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Belgrade Media Report 26 March 2020

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Thursday 26 March 2020

LOCAL PRESS

Vulin: US won in Kosovo (RTS)
Dacic: Modalities of health cooperation with Cuba (Tanjug/RTS)
Godfrey: US Embassy organizes flight to LA for US citizens and residents (FoNet/N1)
Fajon: Coronavirus not excuse for locking democracy, EU biggest donor to Serbia (Danas/Beta)
Total of 457 cases, seven die (RTS)
Nestorovic warns Valjevo could be under quarantine (TV Pink/N1/FoNet)
Transport Community Permanent Secretariat and CEFTA propose a set of measures for Western Balkans (Beta)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

B&H Presidency issues joint statement calling on citizens to respect measures and trust authorities (Dnevni avaz)
B&H CoM decision preventing foreign nationals from entering B&H being enforced (BHT1)
Quarantine for people entering B&H through border crossing Samac formed (ATV)
Croatia to close down small-border crossings with B&H (Dnevni avaz)
B&H has eight new cases, bringing the total to 185 (N1)
Local healthcare center in Sarajevo-based district closed after woman (52) died of consequences of COVID-19 infection on Tuesday (O kanal)
Olympic Hall in Sarajevo to serve as quarantine where patients with mild-symptoms of COVID-19 will be relocated from hospitals in FB&H if necessary (O kanal)
Solak: We are definitely evaluating stricter and more rigorous measures (BHT1)
Pavilions of student center ‘Nikola Tesla’ in Banja Luka to serve as quarantine center for people infected with COVID-19 (N1)
Koc: Solidarity and mutual assistance only way to be successful in this fight (Oslobodjenje)
Norway prepares financial assistance for B&H to help country in fight against coronavirus infection (O kanal)
Zvizdic, Covic write letter to EU officials asking for exemption of Western Balkans from restriction decision (Dnevni avaz)
Covic: Plenkovic promised that B&H will receive help from EU (Nezavisne)
Borrell: China aggressively pushes the message that, unlike US, it is a responsible and reliable partner (Dnevni list)
Croatia

Croatia reports 481 cases and the second coronavirus victim (Hina)
Quarantine in Murter and Betina, police not allowing anyone in or out (HRT)
Montenegro

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Montenegro rise to 67 (CDM)
Djukanovic: Montenegro and UAE together in fight against coronavirus (CDM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Dimitrov-Borell: Coordination, solidarity and channeling EU support to Western Balkans (MIA)
Twenty-four new coronavirus cases in North Macedonia, total cases 201 (MIA)
Albania

Albania’s leaders unite to cope with COVID-19 (ADN)
Number of Coronavirus infected in Albania increasing too fast (ADN)
COVID-19/71-year-old patient dies in infectious hospital, 6 deaths in Albania (Top channel)
Three field hospitals to be established (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

EU and US in opposite camps as Kosovo government toppled (EurActiv/AFP)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vulin: US won in Kosovo (RTS)

 

Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin commented for the morning news of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) the toppling of the government of Albin Kurti. According to him, it is obvious that at issue is a conflict between the Americans and the Germans. “Grenell’s bulldozer diplomacy seems to have carried the day. And after Kurti, usually Murti comes, so that as far as relations towards Serbia, I don’t expect a big change. Obviously, the US has won in Kosovo,” says Vulin.

 

Dacic: Modalities of health cooperation with Cuba (Tanjug/RTS)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic spoke on the phone with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla. The main topic of the talks was the pandemic of the COVID-19 infectious disease. The two ministers exchanged information on the measures which the two countries are taking to curb the spread of the disease and help those infected in the most efficient way.

Dacic and Parrilla also discussed modalities of cooperation in the field of health care and agreed to continue communication on this and other matters, with the purpose of efficient fight against COVID-19 as the greatest global challenge at the moment, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry.

 

Godfrey: US Embassy organizes flight to LA for US citizens and residents (FoNet/N1)

 

The US Embassy to Serbia has organized a charter flight for US citizens and permanent residents who want to return to the US from Serbia, the Embassy said on its Twitter account. US Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey tweeted that Americans in Serbia who want to return home should contact the embassy. “Attention Americans: if you are in Serbia and trying to find a way back to the U.S., my team has arranged a special charter flight that departs at noon on March 26 from Belgrade, destination Los Angeles. You must act fast and contact the Embassy immediately using info below!”, the ambassador wrote.

