Vucic: Within 3 to 4 days, the decision on a 24-hour curfew (TV Prva/B92)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic was hosted on TV show “Theme” on TV Prva. “If I said I feel good, I wouldn’t be completely honest, if I said I feel bad, I wouldn’t motivate people”, he answered at the beginning of the show when asked how he felt. “I am happy if I sometimes bring discomfort, in a situation like this, it is my job,” the President said, explaining that he had been given a role of “a bad cop.” He states that these days the police are begging people to go home after the curfew, explaining that there was already a crowd at Gazela yesterday, and that is why the police wrote penalties today. When they take pets for a walk, people gather and talk, President said, stating that the measure was abolished. In addition, it lists a number of risks that pets can take – from elevators to the banisters that may be infected. Still, he states that because of 8 to 10 percent of people who do not respect the measures, everyone else must comply with more restrictive measures. “Do you want justice or do you want to stay alive?”, he asked. “Any such stroll complicates the situation further. I know that most of them feel that they are strong, that they are not in danger, which is not far from the truth, but we must not take the risk, they must understand that”, Vucic said. He added that obese people belong also to a risk group, in addition to the elderly and people with chronic illnesses. Despite people’s opinion that measures are not democratic, Vucic believes that Serbia has a democratic society after all, but that what is and what is not democracy can be discussed for hours. “What democratic rights have you been denied, the right of free speech, the right to criticism? You are denied movement – that’s right. Sometimes I want to burst into tears for imposing that measure”, President stated. “I do not know if you understand how difficult the situation is, all the hospitals in Belgrade are almost full”, the President explains, stating that hospitals will be built in addition to the Belgrade Fair in the Sports Hall and in Pionir. “I don’t want to scare you, I am telling you what are the prospects, we are going with additional testing and that is why we have to build and buy beds,” he states. We were not ready to welcome 400.000 people to Serbia without damage, and from the moment the border was closed, we received this amount of people from abroad. “Nine soldiers who worked on Morovic have been infected”, Vucic said, saying that 642 people in the army were under isolation. “I don’t care about someone’s comfort for 14 or 28 days and 99% of them will be healed. Everyone who goes to the Belgrade Fair should be happy. I would love to go to the Fair,” Vucic said. As for freedom of movement, there is no country in Europe that has not been denied that right, he added. The patients with mild symptoms, those found to be positive to virus Covid-19, will be accommodated at the Fair. Vucic said on Sunday that when up to 4.500 citizens are tested, 1.000 people will be positive, and later more, and that at that moment both the Fair and Arena will be full, and these patients will have to be housed somewhere in one day. He also reiterated that it would be completely wrong to expect that such a scenario would not happen to Serbia. “I am realistic, I can see at what pace we are going and that is why it is extremely important for citizens to stay at home. It is not wrong to hope, but it is wrong to expect,” Vucic said. He says that Serbia now has enough tests for the coronavirus, that the problem were the laboratories, but that they were also being worked on, and stressed that it would be wrong to hope that Serbia would not experience a scenario in which more than 1.000 were infected on a daily basis. Vucic told TV Prva that 500 people would be tested tomorrow, up to 3.000 daily in seven days, and stressed that the tests were not a problem, but laboratories. “But we also managed to arrange it, as we now produce yeast ourselves … We try to produce as many things as possible by ourselves, so that we do not depend on others,” Vucic said. He stated that the agricultural laboratory in Batajnica now works like a charm. He says the best lab, donated by China, will be completed on 8 or 9 April, when Serbia will reach the peak of the crisis and when the situation is the worst. When asked how a month ago the tone was optimistic, while today it is so pessimistic, president states that he understands the political need to show that someone is guilty, explaining Dr Nestorovic’s optimistic tone. “In a situation like this, I have to say that I’m not interested in what someone says, but just what the doctors say,” he explains. “I will propose to the government a 24-hour curfew,” he said, adding, “No one will be able to get on the street. Ever.” Asked how people would go to the stores for the supplies, he replies, “The same as the pensioners don’t go now,” but also added that he doesn’t know how it would really work.
Vucic emphasized that if the 24-hour curfew were introduced, it would be tightly controlled – whoever was on the street would be penalized. The minority of the irresponsible endangers those responsible, according to Vucic, and that is why all measures have been introduced. Doctors believe we need complete isolation, but prior to the introduction of additional measures, we await the advice of Chinese experts. However, with all these measures in place, if we were to be disciplined, we would come out of this situation in less than two months. The numbers, statistics and prospects are not so great, the President said, but refused to discuss numbers. The President stated that Serbia is on the European path, but that we are rational. “All of Europe accused me of welcoming a Chinese plane,” he says. “I give myself the right to express Serbia’s opinion.”
