldn’t make it. Meanwhile, the second victim of this Monday is a 61-year-old man from Tirana who also was in intensive care and despite the fact he was helped with mechanical ventilator he couldn’t survive. Furthermore, the man from Kavaja had no other illnesses, except obesity, while man from Tirana suffered from other illnesses. “The Ministry of Health expresses condolences to the family of the deceased and appeals once again to the citizens to strictly respect the rules of social distancing and to call 127 in case they have signs of illness,” announced the Ministry of Health.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Powerful earthquake puts Croatia in a coronavirus conundrum (The Week, 22 March 2020)
The Croatian capital Zagreb experienced its strongest earthquake in 140 years Sunday, when a 5.3-magnitude tremor was felt in the city and across the Western Balkans. Buildings were damaged, fires broke out, and multiple people were injured, including a teenager who is reportedly in critical condition, Al Jazeera reports. While the challenge of an earthquake on its own is difficult enough, Zagreb is also dealing — like the rest of the world — with the coronavirus pandemic, which left its citizens in a state of confusion and highlighted the fact that the outbreak doesn’t prevent other crises from arising and could indeed exacerbate seemingly unrelated problems. Initially, Croatia’s Interior Minister Davor Božinović told people to remain on the streets out of concern for any aftershocks, but keep a safe distance from each other to avoid any spread of the virus. Croatia currently has 206 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one death. “We have two parallel crises that contradict each other,” Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said. Božinović echoed Plenković, saying, “There are rules for when there is an earthquake, but when there is an earthquake at the same time when there is a global pandemic, then it’s a much more complex situation.”
EU Governments Reach Breakthrough Over Balkans Expansion Plan (Bloomberg News, by Jonathan Stearns, 23 March 2020)
European Union governments revived the membership hopes of North Macedonia and Albania by overcoming a French roadblock after months of deliberations, according to an EU official.
Envoys of the 27-nation EU recommended that the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, take the necessary step to trigger accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, the official said on the condition of anonymity. Clinched through several days of intensive behind-the-scenes exchanges while EU leaders grappled with the coronavirus pandemic, the diplomatic breakthrough on Monday in Brussels now goes to national governments for formal approval. Ministers are due to scrutinize the deal during a video conference on Tuesday. The EU wants to keep alive the prospect of North Macedonia and Albania joining to avoid political instability in a region still scarred by the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The bloc also wants to prevent a political vacuum that could play into the hands of Russia and China. Three other countries in the region have begun EU entry talks: Serbia in 2014, Montenegro in 2012 and Turkey in 2005. Last October, France blocked the EU’s goal of starting membership negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania during the first half of 2020, insisting on tougher scrutiny to ensure their respect for the rule of law. To address the French concerns, the Brussels-based commission in February proposed changes to the way the EU vets aspiring members by giving more weight to “fundamentals,” including the functioning of the judicial system and democratic institutions. The deal on Monday in the Belgian capital gives the commission the go-ahead to draw up a “negotiating framework” for North Macedonia and for Albania. The breakthrough came after the member-country diplomats scrapped the idea of fixing a June deadline for the commission to produce these documents, deciding instead on no specific timetable. The envoys also beefed up conditions for Albania before it can actually begin the entry talks.