 

Fajon: Coronavirus not excuse for locking democracy, EU biggest donor to Serbia (Danas/Beta)

 

Tanja Fajon, a member of the European Parliament (EP) says the coronavirus pandemic must not be an excuse for ‘locking’ democracy and that governments must not be allowed to impose unlimited powers, adding the European Union has been the greatest donor to Serbia’s health care system with 200 million Euros in the last two decades. “Since many governments declared the state of emergency to fight a real threat from coronavirus efficiently it is necessary to monitor if that move is balanced and proportional,” Fajon, the chairwoman of the EP Delegation for relations with Serbia, told Danas. She said that Ylva Johannson, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, “warns that a complete shutting down of Serbia is a huge problem, especially for its citizens who should be allowed to return home safely.” “It is also necessary to protect the chain of supplies and allow travels to ‘basic workers’, as well as transport,” Fajon says.

She added it was clear that China was successful in limiting, even stopping the virus from spreading and “that’s why we’re warmly grateful for their (reciprocal) help, not only to Serbia but also to some EU member state.” Having in mind the current relations between Serbia and China, that aid is not surprising, Fajon says. “Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that the EU and its member states are still the biggest donors to Serbia and that Belgrade receives the most donations in the Western Balkans, Nearly 200 million Euro has been donated to Serbia to improve the health care system in the last two decades, while the amount of loans is even higher,” Fajon said.

 

Total of 457 cases, seven die (RTS)

 

According to the latest information, another 73 infected, a total of 457 cases have been confirmed in Serbia. Seven people died. From the latest report, the samples of 295 people were tested, 73 of which are positive and 222 negative to the new coronavirus. According to the latest information, the most infected cases are in Belgrade, Nis and Valjevo. Serbian President’s advisor Suzana Vasiljevic has stated that the doctors had stated there is still no need to close down these towns, but that this measure will be examined in the next 24 hours.

 

Nestorovic warns Valjevo could be under quarantine (TV Pink/N1/FoNet)

 

The doctor who laughingly told the Serbian public that the coronavirus was a “ridiculous virus” just two weeks ago on Wednesday warned that the city of Valjevo could be quarantined.

Pulmologist Branimir Nestorovic told TV Pink that Valjevo could be isolated because of an irresponsible group of 20 people who were infected and refused to stay at home. Valjevo ranks third after Belgrade and Nis with 38 coronavirus patients and another 400 in self-isolation even though it is small with no airport or major international roads. The local population believe that the first infection was at a company celebration which was attended by a businessman from Austria on February 29. An N1 local correspondent said that local priests tested positive after entertaining guests from Italy. There is also concern over the fact that five doctors tested positive while others are in self-isolation. “I understand that it’s hard for people to stay at home but they have to endure for a few weeks. This is the most dangerous time, we are ending the third and coming into the fourth week. We are starting a hard week for medical staff and that will be proved by the higher number of patients,” he said.

 

Transport Community Permanent Secretariat and CEFTA propose a set of measures for Western Balkans (Beta)

 

The Transport Community Permanent Secretariat and CEFTA Secretariat propose on March 25 a set of measures to support the Western Balkans partners but also the EU MS to cope with transport and trade challenges linked to the outbreak of the COVID-19 disease. The proposed approach is based on two pillars and two stages – First, the identification of a restricted

number of road priority border and common crossing points and key ports that should continue to operate in all circumstances. For all these connecting points, a series of measures is proposed to ease the work and cooperation between the different administrations involved. It also identifies a series of “green axes” linking the Western Balkan Six together on which free traffic

flow should be granted, together with a restricted number of gas stations, which may remain opened even in case of potential containment of the population. This point is essential to ensure that lorry drivers and trucks could continue to operate despite this degraded situation. In parallel, the European Commission released Communication on the implementation of the Green Lanes under the Guidelines for border management measures to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and essential services. The Commission tasked the Permanent Secretariat of the Transport Community to facilitate the coordination and implementation of measures between the EU and the Western Balkans Six countries.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

B&H Presidency issues joint statement calling on citizens to respect measures and trust authorities (Dnevni avaz)

 