China has helped us more at the moment, but much help from the European Union is also awaited. He estimates that in the future the highest number of infected persons will be in Belgrade and that of the total number of infected persons in Serbia, 60 percent of them will be infected in Belgrade. Asked if Belgrade would close, he said that a curfew of 24 hours would be introduced if the situation did not improve and citizens did not comply with the measures. “Expect a decision in the next three or four days,” he added. “When all this goes by, many will show genuine respect to Serbia”, the President concluded.
Brnabic: State ready for more rigorous measures if necessary (TV Pink)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic again urged citizens to stay home and be disciplined, announcing that more rigorous measures would be introduced if necessary. Brnabic said in a statement to TV Pink that the state has done everything it could to date, warning that it is up to the citizens whether or not we would win the fight against the coronavirus. Our country is in the fourth week of the epidemic and is still on its feet, she noted, pointing out that we are about to enter the most difficult period. She said that as of today the laboratory in Batajnica is working, while the Veterinary Institute in Kraljevo is being prepared, which will do tests for COVID-19 in order to relieve Torlak. Serbia, she pointed out, has more ventilators per capita than other much more developed countries, noting that we managed to provide 480 more ventilators. According to her, the hospitals are well equipped, there are enough tests, capacities have been increased, and nine million masks have been provided to pharmacies for the needs of citizens.
For the past 24 hours, three people died, another 44 infected, a total of 785 cases (RTS)
Currently, there are 785 positive cases of coronavirus COVID-19 in Serbia. Until 30 March, the National reference laboratory of Torlak Institute tested 3084 people who fulfilled the criteria for testing (staying in the area of intensive transmission of virus and presence of symptoms of infection of the respiratory tract). Since the last report on 29 March at 15:00, 622 persons were tested, and 44 of them were positive. Valjevo Bishop Milutin (71) died overnight at the Dragisa Misovic Clinical Hospital Center in Belgrade where he was being treated, the kolubarske.rs portal reported. That hospital is one of several designated for the treatment of patients infected by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus who develop COVID-19. The second person reported to have died was an 81 year old woman hospitalized at the Infectious Diseases Clinic in the Vojvodina Clinical Hospital Center.
Joksimovic: Another 90 tons of medical equipment arrive at Belgrade airport (Tanjug)
The Serbian Ministry for EU Integration and the EU Delegation to Serbia announced on Sunday that a second cargo Boing 747 from Kerala, India, with 90 tons of medical protective equipment, landed at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport was purchased by Serbia to fight COVID-19.
The cost of transporting the equipment has been fully funded by the European Union as part of a €93 million announced package for Serbia, which provides both emergency and short and medium-term assistance in the fight against COVID-19. Serbian Minister for EU Integration Jadranka Joksimovic stressed that the whole world today faces an unprecedented challenge, while the uncontrolled spread of contagion is a threat to all of humanity. Our success in the fight against the pandemic, she emphasized, depends on our actions, but also on the willingness of our international partners to assist us in this. Therefore, I am very grateful to the EU, China, Norway, Switzerland and UN agencies that have shown solidarity with Serbia at this difficult time and have made available their capacities to help us in our joint struggle to halt the potential consequences for the health of our citizens and our economy, she said. The Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Ambassador Sem Fabrizi said that Europe is struggling in a very difficult situation, that thousands of people are infected, and thousands die every day. In difficult times we have to stick together. We see great movements of solidarity across the continent, making our hearts full. That solidarity, of course, also encompasses Serbia, Fabrizi said.
Godfrey: Washington sending aid to Serbia (Beta)
US Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey said on Friday that Serbia will get some of the money pledged by Washington as aid to pay for urgent medical needs for countries fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking in a Facebook video post, the ambassador said that the Serbian government has drawn up a list of what the country needs to protect the most vulnerable parts of its population. He recalled that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US administration would earmark $274 million for aid to 64 countries facing the pandemic. “I am pleased to say that some of that money will come to Serbia,” he said, specifying that the US will provide the aid in cooperation with the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
First part of aid from UAE arrives (Tanjug)
An airplane from Abu Dhabi, with medical and protective equipment from the United Arab Emirates to Serbia, arrived in Belgrade. It is the first part of a donation from the UAE.
A total of 10 tons of equipment is delivered: 13,750 protective suits, 15,000 hospital suits, 500,000 gloves, 30,000 shoe protectors, 20,000 masks and 6,000 sanitizers. Ventilators will arrive in the next tour. The aid from the UAE was agreed a few days ago after talks between President Aleksandar Vucic and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, the UAE Crown Prince.
