Vucic announces opening: Stores starting Tuesday, cafes and restaurants in early May (TV Pink/B92)
If everything goes as it is today, the opening of stores and other facilities will begin soon, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced. As he explained, artisan shops, shoemakers, tailors, car mechanics, technical goods stores, construction materials shops will be open, except those in shopping malls. Other stores will be open on 27 April if they are sized less than 300 square feet. These also include hairdressing and beauty salons, gyms, but special protection will be required for them. Hotels, spas, shopping malls, intercity traffic, airports, restaurants and cafes are planned to open between 3 and 10 May. He also told TV Pink that factory workers should be ready to return to work from 4 or 11 May, as he says factories in the Czech Republic and Slovakia that need goods from Serbia are starting to work. Some who have a way of keeping social distance among workers may start as early as 27 April, he added. Of course, the condition for all of this is that the situation with the coronavirus is stabilized and that citizens comply with the prescribed measures, which will soon be mitigated. Vucic urged all construction workers to start working on civil and structural engineering constructions as of Tuesday. “To get started, we have a lot of projects, we will have works everywhere,” he said. “We are starting to work at full force in order to make investments to preserve our GDP, which the IMF has already said will be the largest in Europe,” says Vucic. “We will have the best economy in all of Europe at the end of this year and next,” adding that he expects the economic growth to reach nine percent next year. He added that all this will only be achieved if citizens remain disciplined. Speaking for TV Pink, the President confirmed that those over 65 would be allowed to move for 30 minutes each day from 6 pm to 1 am on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, and that if the situation is further improved, the authorities will allow senior citizens to walk half an hour each day starting from 27 April. Speaking about the state of the domestic economy, Vucic said that “people in EPS, Telecom, public companies do not have to worry … We will show our strength in the region and will buy different companies and businesses in the region”, he stressed.
Vulin: All Serbian soldiers on peacekeeping missions in good health (Beta)
Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said on Sunday that all members of the Army of Serbia, who are on peacekeeping missions around the world, are in good health. The Defense Ministry added that during his visit to the Army General Staff, Vulin emphasized that all soldiers in the Ground Security Zone are ready, capable, healthy and performing their duties.
SzS warns of alleged abuse of curfew passes (Beta)
The Alliance for Serbia (SzS) expressed allegations on Saturday that a “significant” number of local governments and Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) officials, as well as other ruling parties, were issued movement passes during curfew, and that most of them use it to “accomplish political tasks during the epidemic.” Such alleged examples of mass “abuses” became apparent ever since the weekend curfew was introduced. “Examples from several cities show that for people with membership cards, especially the officials and councilors, and people close to them, there is no curfew. The number of cars on the streets during the ‘total’ curfew also proves these claims,” SzS said. The SzS asked that movement passes “obtained for political reasons” be abolished and that individuals with passes make them clearly visible on their vehicles.
Kon: Serbia to start mitigating measures after Easter (FoNet)
Serbia is doing well in the fight against coronavirus, epidemiologist Predrag Kon said on Saturday, adding that there will certainly be some mitigation of measures after Easter.
During a press conference of Serbia’s pandemic Crisis Staff which is still being held without the presence of journalists, Kon recalled that nearly 3,500 people were tested in the past 24 hours, 304 of which were positive – which he said is an indication that the situation is gradually improving, and that he began thinking about mitigating some of the measures. “It should be noted that this is a great situation. If we compare real-time data per million or per 100,000 inhabitants – it should be compared with the data of the most developed countries in the world and there will be a time when we will analyze all this and have nothing to be ashamed of,” Kon said. The opinion of the expert team of doctors, he said, was that measures concerning those who had suffered the most in the previous month, the people over the age of 65 should be mitigated first. After Easter, they will be allowed to move on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, during the curfew, for half an hour within 600 meters from their building, or within 300 meters of the house, Kon noted.