Members of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic, Zeljko Komsic and Milorad Dodik conveyed a joint statement for B&H citizens concerning the increase in the number of COVID-19 infected persons in B&H. Daily carried the statement in which B&H Presidency first of all expressed condolence to families of people who already lost lives in the pandemic and they underlined that B&H is heading towards some difficult times as the COVID-19 epidemic in B&H has not yet reached its peak. They underlined that this extraordinary situation demands decisive measures, aimed at saving of people’s lives and health. At the same time, B&H Presidency noted, the authorities are undertaking steps to alleviate consequences on economy and they congratulated public officials (healthcare workers, police officers, soldiers, civil protection, etc.) on the huge efforts they are making to prevent spreading of the virus. However, they stressed that none of the measures will have any effect unless citizens demonstrate responsibility and abide by adopted measures, as this is the only way to win this fight. They thanked the citizens who are responsible, criticize those who are not and call on competent authorities to sanction the latter. In the end, B&H Presidency assured the citizens that all authority levels in B&H are doing their best to fight the pandemic and they called on citizens to trust the institutions and prescribed measures. “Let us save lives and health. Let us demonstrate responsibility, solidarity and unity, because this is a condition to overcome the challenge we are facing” ends B&H Presidency.

 

B&H CoM decision preventing foreign nationals from entering B&H being enforced (BHT1)

 

The decision of B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) forbidding the entrance of foreign nationals is being implemented as of Wednesday. Diplomats and persons engaged in medical care and civil protection are exempt from this decision. A decision for suspension of air traffic for passenger transport was also rendered (Note: not stated when). Advisor to the Director of Border Police Svevlad Hoffman said that air traffic for transport of passengers from the Sarajevo International Airport is to be suspended at 6,00 hours on Mach 30, in line with the decision of the B&H CoM. “Of course, this measure was necessary, even sooner, because of the conditions in the Sarajevo airport, which is of exceptionally small dimensions. An airplane lands with some 200 passengers who are then in an incredibly confined space which represents ideal conditions for spread of disease,” Hoffman warned. He stated that the Border Police cannot wait for this measure to be implemented. He called on executive bodies to be mindful of the fact that the B&H Border Police is over its capacity.

 

Quarantine for people entering B&H through border crossing Samac formed (ATV)

 

ATV reports that quarantine for accommodation of people entering B&H through the border crossing Samac was formed Wednesday in the facility of the B&H Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) in Samac. Quarantine in Samac has fifty beds. The facility in Samac was disinfected and doctors checked whether it meets the minimum requirements. The number of citizens entering B&H through Samac border crossing has been reduced, but the quarantine is nevertheless ready for them. Citizens of Republika Srpska (RS) entering B&H through Samac border crossing will be tested for coronavirus and their further journey will depend on the results. At the same time, transport will be ensured for travelers from the Federation of B&H. Head of the RS Headquarters for Emergency Situations Milan Novitovic said that people from the RS who test positive for COVID-19 will be sent to the RS quarantine, while those who test negative will be sent to their local communities. “As far as citizens of the Federation of B&H who find themselves here are concerned, the RS Ministry of Interior (MoI) will organize once in 24 hours a convoy for transport from the RS to the territory of the Federation of B&H,” Novitovic underlined.

Workers of Samac Healthcare Center will carry out supervision over the people in quarantine, and they will be assisted by colleagues from Modrica. Epidemiologist and Director of Samac Healthcare Center Jovan Zivkovic said that they will be working 24/7. “This mean that four teams will take turns here,” Zivkovic said.

 

Croatia to close down small-border crossings with B&H (Dnevni avaz)

 

Daily learns that as of today, Croatia will temporarily close down small- border crossings with B&H in order to establish efficient fight against COVID-19 pandemic. B&H Ministry of Foreign Affairs is informed about this decision and daily learns that this decision is acceptable to B&H, considering that there were already some suggestions and proposals for closing down of such border crossings.

 

B&H has eight new cases, bringing the total to 185 (N1)

 

Seven more people tested positive for COVID-19 in Republika Srpska (RS) and another coronavirus case was confirmed in Sarajevo, health authorities said on Thursday morning.

The Health Minister of RS, Alen Seranic, said that 75 people were tested in RS throughout the past 24 hours, with three men and four women testing positive. All of them were sent to self-isolation or quarantine. RS now has 121 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Meanwhile, the head of the Sarajevo University Clinical Centre, Sebija Izetbegovic, confirmed for N1 that another person in the Sarajevo Canton tested positive, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in B&H to 185.