So far 741 cases of coronavirus infection registered in Serbia (RTS)
Deputy Director of the Institute “Dr Milan Jovanovic Batut” Darija Kisic Tepavcevic announced on Sunday that there are 741 cases of coronavirus infection registered in Serbia so far, with three new fatal cases registered. She said that 376 samples were tested since the last survey, of which 82 were positive and 294 were negative for the novel coronavirus. She stated that a total of 2,462 persons were tested in the national reference laboratory of the Torlak Institute, which meet the case definition criteria. In the last 24 hours, three fatalities have been registered, which are related to COVID-19, said Kisic Tepavcevic, specifying that a 62-year-old patient died in the Clinical Centre of Vojvodina and two women aged 86 and 82 in Clinical Hospital Centre Dr Dragisa Misovic, who had associated chronic diseases. According to her, at the moment there are 55 people using the ventilator, and that the zero patient in Serbia was cured, and that more than 50 patients had a double negative test. Epidemiologist Predrag Kon estimated that the hospital at the Fairgrounds is absolutely the best solution Serbia could make, stating that everything else would be a serious mistake. Asked by journalists whether the profession is asked about the measures to be taken against coronavirus, he said that experts recommended the measures, and that the authorities make the decisions. He also said that the government deserves praise for unreserved support for the profession. This is a challenge for all of us, this is a state of war, he emphasized, saying that the situation must be taken very seriously and that all measures against the spread of the virus must be respected. Concerning other measures, Kon pointed out that the profession would be behind everything that entails reducing contacts, including 24-hour absolute closure, as we are approaching the days when the number of patients, and later the number of deaths, rose sharply in other countries. At the same time, Kon said that out of the total number of coronavirus patients, about seven percent were medical professionals, making it very important that they have sufficient protective equipment and that it is properly used. Doctors were given medical equipment and it was a priority, he confirmed, adding that in some cases it turned out that healthcare workers had contracted the virus outside the hospital, and that there was no case of transmission from the healthcare worker to the patient.
Djilas’ open letter to Vucic (Beta)
Serbia is functioning today only owing to the people who live in Serbia, not those in power, Party of Freedom and Justice leader Dragan Djilas said in an open letter to President Aleksandar Vucic on 28 March. “Serbia is functioning today not because of you and your press conferences, but the people that this country has. It is functioning thanks to medical professionals, nurses, technicians, doctors, people working in retail, pharmacists, bakers, drivers and everyone who wakes up every morning to go to work not thinking of themselves,” Djilas said in the letter.
He added that no one’s stay in or coming to power could be more valuable than human lives, and that faster, more transparent and concrete action was necessary. According to Djilas, the government was long overdue applying economic measures to prevent citizens from becoming welfare cases overnight, because economy the economy couldn’t wait.
RS parliament declares state of emergency due to Coronavirus pandemic (BHT1)
The Republika Srpska (RS) parliament declared a state of emergency due to the Coronavirus pandemic at a special session held in Banja Luka on Saturday. Thus, the RS parliament transferred its competences to RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic who will be authorized to adopt decisions in cooperation with the RS government and with the signature of speaker of the RS parliament Nedeljko Cubrilovic. The reporter noted that no one can answer how long the state of emergency will last because the RS Constitution did not specified duration, adding that most likely, experts will make a decision on this issue. Secretary General of the RS government and lawyer Sinisa Karan explained that the authorities now have two goals: to save lives and health of people and to save the economy. Member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik also attended the session and said that it is important that citizens know that this is not an attack on their freedom. Dodik said that that on the contrary, some citizens like pensioners can expect good news as they may exercise their right to freedom of movement for two hours during the day and during that time, others will be prohibited from exercising the same right. Dodik said that the aim of introduction of the state of emergency is more efficient fight against the Coronavirus, as well as all negative consequences caused by the epidemic. RS President Cvijanovic explained that the state of emergency was introduced because they used all possible measures that were in force in the last couple of weeks, adding that this will enable interventions in the economy and underlined that this does not mean suspension of the RS parliament. Authorities are also considering the option to re-open some markets and commercial companies that are currently closed. According to the announcements, the curfew from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. remains in force. PDP representative Drasko Stanivukovic said that some explanations of the ruling authorities on reasons to introduce the state of emergency are valid, adding that they abstained from voting because the authorities – that took over higher competences – did not really know the first five steps that need to be done. SDS representative Nebojsa Vukanovic did not want to attend the session and in a statement given via video link, he said that declaration of the state of emergency was unnecessary. According to Vukanovic, declaration of the state of emergency was introduced to spread fear, make people obedient and suppress the basic human rights and freedoms. He underlined: “There are no other reasons for declaration of the state of emergency”.