Tiodorovic: Serbia close to gaining full control of COVID-19 spread (TV Prva/Beta)
Epidemiologist Branislav Tiodorovic said on 19 April that the expert part of the Crisis Headquarters for fighting the coronavirus epidemic in Serbia claims that Serbia is on the right track and is close to gaining full control over the situation created by the pandemic. He told TV Prva that at this moment it may well be said that the situation in Vojvodina and Belgrade is more favorable than in the central and southern Serbia. “This could have been expected because the disease began spreading in the south about a week after the epidemic erupted in the northern province and Belgrade and, partly, in central Serbia,” Tiodorovic also said. He added that in the Nis Clinical Center there are 200 less patients that in the previous days, and that during the night 63 patients were released from that hospital after testing negative for the virus. Tiodorovic pointed out that there are indications the vaccine against the virus may be produced by the end of the year, but that this is more likely to happen next year.
BETA: No questions for regular press conferences (Beta)
The Beta News Agency has not been sending any questions for the Crisis Headquarters’ regular press conferences for several days now. We will continue with this practice as long as the conditions under which the conferences are organized remain unchanged, i.e. until the possibility for the journalists to participate directly in them is ensured. Since the Crisis Headquarters is still the basic source of information on the state of affairs in the country, we will continue to carry the information announced at these conferences. As it is necessary for the citizens to be informed timely and accurately, however, we will also continue to use other channels for finding answers to the issues of public interest. We would also like to point out that in our view the Crisis Headquarters members are not the ones to decide which questions are “political” and which are not. It is common practice that journalists ask questions (and, which is especially important, sub-questions), while it is up to officials to answer them or not. The public is the one to ultimately judge whether it is in its interest to hear the answer or not. Since so far the journalists and media have been receiving only general and insufficient answers to their inquiries, we urge all media associations to help devise models that will enable the public to gain insight into the questions posed by the media to which no adequate answers are being given, as well as into the explanation of the reasons why such questions are actually being asked. Our basic goal is to inform the public of the events of public interest accurately, promptly and comprehensively, and this is now greatly hindered, as we have been deprived of the opportunity to pose sub-questions. This is why we must not allow for the officials’ statements to be reduced to bureaucratic formulations, as they frequently are, and from which the public cannot gain a clear insight into the matters it is interested in.
A total of 6,630 cases, 870 recovered (RTS)
Up until 3pm on 20 April, there have been another 312 cases, a total of 6,630 confirmed cases, and three more deaths, a total of 125 deaths. There are 3,867 people in hospitals, 108 patients on respirators and 870 have recovered.
B&H CEC adopts initiative for changes to Election Law in order to postpone local elections due to current epidemiological situation (Hayat)
The Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Central Election Commission (CEC) has adopted an initiative for changes to the Election Law of B&H due to the current epidemiological situation in the country. Representatives of the B&H CEC explained that the case is about minimum changes that would make it possible for this institution to adopt a decision to delay announcing and holding the local elections, so that related activities stipulated by the B&H Election Law do not have to be performed during the state of natural or other kind of disaster or during the state of emergency. “The initiative in question is based on the fact that we are facing a serious epidemiological situation in April, when the B&H CEC is supposed to perform the preparatory activities before announcing the elections, as well as the fact that the epidemiological situation is likely to continue in May. The B&H CEC reacted in a timely manner and responsibly, having in mind the deadlines for performing the election activities, some of which should start immediately after adoption of decision on announcing and holding elections, and that is already in May”, reads the statement issued by the B&H CEC. The initiative has been forwarded to the parliament of B&H. Commenting on the initiative of the B&H CEC, SBB B&H leader Fahrudin Radoncic assessed that the case is about a “political” decision and that one should not rush with decisions. “Let us survive first. It is too early for us to make decisions. We will be fighting for life or death for the next 60 days. How many citizens and lives can we save? Then we will make decisions on political issues,” Radoncic stressed. SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic said that there is a possibility that the elections will be postponed until the next year. He assessed that it is impossible to hold the elections in an adequate manner in these circumstances. SNSD leader Milorad Dodik argued that it is not up to the B&H CEC to postpone the elections. “The CEC is not a factor of an agreement here. Any kind of change to the Election Law usually requires political consensus among participants in elections in all countries. Nobody is holding any kind of talks here. There are attempts to impose something here. The CEC is neither legal nor legitimate, so it cannot participate in talks about this issue, in our opinion,” Dodik stressed. According to a press release of the Croat People’s Assembly (HNS), the local elections should be postponed if conditions do not allow announcing the elections within the legally stipulated deadline. “We called on all democratically elected representatives of the executive and legislative authorities of B&H to make legally founded decisions and to take a final political stance about this issue,” reads the press release. In accordance with the Election Law of B&H, local elections should be announced on 4 May and held on 4 October 2020.