 

Local healthcare center in Sarajevo-based district closed after woman (52) died of consequences of COVID-19 infection on Tuesday (O kanal)

 

The local healthcare center in the Sarajevo-based district of Hrasnica in Ilidza Municipality was closed on Wednesday after a woman (52) who lived in Hrasnica died of consequences of COVID-19 infection on Tuesday. Healthcare Center in Ilidza still works regularly, but twenty health workers were put in self-isolation and they will most likely get tested for COVID-19. The company in which the deceased woman worked was also closed on Wednesday. Certain media published an information according to which she asked to be tested for coronavirus infection at the local health center in Hrasnica on March 13 after she got first symptoms, but her request was rejected. Media also reported that the deceased patient has failed to provide accurate details on her epidemiological status. According to information, she was in contact with her daughter who recently returned from Italy.

 

Olympic Hall in Sarajevo to serve as quarantine where patients with mild-symptoms of COVID-19 will be relocated from hospitals in FB&H if necessary (O kanal)

 

Director of the Federation of B&H (FB&H) Civil Protection Administration Fahrudin Solak and the management of the ‘ZoI 84’ public company reached an agreement in Sarajevo on Wednesday that the ‘Zetra’ Olympic Hall in Sarajevo will serve as a quarantine where patients with mild-symptoms of COVID-19 will be relocated from hospitals in the FB&H if necessary. According to the press release ‘ZoI 84’ issued after the meeting, hopefully this quarantine will not be necessary but fast reaction and preparation can have a key role.

 

Solak: We are definitely evaluating stricter and more rigorous measures (BHT1)

 

Head of the FB&H Civil Protection Fahrudin Solak, asked whether new measures are to be expected, said: “We are definitely evaluating stricter and more rigorous measures”. He said that possible measures could be restriction of movement outside of place of residence, which would aim to prevent people from leaving certain areas. He emphasized that the worst situation was when people were not adhering to issued measures of self-isolation and that this was possibly a key problem, as the situation could not be monitored as much as needed. He said that possible quarantines for those breaching self-isolation measures could be set up either in tents or in improvised buildings.

 

Pavilions of student center ‘Nikola Tesla’ in Banja Luka to serve as quarantine center for people infected with COVID-19 (N1)

 

Student Center ‘Nikola Tesla’ in Banja Luka will be locations for accommodation of patients who do not have symptoms of the COVID-19, but they can infect others. The RS Emergency Situations Headquarters reached this decision, as the number of infected persons in the community decreased, but the number of infected persons within families increased. The pavilions have the capacity of around 700 beds. RS Minister of Health and Social Protection Alen Seranic visited the facilities on Wednesday and said that this is another phase of the fight against the COVID-19 and an attempt to protect those who are healthy from those who are positive to the Coronavirus, but who do not have any symptoms. Seranic said that ‘Djacki dom’ in Bijeljina will also be prepared for this purpose. He underlined: “In this way, we want to be more aggressive in terms of suppression of the Coronavirus in the RS”. Patients accommodated in the facilities will be under 24-hour-long supervision. Director of the Banja Luka Healthcare Center Nevena Todorovic told media that supervision will be carried out at least twice a day. Director of the Student Center ‘Nikola Tesla’ in Banja Luka Dragoslav Topic stated that first patients infected with the novel coronavirus started arriving to the Student Center on Wednesday afternoon. “They were all transported here by ambulances. Patients are feeling well so far. We readily welcomed the first patients. Part related to medical equipping of doctor’s office and laboratory was completed in the afternoon” Topic underlined. He underlined that there are floors specially designated for male and female patients. “We left the apartments for families with children. We already have such patients accommodated here,” Topic underlined.

 

Koc: Solidarity and mutual assistance only way to be successful in this fight (Oslobodjenje)

 

“In a time when entire world is fighting pandemic of virus, cooperation, solidarity and mutual assistance are the only way to succeed in this fight. Result of these efforts will be a joint and absolute success of all of us,” stated Turkish Ambassador to B&H Haldun Koc on the occasion of the aid that Turkey sent to B&H. The Ambassador stressed that in the spirit of this, as reflection of solidarity with B&H in difficult times, Turkey has secured assistance in a form of various medical equipment. “In these difficult days we have to continue to work in the spirit of unity and solidarity and within the framework of joint human values that are keeping us together and we have to literary follow all precaution measures that are undertaken,” said Ambassador Koc. The Ambassador also noted that with admiration and respect they watch how B&H citizens respect the taken measures, expressing hope that we will all together overcome these difficult times. Daily reminded that Turkey’s aid to Red Cross Society of B&H arrived on Tuesday via airplane. Article noted that Turkey sent masks, gloves and protection suits and the Red Cross Society will distribute this to entity organizations.