Bosniak Caucus in RS CoP announces invoking of vital national interest in case of no compromise over declaration of state of emergency (BHT1)
The RS parliament adopted the decision to declare a state of emergency in the RS on Saturday. This decision was not enforced yet because the Bosniak Caucus in the RS Council of People (RS CoP) did not give their approval for this decision yet. The Bosniak Caucus announced they will invoke the mechanism of Vital National Interest on this decision. This was announced because the conclusions and amendments to the decision for the declaration of a state of emergency made by the Caucus ‘Together for B&H’ were not adopted. The Caucus requested the RS parliament to obligate the RS government not to ban movement through the inter-entity boundary line (IEBL) in order to continue the delivery of humanitarian help for returnee settlements. Deputy speaker of the RS CoP Mihnet Okic said that the RS CoP will convene on 4 April and the Bosniak Caucus will convene and invoke the mechanism of Vital National Interest. “The situation is complicated and we will propose harmonization regarding these conclusions in order to speed this up,” said Okic. MPs of the Caucus ‘Together for B&H’ said they do not oppose the declaration of a state of emergency, but they are concerned about the possibility of the RS Ministry of Interior (RS MoI) establishing control points at the IEBL in order to control the entrance of citizens from the Federation of B&H. RS parliament deputy speaker Milan Petkovic said that the decision on the declaration of the state of emergency was not supposed to be submitted to the RS CoP in the first place. He added that this is not defined in the RS Constitution and it allows for the RS parliament to declare it on its own. “This is not the vital national interest, this is the interest of all citizens of B&H and the interest regarding the state of emergency, and the fight is not just in B&H, but in the whole world,” said Petkovic. In case there is no compromise reached regarding the declaration of the state of emergency, the joint commission of the RS parliament and the RS CoP will convene, after which the Council for the Protection of the Vital National Interest of the RS Constitutional Court will convene as well. RS parliament speaker Nedeljko Cubrilovic said that introduction of the state of emergency is constitutional category, and that the President of the RS will be given somewhat bigger competences. He explained that decisions made by the President of the RS will be discussed and confirmed by the RS parliament as soon as it becomes possible to hold regular sessions of the RS parliament. Article also carried President of the RS Zeljka Cvijanovic saying that she will be working with other institutions of the RS, especially with the Government of the RS, and in consultations with Cubrilovic. She also underlined that decision on introduction of the state of emergency in the RS does not mean the suspension of the RS parliament.
Dodik: Bosniaks obviously want to obstruct decision on state of emergency in RS; Cvijanovic: Decision will be delayed due to the announcement by Bosniaks (ATV)
In a statement for ATV, Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said that the meeting of the Main Coordination Team in Banja Luka on Sunday was also dedicated to the decision on the state of emergency in RS. Dodik argued that Bosniaks who announced to invoke the vital national interest at the RS Council of Peoples (CoP) obviously want to obstruct the adoption of such decision. In his opinion, such move does not contribute to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. “They announced to invoke the vital national interest. Given the deadline of seven working days, it means that it will not be before the next Monday, which would reduce the effects of introducing this measure. One way or another, it is their decision. We think that it is unnecessary and that they are not contributing to the measures that would make it possible to confront this pandemic in the RS in an adequate way,” Dodik said. RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic stated that decision to declare state of emergency in the RS will be delayed due to the announcement by Bosniaks that they will invoke the mechanism of protection of vital interest. Cvijanovic estimated that the entire procedure will last ten days which, according to her, is a long period in the conditions of the coronavirus pandemic. Cvijanovic stressed that invoking the mechanism of protection of vital interest of Bosniaks against the decision to declare state of emergency in the RS represents a direct attack on the economy of the RS and has nothing to do with allegations that the RS wants to disrupt movement between the two entities. The RS President underlined that Bosniaks’ decision is a frivolous one and that this will cause a delay in adoption of all decisions necessary to assist the economy. “The parliament cannot work. Saturday’s session was a high risk gathering. It is enough to have only one infected individual there and that person can cause a mess and force the entire parliament to be in isolation,” Cvijanovic noted, adding that “these are no conditions for convening sessions, big meetings or gatherings.” Cvijanovic stressed that every minute counts, especially when it comes to healthcare workers and the healthcare sector in general, as well as businessmen. “Is it not normal for all of us now, without any kind of political topics and politicking, to find a model, and we have found it – state of emergency – so that we could intervene, solve certain dilemmas, but also introduce certain exemptions for employers who will then have more opportunities and more room to preserve jobs and their workers,” Cvijanovic said.