Dzaferovic: EU should have named Dodik as main obstructionist of EU integration (Dnevni avaz)
Chairman of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic said that statements of member of the Presidency of B&H Milorad Dodik about the EU, Germany and The Netherlands are Dodik’s personal opinion and not official position of B&H. Dzaferovic said that B&H is in the process of the European integration and will remain to be so because it is reflection of will of the citizens. According to him, B&H’s interests are not in Euro-Asian but in the Euro-Atlantic integration, with the aim to join NATO. “It is absurd that Dodik belittles more than 80 million Euros of aid the EU is sending, whilst at the same time he glorifies a lot smaller aid of the Russian Federation,” said Dzaferovic. The Presidency Chairman further said that the EU’s key mistake in the last 10 years was that it did not have a braver and more resolute attitude towards Dodik, whom Dzaferovic labels as the main obstructionist of the stabilization and integration processes. In this context Dzaferovic says all EU reports stress that B&H institutions are not achieving the necessary progress, but they rarely make it clear who is at fault for the blockades.
Dodik says state of emergency in RS will not be easily lifted; behavior of EU deceitful as they failed to timely unblock export of medical material and equipment (RTRS)
Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said in an interview to RTRS on Saturday that the state of emergency in the RS due to COVID-19 epidemic will not be easily lifted. He stressed that the fight against COVID-19 epidemic is a joint fight of institutions and citizens, noting that the imposed measures refer to everyone and the RS Main Coordination Team is responsible for their adoption. Dodik explained that the RS Main Coordination Team will also need to demonstrate responsibility when it comes to the state of emergency and it will be necessary to think twice about when is the right time to lift it. He warned that although the RS and its citizens have demonstrated responsibility in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus infection, it is too early to declare victory. Dodik assessed that it will be possible to review the epidemiological situation as of 1 May. According to Dodik, the RS health system has the necessary medical equipment and resources at disposal, and the RS government has allocated BAM 60 million to modernize this sector. He reminded that the RS government also puts its focus on the economic recovery and funds for this purpose will be formed, adding that the fund for recovery of the health sector will be allocated BAM 100 million and BAM 50 million will be directed to the fund for local communities and companies. However, he stressed that part of the opposition still believes that the RS institutions are not doing their job despite these measures, assessing that politicizing in a time of COVID-19 crisis is intolerable, the same as criticism against health sector workers, police and inspectors that has discouraging effect. Dodik reminded that SDS and PDP were against declaring the state of emergency in the RS and that they requested the adoption of the budget of B&H, noting that his stance is that the budget should not be adopted because it will go to the detriment of the RS. According to Dodik, the behavior of the Federation of B&H that has lagged behind the RS when it comes to adoption of measures in the fight against the coronavirus infection was deceitful, the same as the behavior of the EU as they failed to timely unblock the export of medical material and equipment when it was needed the most.