 

Norway prepares financial assistance for B&H to help country in fight against coronavirus infection (O kanal)

 

B&H Ambassador to Norway Nedim Makarevic confirmed that Norway is preparing the financial assistance for B&H to help the country in the fight against coronavirus infection. He said that he is in everyday contact with B&H citizens who live and work in Norway, reminding that none of them has been infected with COVID-19 so far although many of them are blocked and they cannot travel to B&H due to technical reasons and closed borders. According to Makarevic, these citizens should not worry as their visas will be extended. He added that there is also a problem with B&H citizens who usually live in Norway who are currently in B&H, because they are prevented from returning to Norway.

 

Zvizdic, Covic write letter to EU officials asking for exemption of Western Balkans from restriction decision (Dnevni avaz)

 

Speaker of B&H House of Representatives Denis Zvizdic and Speaker of B&H House of Peoples Dragan Covic sent on Wednesday a letter to President of the David Sassoli and President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen asking them to provide assistance to the Western Balkans in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic. Among other things, B&H officials appealed on European Union to exempt Western Balkans from the decision on restriction of export of medical equipment.

 

Covic: Plenkovic promised that B&H will receive help from EU (Nezavisne)

 

Speaker of the House of Peoples (HoP) of the parliament of B&H and HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic said on Wednesday that an agreement has been reached with Croatian authorities about centralized communication with regards to securing corridors and everything else related to exchange of goods, arrival of assistance and the needs of economy in B&H. Commenting on his meeting with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and speaker of Croatian parliament Gordan Jandrokovic, Covic said that he is glad Plenkovic accepted to have B&H included in about dozens of funds which are being established at the level of the EU, along with other countries in the region. Covic explained that since B&H does not have the status of the EU Candidate Country and has not started membership negotiations yet, the country could have been easily left without the assistance. Instead, according to Covic, B&H has been given promise that the country will be included in all funds related to healthcare and economy, “which is important, because one will need to start thinking more and more about economic and social measures while the competent institutions are dealing with healthcare sector”. Furthermore, Covic said that all assistance needs to be coordinated and distributed in a fair manner so that all healthcare institutions in the country are ready to deal with the coronavirus epidemic.

 

Borrell: China aggressively pushes the message that, unlike US, it is a responsible and reliable partner (Dnevni list)

 

EU High Representative Josep Borrell noted in his column that it is still unknown when the coronavirus pandemic will be over, but it is already obvious that the world will be quite different when this happens: “How much different – this will depend on choices we make today”. Borrell added that solidarity and readiness to make sacrifice for greater good are crucial because the virus can be defeated only by joint activities and cross-border cooperation, noting that the EU plays a crucial role in this. Borrell reminded that Europe sent lots of medicinal equipment to assist China in fight against coronavirus pandemic and now that it reduced its number of new cases of infection, China sends its own equipment and doctors to Europe. “China aggressively pushes the message that, unlike USA, it is a responsible and reliable partner,” Borrell said and added that the point for Europe is that the perception will change as the pandemic changes and everyone must be aware of the fact that there is also geo-political component, including fight for influence through spins and “policy of generosity”. Borrell also said that the EU will have to demonstrate that it too protects others and that solidarity is not just a phrase and reminded that the EU already launched joint activities related to procurement of medicinal equipment, joint economic incentives and necessary softening of rules on fiscal and state aid. Borrell noted that the EU also assists its member countries in consular efforts to bring their citizens back home from all over the world. “The global pandemic requires global solutions and the EU must be in the center of the fight”, Borrell said and added that he is in contact with partners from all over the world in order to assist in development of a coordinated international response. “We must work on radical expanding of international cooperation among scientists, economists and policy creators” Borrell said, adding that it is necessary to join resources in medical treatments and coming up with a vaccine. “This is time for solidarity and cooperation and not the time for shifting of blame which will not heal any infected person,” Borrell warned. Also, Brorell noted that Syrian refugee camps and African countries represent a great reason for concern and he added that healthcare systems there are weak and outbreak of coronavirus there would leave devastating consequences. Finally, Borrell said that the EU will have to defy critics and show in concrete ways that it is efficient and responsible in times of crisis.