Inzko welcomes readiness of Cvijanovic to use emergency authority in interest of public health; US Embassy: We support authorities which are undertaking short-term, legal and appropriate measures in order to face the current pandemic (Oslobodjenje)
High Representative Valentin Inzko welcomed determination of RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic to use emergency authority in interest of public health. Inzko said that he agrees that halt of spreading of coronavirus and saving of lives of citizens must be the priority for all levels of authorities in B&H and he welcomed the intention of the RS authorities to use available mechanisms and he added that he encourages close cooperation with authorities of B&H and Federation of B&H. The US Embassy to B&H stated that they cannot comment on the contents of the decision of the RS authorities to declare the state of emergency because they still had no chance to read the text of the decision. “As we already said in past, we support authorities throughout B&H which are undertaking adequate short-term, legal and appropriate measures in order to face the current pandemic. At the same time, all efforts aimed at solving of this crisis must be transparent. Coordination with other bodies, especially those at the state level, must be the priority. All activities must be carried out with full respect of rule of law and rights of citizens,” the US Embassy noted.
Dodik: EU’s assistance should have been in form of respirators, medical equipment (ATV)
Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik commenting the procurement of medical equipment and respirators, said certain agreements are in place but nothing is a done deal. He noted that 7 million Euros assistance that will come from the EU would have been better if that donation was in form of respirators and other medical devices. He reminded that the EU closed its market for all countries, which made procurement of medicine from the Union impossible. On the other hand, Dodik points, that RS made an agreement with Serbia by which this country’s market was open for people in the RS and B&H. Dodik confirmed that Russia will aid the RS in this crisis and said he is maintaining constant communication with Russian authorities. He welcomed the Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices of B&H’s decision on allowing Russian medicine on B&H’s market. Dodik reminded Russian medicine have EU certificates and are sold on that market as well.
RS registers 38 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday (ATV)
Thirty-eight new cases of infection with the new coronavirus (COVID-19) were registered in RS on Sunday. Most of the newly infected persons – 29 of them – come from Banja Luka, which means that there are currently 135 infected persons in this city. More than 2,500 persons are under medical supervision or isolated, while nearly 1,000 persons stopped being under medical supervision after 14 days. Minister of Healthcare and Social Protection of the RS Alen Seranic said that the fight against coronavirus has entered the next phase, which includes active searching for virus within the community, instead of passively waiting for persons with certain symptoms to seek medical attention. He explained that offensive against coronavirus includes more active supervision over persons who tested positive for coronavirus, in order to avoid the appearance of family clusters – in other words, to prevent the cases of several coronavirus infections within the same family. The RS Minister of Healthcare and Social Protection explained that more active supervision has been also imposed against persons coming from abroad, as well as against those who are violating the isolation – and all of this with the ultimate goal of preventing creation of new clusters, and putting the existing ones under control. Seranic said that there are three parts of the strategy: the first one was to put borders under control, and he noted that the number of persons crossing the border and being placed under control has been significantly reduced. The second part of the strategy refers to controlling people within the community, which is why curfews and various limitations on movement have been imposed, and the third part is improving the capacities for diagnosing and treating COVID-19. Seranic underlined that the RS is ready to adapt measures to any possible change of the situation, adding that authorities in the RS are doing everything they can to avoid Italian or Spanish scenario, saying that currently it seems they might succeed – “but it is very difficult to predict anything”. The RS Minister of Healthcare and Social Protection said that the RS is focused on putting epidemic under control in the next 21 days, underlining that he expects the situation in the RS to become better within the next 21 days, when one will be able to talk about the “plateau of epidemic”. Furthermore, Seranic explained that it has not been established yet, at least not with absolute certainty, how coronavirus react to higher temperatures, and called on citizens to stay at home – or at least reduce the time they need to spend outside as much as possible. Over the past 24 hours, 108 citizens have been penalized in the RS for not respecting the ban on movement for persons over 65, as well as the ban on movement to all persons in public areas from 8.00 p.m. to 5.00 a.m., according to the Conclusion of the RS Headquarters for Emergency Situations.
B&H introducing new measures as number of patients rises to 353 (N1)
Eleven more coronavirus infections have been confirmed in Tuzla Canton, cantonal health authorities told N1, bringing the total number of the COVID-19 cases to 353. General manager of the Tuzla Clinical Centre, Vahid Jusufovic, said the number has grown rapidly over the past days from zero patients only three days ago. All patients are stable and ten have been hospitalized, he said. Of the total of 201 patients that have been confirmed Monday morning in RS, 11 have successfully recovered, health minister Alen Seranic confirmed. The authorities of Federation of B&H launched systematic disinfection of all settlements on its territory, as one in the series of measures to combat the coronavirus and prevent its dramatic spread, starting with the southern town Konjic, the most affected by the virus. So far, Konjic has 25 registered patients, followed by Tuzla (17) and Sarajevo (15). The whole entity, which makes a little over half of the country counts 139 virus infections. After the country moved to the daylight-saving time on Sunday, the authorities decided to extend the curfew hours and citizens are free to go out now between 5 am to 8 pm. However, wearing face masks and gloves is now mandatory in public. The other half of the country, RS region, has 200 COVID-19 patients with the city of Banja Luka as a hotspot counting 133 patients. Six persons passed away in the country as a consequence of the coronavirus infection, and eight recovered.