Dodik: All we have from EU and NATO is silent occupation for handful of dollars (EuroBlic)
Serb member of the B&H Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik complimented authorities of the RS and Serbia for their adequate reaction to the pandemic and he argued that the EU failed the test of solidarity. “I cannot understand their decision not to sell medicinal equipment and materials to the Western Balkans countries. It is a big question how Europe will look like after this pandemic. Permanent dissatisfaction with their reaction, lack of solidarity, rejection of the Western Balkans and all of is here by the EU will stay. We have not seen a single good intention or will of them to assist us”, Dodik argued. Asked if he expects to see pressures be exerted on B&H and Serbia to become NATO members now that North Macedonia became a member of NATO, Dodik said that the RS will not change its stance on NATO. “They were destroying us with depleted uranium which will leave terrible biological consequences on generations of Serbs. No Serb must forget or forgive that. For as long as the RS is here, B&H will not join NATO. We will follow the stance of Serbia. All we have from the EU and NATO now is a silent occupation. For a handful of dollars for development projects, they occupied us and we are unable to act on our own”, Dodik claimed. Dodik assessed that even more countries will revoke their recognition of Kosovo’s independence after the pandemic ends and he added that “the policy of Serbs must go towards strengthening of sovereignty. One must assume that people has the right to their sovereignty in territories which have belonged to Serbs for centuries and Kosovo is definitely one of those”. Dodik argued that B&H is “incomplete country” in which nothing can function or survive and he slammed officials of the Federation of B&H and B&H for criticizing assistance sent to the RS. He went on by saying that “for the benefit of people who live in this area – Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats – B&H will have to find a new political-territorial organization which will not be B&H. We should try to manage each our own resources and cooperate with others. What did B&H give to Muslims, Serbs and Croats now? It did not give anything to anyone. The question is whether B&H will exist at all after the pandemic and this question will be included in an agenda”.
Cvijanovic signs decision by which decree-law on ban on fake news spread was put out of force (BNTV)
Decree-law that placed a ban on spread of fake news and causing panic and distress among the citizens during the state of emergency in the RS was put out of force on Friday. The decision was signed by President of the RS Zeljka Cvijanovic, based on the RS government’s proposal. The decision was published in the Official Gazette of the RS. The decree-law was put out of force after many criticized it, saying this decision was made during the crisis with the goal of restricting the freedom of speech. As BNTV unofficially learns, several international organizations reacted to this decree-law.
Sarovic: It is time to think about the abolition of the state of emergency in the RS (BNTV)
SDS leader Mirko Sarovic said that “it is time to think about the abolition of the state of emergency in the RS”. “Besides the decree-law that bans the spread of fake news and causing panic and distress during the state of emergency, measure that seems to be the most important product of the state of emergency, and which is now being withdrawn due to many disapprovals and reactions from the European institutions, we did not see anything concrete,” Sarovic said. “There are neither serious obstacles nor a real reason not to abolish the state of emergency as of May 1 and return to the previous emergency situation regime, which is a sufficient framework for continuation of the successful fight against the coronavirus pandemic,” Sarovic added. The SDS leader underlined that the RS officials must find ways to overcome this crisis, return the citizens’ lives to normal and renew the economy before it is too late.
EUD to B&H confirms one of their employees escaped from isolation unit in Sarajevo (FTV)
Competent authorities in the Sarajevo Canton (SC) have located a patient infected with COVID-19 who escaped from the isolation unit at the Clinic for Pulmonary Diseases and Tuberculosis ‘Podhrastovi’ of the Clinical Center of the University of Sarajevo’s (KCUS) on Thursday afternoon. He will be returned to the Clinic for further medical treatment. Representatives of the EU Delegation (EUD) to B&H confirmed that one of their employees escaped from the isolation unit in Sarajevo on Thursday, although he previously tested positive for COVID-19. “We promptly reacted in coordination with the authorities and we ensured the return of our employee to the hospital, respecting all risk reduction security measures” said the representatives of the EUD to B&H. Head of the EUD Johann Sattler stressed that the man in question is a mentally stable individual. “I am deeply disturbed by today’s (Thursday’s) events regarding an infected member of our team. This is a hardworking and responsible individual who has not had mental problems and whom I want to recover as quickly as possible. We are cooperating with the authorities in taking all the necessary steps,” Sattler said.