 

Croatia reports 481 cases and the second coronavirus victim (Hina)

 

Croatia’s confirmed number of cases rose to 481 by Thursday morning, an increase of 63 cases, or 15 percent, from 418 reported 24 hours earlier. “If we compare this increase with the situation on Wednesday morning, we can see that we are still keeping the situation under control. The number of those infected is not growing at an exponential rate, which is very important,” Health Minister, Vili Beros, said at a regular morning briefing. The second coronavirus victim in Croatia died at the Dr. Fran Mihaljevic Hospital for Infectious Diseases on Thursday, Minister Beros confirmed. Yesterday it was confirmed that a person from Istria who passed away a week ago died of coronavirus. Since the outbreak started, Croatian crisis authorities hold two briefings every day with the latest updates, at 9 am and 4 pm. The figures for Croatia and neighboring countries are also tracked at a special dedicated website koronavirus.hr launched last week.

On Wednesday morning, 24 hours earlier, the caseload was at 418, and by Wednesday afternoon it rose to 442. Authorities reported that 3,958 lab tests have been made, including 566 tests on Wednesday alone. There are currently 14 people using ventilator machines to breathe – 8 in Zagreb, 3 in Osijek, and 1 each in Rijeka, Split and Dubrovnik. Only one death has been reported since the beginning of the outbreak. The head of the Fran Mihaljevic Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Alemka Markotic, said that the average age of patients on ventilators is 61. Most of them have underlying conditions, and one of them is in critical condition. The average age of patients in Croatia is 49 and more than 18,000 people are in self-isolation. In the healthcare system 19 medical specialists have so far tested positive for the coronavirus, said Krunoslav Capak, the head of the national public health service HZJZ. National police chief, Nikola Milina, said that two police officers had tested positive for the coronavirus, the first such case in law enforcement services. Milina did not specify where the officers concerned worked but added that 90 employees of the Interior Ministry have been placed in self-isolation. Interior Minister, Davor Bozinovic, thanked Croatians for largely complying with instructions and unprecedented restrictions brought on by the fight against the coronavirus epidemic.

“The message to citizens is – stay home, let that be your task – and we are here to do our best to keep everything under control,” Bozinovic said.

 

Quarantine in Murter and Betina, police not allowing anyone in or out (HRT)

 

“The island of Murter is a potential coronavirus infection hot spot. The towns of Murter and Betina, which are divided only by an administrative boundary, have been declared red zones in order to prevent potential spread,” said Anamarija Skoric for Croatian Television reporting live from Murter. The police blockade is blocking any movement in or out of the zone. Special passes are no longer valid, not even those for travelling to work. The National Civil Defense Headquarters has confirmed that it will approve every measure, including the most rigorous, requested by the local self-government, however epidemiologists must do their job. Until then Murter and Betina remain under blocked. Speaking at a news conference of the County Civil Defense Headquarters, County Prefect Goran Pauk said that as of Tuesday there have been no new cases of infection in the county and that of the 15 infected, four are in the infectious diseases ward at the hospital, one patient has been transferred to the Clinical Hospital center in Split, while the remainder are in house self-isolation.

 

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Montenegro rise to 67 (CDM)

 

Out of 44 samples analyzed yesterday, 14 were tested positive. Total number of infected persons in Montenegro is 67 now. Around 5.356 persons are under supervisory watch. “Positive cases have epidemic connection with previous cases” representatives of the Institute for Public Health said. Residents of Tuzi are officially quarantined and are forbidden to go out. Food and medicines are delivered and the country has sent help. President of the Municipality of Tuzi, Nik Djeljosaj, said that of anybody breached the ban on would be deprived of liberty.

“As you all know, movement inside our territory is prohibited. I would like first to thank residents of Malesija for respecting the orders, although we have some irresponsible individuals who are faced with criminal charges for defying the orders. Number of police officers doubled and anyone who tries to infringe rules will face criminal charges,” Djeljosaj said. DPS functionary, Nikola Gegaj, says that the situation in Tuzi is calm. “I am with my family in Tuzi and as far as I know, residents are at their homes and respect measures and recommendations,” Gegaj said. He urged the residents to stay at home. “They can address competent instances for whatever they need. This is one of the most difficult moments in our municipality. If we disobey, not only do we commit a criminal offence, but we also do something worse –we put our lives in danger. I am sure that we can come out of this like winners if we stay disciplined,” Gegaj said.