Federation of B&H Crisis HQ declares movement ban between 20:00 and 5:00 hours (BHT1)
The Federation of B&H Civil Protection Crisis HQ adopted new measures in order to prevent the spreading of the coronavirus. The Crisis HQ adopted the decision to ban the movement of citizens between 20:00 to 5:00 hours. During the time when the movement is not banned, citizens will have to respect hygienic and epidemiologic measures, including the wearing of protective masks and gloves. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina registered 124 cases of coronavirus infection until Sunday. Director of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Institute for Public Health Davor Pehar said that the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton (HNC) registered 44 cases, West Herzegovina Canton (WHC) registered 18 cases, Tuzla Canton (TC) registered 18 cases, Sarajevo Canton (SC) registered 17 cases, Zenica-Doboj Canton (ZDC) registered 10 cases, Una-Sana Canton (USC) registered eight cases, Bosnian-Podrinje Canton (BPC) registered six, Posavina (PC) and Central Bosnia Canton (CBC) registered one each. Canton 10 did not register any cases as of now. Pehar reminded that two cases of death were registered in Bihac, one in Konjic, one in Sarajevo and one in Grude.
Srebrenik Crisis HQ declares quarantine for settlement Srednja Spionica (BHT1)
The first case of coronavirus infection has been confirmed with one patient from Srebrenik on Sunday. The Srebrenik Civil Protection Crisis Headquarters decided to place the settlement Srednja Spionica under quarantine. It was also decided that the residents of Srednja Spionica will be delivered 460 protective masks and pairs of gloves and for the entire settlement to be disinfected. The Srebrenik HQ stated that the infected person from Srednja Spionica had numerous contacts with people in the past days and they expect a worsening of the situation in the upcoming days.
There are 77 new cases of coronavirus in Croatia, a total of 790 patients; Police are turning away all the vehicles trying to enter Zagreb (Hina)
At a press conference of the National Headquarters, Health Minister Vili Beros said that the number of infected people increased to 77 patients, with total of 790 patients. 6,404 tests were conducted. All together 6 have died and 27 are on the respirator, 64 were recovered. Meanwhile, the police are turning away all the vehicles trying to enter Zagreb unless they are occupants who have a valid pass permitting intercity travel. Police Chief Nikola Milina noted that only people working in those segments deemed to be necessary have received a pass for intercity travel, specifically emergency services. Milina added that there have been some reports of the distribution of forged passes, but said a new app is being developed to eliminate the problem. He reminded citizens that forging a pass is a criminal offence that foresees a prison sentence of a minimum of 6 months and up to five years. The police are also routinely checking on citizens who have been placed in self-isolation as well as reports of those breaking their quarantine. Milina noted that so far 928 people have been caught in breech of their self-isolation measures, expressing his dismay that people could behave so irresponsibly at a time of crisis. Milina concluded that currently there are five members of the police force that have tested positive for the coronavirus while 104 are in self-isolation.
Croatia receives 12.5 tons of medical equipment from China (Hina)
A China Eastern Airlines flight has arrived in Zagreb from Shanghai carrying 12.5 tons of medical equipment needed for the fight against the COVID-19 virus, said a statement from the Croatian government. This is the first flight from China in which equipment needed for the healthcare system and all services arrived. At the same time, with the arrival 10 tons of protective equipment from Shanghai to Frankfurt, the Croatian government has secured more than 20 tons of protective masks, protective suits and protective goggles. The equipment in Frankfurt should be delivered to Croatia said the statement. This is another example of quality cooperation between Croatia and China, which Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang discussed over the telephone on Friday. The two prime ministers discussed the further acquisition of protective equipment from China and a Chinese donation of protective equipment in conjunction with joint efforts in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, noted the statement by the Croatian government.
Dragan Vasiljkovic released from prison, expelled from Croatia (Hina)
The former Serb paramilitary commander, Dragan Vasiljkovic, also known as Captain Dragan, was released from prison on Saturday and expelled from Croatia after serving his war crimes sentence in full, Croatian authorities confirmed. Vasiljkovic was found guilty of torturing imprisoned Croatian policemen and soldiers in Knin and responsible for an attack on a police station in the town of Glina, which resulted in the death of one civilian and one journalist in July 1991. Vasiljkovic was escorted to the border with Serbia early Saturday and barred from the EU for a period of 20 years. Vasiljkovic, spent years fighting a legal battle to avoid extradition to Croatia from Australia. Australia extradited him in 2015. He was sentenced to 13 years for crimes committed in Knin and Glina during the Homeland War. The years he spent fighting extradition while in prison counted towards his sentence.