Ambassador Uebber: Political games need to be kept away from crisis management (Dnevni avaz)
German Ambassador to B&H Margret Uebber stated that competent authorities in B&H reacted in timely and decisive manner and they proved that political system of this country can function if all sides put in the equal effort. Ambassador added that it is important in this crisis, and probably even after it is ended, to act constructively: “Carriers of political decisions at all levels have to cooperate and reach agreements and keep the political games away from crisis management”. Uebber stressed that Germany will remain reliable partner to B&H and they want to follow B&H on its EU path. “I am very glad that the EU demonstrated solidarity and that they are giving huge contribution to B&H to overcome the pandemic of coronavirus. Two million euros enabled distributing of medical protection equipment throughout the country. In the following weeks the delivery of total of 80 respirators will follow, which is 50% more than the country has had in March. The EU has promised total of seven million euros for purchasing of medical equipment. We need to add to this the economic assistance, especially intended for smaller enterprises, in amount of total of 73.5 million Euros,” said Uebber. “Germany and the EU are standing by your side in these times, and together we will defeat the virus,” ends Uebber.
Nitzan: It is now necessary to double and triple the fight against pandemic (Dnevni avaz)
The daily carried an interview with Acting Regional Emergency Director for the European Region, Health Emergencies Program, World Health Organization Dorit Nitzan, who expressed satisfaction that B&H managed to avoid exponential increase when it comes to COVID-19 pandemic. “WHO is cooperating with B&H in order to support the country in sufficient laboratory capacities for revealing of cases and to secure that healthcare system is prepared with sufficient capacity. We are monitoring the situation, along with B&H authorities in order to establish where the virus is spreading and how,” said Nitzan. Commenting the commendations that B&H received in fighting COVID-19, Nitzan said that those positive sights are not a victory. “Experience from several countries show that isolation, testing and searching for contacts and quarantine, in combination with measures of physical distancing, mobilization of the community and strengthening of healthcare system, can prevent infection and save lives. We see results in many European countries where growth rate is slowed down. However, as our Regional Director said, positive signs from several countries are still not a victory. It is time to double and triple the efforts,” said Nitzan. She explained that this is a new virus and its pattern of behavior is still a mystery, and every country has to do its best to protect its citizens, while at the same time, minimizing socioeconomic effects. She could not stipulate when citizens will be able to walk without masks and gloves and noted that situation will develop in months ahead, as the risk from returning of the disease is there and it will be necessary to establish permanent control by rigorous applying of healthcare interventions.
B&H records 21 new cases, the country’s tally at 1,309 (N1)
Twenty-one new Covid-19 patients have been recorded in B&H over the past 24 hours, ten in the FB&H and 11 in the RS, healthcare authorities of both regions confirmed on Monday. According to the official statistics by B&H Ministry of Civil Affairs that is updated every day by 1 pm, the country’s tally now stands at 1,309, with 49 fatalities and 381 recovered patients. With a total of 416 new samples in the past 24 hours, the FB&H has so far tested nearly 10,000 of its residents. The total of confirmed patients in this part of the country by Monday noon was 739, with 594 active and 115 recovered cases. Thirty patients have died as a result of the coronavirus infection.
The RS, on the other hand, has so far tested 7,872 of its residents and confirmed the total of 545 infections with the novel coronavirus. 262 patients have recovered and 17 died. The Brcko District in the north has registered 80 coronavirus infections on its territory. After weeks of precautionary measures to prevent the virus spread on the whole country’s territory, which included the restricted movement of the persons aged below 18 and above 65, wearing of face masks and gloves, curfew hours and others, the authorities have announced they might gradually lift or alleviate some of the measures in the upcoming weeks.