 

Djukanovic: Montenegro and UAE together in fight against coronavirus (CDM)

 

Montenegro- United Arab Emirates friendship is string even in the toughest challenges, said Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic. “Montenegro and UAE together in the fight against COVID19”, Djukanovic stated. Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, stated that he had talked with Djukanovic vie phone to discuss their joint fight against coronavirus. “In our phone conversation, Djukanovic and I discussed strengthening of bilateral cooperation and the latest COVID19 situation,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.

 

Dimitrov-Borell: Coordination, solidarity and channeling EU support to Western Balkans (MIA)

 

Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov spoke over the phone with the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on the EU’s General Affairs Council decision to open accession talks with North Macedonia. They hailed the decision by EU ministers to open accession negotiations for North Macedonia and Albania, particularly during this hard time. In this regard, they agreed and emphasized the need for international cooperation to effectively tackle this global challenge, Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in press statement. Dimitrov briefed Borell on challenges facing the country and on repatriation efforts of stranded citizens. They discussed the current intensive efforts on both sides to coordinate work to assist both European and Macedonian citizens on their repatriation and their protection against coronavirus. They discussed about the possibility to relocate existing EU programs in North Macedonia toward fighting coronavirus outbreak. Borell welcomed the decision by the government of North Macedonia to activate the EU civil protection mechanism, reads the press statement.

 

Twenty-four new coronavirus cases in North Macedonia, total cases 201 (MIA)

 

Twenty-four new patients tested positive for the coronavirus in North Macedonia over the past 24-hours, bringing the total number of cases until 12:00 to 201, the Health Ministry said Thursday. Of those, 15 new cases were registered in Skopje, four in Kumanovo, two in Debar, and one in Ohrid, Shtip, and Tetovo each. Thus far, COVID-19 cases have been registered in Skopje (123), Debar (43), Kumanovo (15), Shtip (8), Veles (3), Ohrid (3), Kavadarci (2), Prilep (2), Gostivar (1), and Tetovo (1). Two patients, who have tested negative on two control COVID-19 tests, have been released from the Clinic for Infectious Diseases. They are in good health and will continue treatment at home. Thus, three patients have been cured of the coronavirus in North Macedonia, while three have passed away, the Health Ministry said.

 

Albania’s leaders unite to cope with COVID-19 (ADN)

 

President of the Republic, Ilir Meta gathered on Wednesday the National Security Council, which focused in measures taken by the government to handle coronavirus situation in Albania. During this video conference they also discussed the measures taken to prevent the further spreading of Covid-19 and for coping with the economic situation brought by virus’s spread. Furthermore, measures taken for the return back home of Albanian citizens, who have been found by this situation outside their homeland’s territory were tackled. Subsequently, Prime Minister Edi Rama and the members of the government briefed on the measures taken and the scenarios that would have to be met depending on the situation. On the other hand, Speaker of the parliament, Gramoz Ruci expressed readiness on fulfillment of obligations by parliament in this situation and Chairman of Democratic Party (DP), Lulzim Basha conveyed Albanian Opposition’s viewpoints and suggestions to handle Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the meeting of the National Security Council was held in a very constructive and cooperative spirit. Its main purpose was to unify all human, medical and scientific energies and capacities to cope with full efficiency with this difficult situation for the protection of health of every citizen, the national economy, social peace and security. On his part, President Meta expressed the belief that in this spirit of unity, comprehensiveness and cooperation, the country will successfully handle this difficult situation not only for Albania, but for the whole world, in the best interest of every citizen of the Republic of Albania.

 

Number of Coronavirus infected in Albania increasing too fast (ADN)

 

Head of the Epidemiologic Intelligence Service, Eugena Tomini announced this Thursday that there are 28 new coronavirus cases in Albania, bringing the total number to 174.

104 COVID-19 tests were made only during the last 24 hours, meanwhile there are 1144 persons tested in total since coronavirus affected Albania. Until now, there are 6 victims caused by COVID-19, while 73 patients are being treated at Infectious Diseases Ward, 3 out of which in critical condition.