Montenegro asks NATO to provide medical equipment (CDM)
Montenegro has asked NATO to support its fight against coronavirus and provide over 5 million of masks, respirators and over 4.000 tests. In a request addressed on 27 March, Montenegro asks for 4.000 towels, 2.000 sheets, 1.000 beds with mattresses, as well as 150 beds and 140 stretchers. Montenegro also asked for more than 5 million of surgical masks and 537.080 masks for personal use, as well as N95/P2 and 500.000 N99/P3 masks. Apart from that, Montenegro asked for 11.030 pieces of hand sanitizers and 11.000 liters of 96% alcohol. It also asked for 3.433 non-contact thermometers, two defibrillators, 50 EKG device, 20 oxygen bottles and 20 respirators.
Six more test positive for coronavirus (CDM)
Another 6 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed. Total number of infected persons is now 91. “Out of 29 analyzed samples, 6 tested positive for coronavirus”, representatives of the Institute for Public Health reported. Municipalities of Tuzi and Podgorica count most cases (32 and 31, respectively). There are seven infected persons in Ulcinj, six in Andrijevica and Bar, four in Herceg Novi, three in Budva and one person in Tivat and Danilovgrad. Around 6.278 persons are under supervisory watch.
North Macedonia becomes NATO’s 30th ally (MIA)
The United States, as a treaty depositary, received the Republic of North Macedonia’s instrument of accession to the North Atlantic Treaty, making North Macedonia the 30th NATO Ally, said US Secretary of State Mile Pompeo on Friday in a statement. On 30 March, North Macedonia’s flag will fly over NATO headquarters for the first time, according to the statement. “As President Trump has said, the NATO Alliance has been the bulwark of international peace and security for over 70 years. North Macedonia’s accession to NATO today represents the culmination of many years of effort by the government and people of North Macedonia to join the North Atlantic Alliance,” Pompeo said. North Macedonia’s NATO membership, he added, will support greater integration, democratic reform, trade, security, and stability across the region. “North Macedonia’s accession also reaffirms to other aspirants that NATO’s door remains open to those countries willing and able to make the reforms necessary to meet NATO’s high standards, and to accept the responsibilities as well as benefits of membership.” “As NATO welcomes its 30th member, we reaffirm our commitment to collective defense under Article 5, the cornerstone of the Transatlantic Alliance,” said Pompeo according to a statement of the US Department of State. A flag-raising ceremony for North Macedonia will take place at NATO Headquarters on 30 March 2020, in the presence of the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, and the Chargé d’Affaires of the Delegation of North Macedonia to NATO Mr. Zoran Todorov. “Welcome to NATO, North Macedonia! It’s been a long road, but all your efforts have paid off. The formal accession process is now complete, and we are glad to have the 30th member of our Alliance with us”, tweeted Stoltenberg. European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen congratulated North Macedonia on formally joining NATO. “Congratulations to North Macedonia for joining NATO, a well-deserved step. Now, I look forward to working closely with North Macedonia during accession negotiations to join the EU, as Member States gave green light this week to start accession talks. Its future belongs in the EU,” she tweeted. The Greek Foreign Ministry in a post on Twitter congratulated North Macedonia for joining NATO, MIA reports from Athens. “We congratulate the Republic of North Macedonia that joins NATO as the 30th member of our alliance. We welcome our neighbors to the NATO family and look forward to working together as allies” the Ministry tweeted. SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras congratulated in a phone call SDSM leader Zoran Zaev for North Macedonia formally joining NATO and being approved to start EU negotiations, MIA’s Athens correspondent says citing a news item of the Greek news agency ANA-MPA. “Tsipras congratulated Zaev adding that nobody would believe them, Nikos Kotzias or Nikola Dimitrov, if they had said three years ago that all this would happen. That in an EU in a deep crisis where nationalism dominates, the message of stability, mutual respect and hope would come from the Balkans and from these countries’ progressive forces”, ANA-MPA reported citing SYRIZA sources.
Filipce: 26 new cases of coronavirus registered, 1 deceased, 9 patients cured (MIA)
There were 26 new cases of coronavirus registered in the country, a total of 285 diagnosed patients with coronavirus. One patient died and nine patients were cured and discharged from hospital treatment, Health Minister Venko Filipce posted on his Facebook account. A 79-year-old patient from Debar died at the Infectious Diseases and Febrile Clinic in Skopje this morning. The patient was diagnosed positive for Covid-19 on March 23 and with deteriorating health condition hospitalized at the Skopje clinic on March 25, Filipce wrote.