Capak: 10 counties asked for abolition of e-passes yesterday and all were approved (HRT)
Discontinuing e-passes is the first restriction that has been lifted easing the life of citizens. “Although mobility is one of the factors spreading this disease, it was judged that the measure makes life more difficult for people, slows the economy and creates problems for farmers,” said the head of the Croatian Public Health Institute Krunsolav Capak while appearing on Croatian radio this morning. “10 counties asked for the discontinuing of e-passes yesterday and all were approved,” said Capak. The head of the Civil Protection Headquarters in Istra County Dino Kozlevac said that Istra County was the first hit by the epidemic and they first began to implement measures ordered by experts. “Those measures gave results and this morning we have no new infection cases. We have a great number of wipes that are taken daily at a laboratory in Istra,” said Kozlevac. He emphasized that in Istra all cities and municipalities signed an agreement to allow conduct of mutual activities, 40 cities and municipalities are formally 7 areas where the National Headquarters approved movement within them 10 days ago. “Experiences were good. We received this decision ready and we believe it is a continuation of easing measures,” said Kozlevac and added that if the epidemiological situation gets worse, they will propose the reintroduction of the old measures again. The Director of the Teaching Institute for Public Health in Split-Dalmatia County Zeljka Karin said that Split-Dalmatia County avoided the virus for a long time, however the epidemic then escalated quickly, adding that nevertheless the situation was quickly placed under control. “The biggest problem is that the virus entered homes. Yesterday we had information that there were 11 newly infected, of those 7 were from homes for the elderly. This is a better situation than in previous weeks,” she noted. As far as the work of restaurant sector facilities is concerned, Krunoslav Capak emphasized that a month ago a decision was made on banning their work, however deliveries or a drive-in system was allowed. He said that these are systems in which close contact between the buyer and seller can be avoided. “We have additionally explained this now because there were uncertainties. We set 11 points regarding the functioning of restaurant facilities and they were published on the website of the Croatian Public Health Institute,” said Capak and added that as soon as restaurateurs fulfill these conditions, they will receive the possibility to continue work. “We introduced measures that are among the strictest in the EU, which were not aimed at halting the economy, but we had to do this in order to give the public health system a chance to adjust to the new situation,” he said. Capak did not want to reveal which measures would be relaxed next because, as he said, a bunch of measures have been proposed. He did however say that public transport will definitely begin again soon, but under strict epidemiological measures. “Many people are suffering because of these measures and can’t go to work,” he added. “We will probably have to wear masks,” noted Capak.
Croatian and Slovenian Presidents exchange messages of support (HRT)
Croatian President Zoran Milanovic responded on twitter to a message of support from his Slovenian counterpart during the coronavirus pandemic. Milanovic said solidarity was needed during these difficult times like never before. “Thank you and all our friends in Slovenia for your support. On behalf of the citizens of Croatia, I send our support to Slovenia as they show responsibility and competence in these uncertain and complicated times. I hope and believe that we will all emerge from this crisis as better and wiser people,” wrote the President on his official twitter page on Sunday. Earlier in the day, Slovenian President Borut Pahor sent a message of solidarity and encouragement to President Milanovic and the citizens of Croatia, saying they would defeat the deadly coronavirus together. “We deeply admire the Croatian people for showing determination, courage, and hope in these difficult times” Pahor tweeted. “Slovenia feels your sorrow and is genuinely looking forward to your success,” he added. United with other European peoples, we will defeat coronavirus together, Pahor said. “Everything will be all right.”
In Croatia 10 new cases of coronavirus infection confirmed, bringing the tally to 1881 (HRT)
According to the latest report from the National Civil Protection Headquarters ten new coronavirus cases have been recorded in the past 24 hours, bringing the national total to 1881.
Health Minister Vili Beros noted that the ten recorded coronavirus cases was a continuation of the positive trend of the past week, as new coronavirus cases continue to decline on a daily basis. He added that 771 people having made a full recovery, which means that there are now 1 110 active coronavirus cases in the country. Of the 1 110 coronavirus cases 324 are being treated in hospital, while 786 are recovering at home. As of Monday, 18 patients are on respirators, which is down by five from yesterday. Almost 13 600 people are under self-isolation measures.
Minister Beros added that no new coronavirus related deaths were registered over the past 24 hours, and the national total remains at 47. The minister concluded that Croatia has conducted well over 20 thousand coronavirus tests, of which 1 424 in the past 24 hours alone.