 

Geographical distribution of the infected:

  • Tirana 102 cases
  • Durresi 10 cases
  • Lushnja 4 cases
  • Elbasani 5 cases
  • Rrogozhina 2 cases
  • Fieri 18 cases
  • Kavaja 4 cases
  • Korca 11 cases
  • Vlora 5 cases
  • Shkodra 3 cases
  • Lezha 4 cases
  • Berati 1 case
  • Hasi 2 cases
  • Kruja 1 case
  • Tropoja 2 cases

    COVID-19/71-year-old patient dies in infectious hospital, 6 deaths in Albania (Top channel)

      

    Last night, a 71-year-old patient from Tirana, confirmed with COVID-19, admitted to the Infectious Disease Hospital, in intensive care, died. Despite the efforts of doctors, the 71-year-old hypertensive woman, hospitalized for 7 days at the Infectious Disease Hospital, failed to survive. The 71-year-old is the sixth victim affected by COVID-19 in Albania. The Ministry of Health expresses condolences to the family of the deceased and calls on the citizens once again to strictly respect the rules of social distancing and to call 127 if they have signs of illness.

    Three field hospitals to be established (ADN)

    The increasing number of infected people has forced Albanian institutions to look for alternative ways to cope with the influx. One of them is the establishment of three field hospitals in the suburbs of Tirana. This solution has been offered by the technical committee, which has argued that such facilities are even more controllable and far more unlikely to infect staff not directly linked to the Infectious Disease Hospital. According to the sources of the local media some outdated army units will be exploited for the establishment of these hospitals which will be put into operation in record time. Sources also said that these hospitals will be provided with all the necessary equipment whereas doctors who have registered as volunteers will be asked to serve there. These field hospitals are thought to offer treatment to patients who will not be in a critical situation. Even though the number of beds is currently unknown, the project is underway and is expected to be over in under two weeks.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

EU and US in opposite camps as Kosovo government toppled (EurActiv/AFP, 26 March 2020)

 

Kosovo’s government was toppled by a no-confidence vote Wednesday (25 March) less than two months after coming to power, plunging the unstable democracy into political uncertainty as it tries to halt the spread of coronavirus. The vote ends a brief and bumpy alliance between two former opposition parties who took power last month with a mandate to loosen the grip of an old guard that has held sway over Kosovo for more than a decade. The partnership quickly broke down with the junior partner in the coalition, the centre-right LDK, initiating the motion after weeks of tension with Prime Minister Albin Kurti, leader of the left-wing Vetevendosje party.

After nearly 12 hours of debate, 82 MPs in the 120-member assembly voted in favour of the motion of no confidence. President Hashim Thaçi, whose party lost in the last elections, now has the power to give Kurti — his political enemy — another chance to form a government or call a new poll. The tumult has outraged citizens who want their leaders to focus on combating the coronavirus, which has killed one person and infected at least 70 among the population of 1.8 million. Doctors warn that a swell of cases could overwhelm Kosovo’s underfunded and understaffed hospitals. Before the parliamentary session began, one citizen breached partial lockdown orders to raise a banner at the entrance that read: “The most dangerous pandemic in Kosovo is politics. Shame!” Unable to protest on the streets because of coronavirus restrictions on gatherings, Pristina residents have been clanging pots and pans every evening from their terraces in a show of anger over the political squabbling.

 

US pressure

The LDK announced their move after Kurti sacked one of their ministers last week, a final straw following weeks of concern that he was jeopardising Kosovo’s relationship with the US, its most important ally. Kurti, however, alleges that he is the victim of a plot by President Thaçi, a man who has kept himself at the centre of politics for over a decade. Speaking to the assembly ahead of the vote, Kurti accused Thaçi of dividing his coalition in a bid to regain power and finish a “secret” US-backed deal with Serbia that would involve border changes. Serbia still refuses to recognise the independence declared by Kosovo, a former province who broke away in a 1998-99 war. With EU-led talks between the neighbours going nowhere fast, a new US envoy appointed by President Donald Trump has recently been working with Thaçi to bring about a detente. For weeks Washington has been putting immense pressure on Kurti to drop a tariff on Serbian goods that is now the main obstacle to the negotiations. Even after the US suspended some $50 million in economic aid in anger, Kurti has agreed only to gradually lift measure, and has made clear he doesn’t want Thaçi in charge of talks with Serbia. The political chaos has revealed a growing divide between US and European policy in Kosovo. While the US ambassador welcomed debate over the no-confidence motion, France and Germany spoke out against it, urging “political unity” to combat the health crisis. On Twitter the European Parliament’s standing rapporteur on Kosovo, Viola von Cramon-Taubadel (Greens, Germany), criticised the US response. “How can you an ambassador be pleased to see a functional government tumbling in the #CoronaPandemic? Unbelievable. Irresponsible,” she wrote on Twitter.

 

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