Mickoski: We are facing a disaster and the government acts as if they are not from around here (Republika)
While the opposition was calling for urgent economic measures, the Government seemed to inhabit a different reality and kept persuading the public that everything is fine, said VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski in a TV interview. He said that the meeting of party leaders held to discuss postponing the elections and the spreading epidemic did not result in serious decisions as the ruling SDSM party was disinterested. You notice their primitive know-it-all attitude which is extremely worrying at the moment. It’s like they don’t live in Macedonia, like they are not from around here. We are facing a disaster, Mickoski said. Through the interim Deputy Finance Minister who was nominated by VMRO-DPMNE Mickoski called for a meeting where he would present his economic proposals before the Government, and said that he offered two serious experts to sit on a body that would decide what steps should be taken. These proposals were rejected by SDSM. The Government and SDSM party leader Zoran Zaev are panicking as the budget projections show a shortfall of over 50 percent – more than two billion Euros. Mickoski accused the government of equally mishandling the response to the coronavirus.
“All praise to our heroes in the hospitals who are barehanded and tacking this epidemic, and to the police officers and the soldiers who are operating flawlessly. But on the part of the Government, the only person you can see day in and day out in the streets managing the situation is Interior Minister Nake Culev. And he has limited resources and is being undermined from within,” Mickoski said.
Eleven new COVID-19 cases reported by Ministry of Health (ADN)
Director of the Institute of Public Health, Albana Fico announced this Monday that coronavirus claimed another victim in Albania, while there are also 11 new infected, during last 24 hours. There are in total 223 infected persons in Albania and 11 victims. Furthermore, she informed that 74 persons are being treated at Infectious Diseases Ward, with 7 of them being in intensive therapy. “This morning a 79-year-old coronavirus patient from Tirana died at the Infectious Disease Hospital. The 79-year-old with the initials B.H. was hospitalized for 18 days in the infectious hospital. The elderly had improved in recent days but died of a heart attack. The 79-year-old is the 11th victim affected by COVID-19 in Albania. The Ministry of Health expresses condolences to the family of the deceased,” said Public Health Institute Director Albana Fico.
The geographical distribution of positive cases is as follows:
– Tirana 124 cases
– Durresi 14 cases
– Lushnja 4 cases
– Elbasan 5 cases
– Fieri 23 cases
– Kavaja 4 cases
– Rrogozhina 2 cases
– Korca 14 cases
– Vlora 5 cases
– Shkodra 7 cases
– Lezha 5 cases
– Berati 1 case
– Hasi 2 cases
– Kruja 5 cases
– Tropoja 4 cases
– Puka 3 cases
– Mirdita 1 case
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Turkey welcomes North Macedonia NATO membership (Daily Sabah, 29 March 2020)
Turkey on Saturday welcomed the accession of North Macedonia to NATO as the 30th member state of the bloc. “North Macedonia’s full membership to NATO is a significant step toward ensuring lasting stability and security in the Balkans. It is also an important step forward in increasing NATO’s capacity to defend universal values,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We are fully convinced that the deep-rooted ties of friendship and cooperation between Turkey and North Macedonia will be further strengthened with bonds of Alliance,” the ministry added. On Friday, North Macedonia became the 30th member of NATO. “North Macedonia is now part of the NATO family, a family of 30 nations and almost 1 billion people. A family based on the certainty that, no matter what challenges we face, we are all stronger and safer together,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement. North Macedonia’s flag will be raised alongside those of the other 29 member countries at NATO headquarters in Brussels and two other commands simultaneously on Monday. Given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic around the world, North Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski said “we cannot rejoice and mark the event as it should (be marked) … But, this is a historic success that after three decades of independence, finally confirms Macedonian security and guarantees our future. Congratulations to all of you! We deserve it!” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the country’s membership “will support greater integration, democratic reform, trade, security and stability across the region. North Macedonia’s accession also reaffirms to other aspirants that NATO’s door remains open to those countries willing and able to make the reforms necessary to meet NATO’s high standards, and to accept the responsibilities as well as benefits of membership.” It marks the end of a long quest for the former Yugoslav republic. Joining NATO and the European Union has been a priority for its leaders, but a dispute with neighboring Greece over the country’s name stalled progress for more than two decades.
North Macedonia was previously known as Macedonia, a name it shared with a Greek province. Under a 2017 deal with Athens, the country changed its name and Greece agreed to drop objections to its NATO and eventual EU membership. NATO, founded in 1949 to contain a military threat from the Soviet Union, relies on U.S. military superiority to face down a host of threats on Europe’s borders, including a resurgent, nuclear-armed Russia and militant attacks.
Joining the organization back in 1952, Turkey saw NATO membership as something that would make a positive contribution to the country’s economic, military and political development. Since then, Turkey has been a vital ally, providing NATO a connection to the East and control of Turkey’s straits.