Institute for Public Health of Montenegro confirms three more cases of coronavirus (CDM)
The Institute for Public Health of Montenegro has confirmed another three coronavirus cases: one in Tuzi, one in Niksic and one in Plav. There are currently 311 cases in Montenegro. “From 6 pm yesterday, until 8:30 this morning, 96 samples were analyzed and three tested positive”, the Institute said. “Two cases are family contacts. Case in Niksic is being examined”, Institute reported. Number of cases by municipalities:
Bijelo Polje: 6
Herceg Novi: 6
Citizens of Kumanovo, Tetovo and Prilep must wear protective masks and gloves as of Wednesday (MIA)
As of 22 April (Wednesday), citizens of Kumanovo, Tetovo and Prilep must wear protective masks and gloves outside their homes, at public places, outdoor and indoor areas, markets and shops, the government decided on Saturday. The Ministry of Health has been instructed to provide a portion of the donations of protective equipment that the country has received until now to health institutions in Kumanovo, Prilep and Tetovo. Moreover, all institutions, agencies and local offices in Kumanovo municipality are also instructed to reduce their capacities and enforce specific protective measures, for the purpose of isolating as many people as possible during this period. Police, army, health workers and fire fighters are exempted from this measure. The government recommends that all citizens of North Macedonia, especially those living at the territory of Kumanovo, Prilep and Tetovo, reduce outings from their homes, as well as designate one family member in charge of buying groceries and medicines. In addition, organized transport of passengers, namely entry and exit from Tetovo municipality and the surrounding municipalities, is banned as of Tuesday. Economic operators transporting their employees to the job, police, army and firefighting units are exempted from this ban.
Curfew to be shortened, but it is not known if it will apply for weekends (Republika)
In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Health Minister Venko Filipce announced that they are considering gradually reducing restrictive measures, but when exactly that will happen will be considered next week, when the Commission for Infectious Diseases will summarize the numbers of newly infected and will see the effects of the two previous weekends in quarantine. “We are well on our way to start loosening the restrictive measures at the beginning of May. Restrictions will be lifted gradually, the curfew will be shortened, so far it has not been decided whether it will apply for the weekend. However, it must be borne in mind that life will not return to normal with the same dynamics despite the loosening of the measures,” said Filipce.
In North Macedonia 18 new cases of Covid-19, 21 patients recovered, 3 people died (Libertas)
The Ministry of Health informs that today the Institute of Public Health registered 21 patients who have recovered – 16 from Skopje, 3 from Kumanovo and 2 from Stip, all were treated at home. To date, the number of patients who have recovered in the country is 200. Three Covid-19 positive patients have died at the Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Febrile Conditions, a 46-year-old patient from Labunista, 71-year-old patient from Prilep and 63-year-old patient from Kumanovo. In the past 24 hours, 18 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed.
Thus, the total number of diagnosed patients with Covid-19 in North Macedonia is 1225, and the last distribution by cities is:
Skopje – 411
Kumanovo – 338
Debar – 51
Tetovo – 57
Struga – 55
Veles – 59
Kavadarci – 4
Gevgelija – 4
Strumica – 2
Radovish – 4
Krushevo – 3
Kocani – 27
Probistip – 2
Kicevo – 2
Demir Hisar – 1
Македонски Брод -2
In the past 24 hours, 263 tests have been performed. So far, a total of 12,133 Covid-19 tests have been performed in the country. At the Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Febrile Conditions in Skopje, 3 patients from Skopje, Struga and Prilep were admitted with moderate to severe and severe condition. A total of 56 were hospitalized, 18 of whom were on oxygen support and 3 on mechanical ventilation. 15 new patients were admitted to the CGH “September 8”. Suspected patients who received a negative result were transferred to other wards, and currently 34 confirmed and suspected patients have been hospitalized in the ward. With a more severe clinical picture, there are 9 patients and 6 are on a respiratory machine. At the hospital in Bitola, 14 patients were hospitalized, confirmed and suspected of being infected, and another 15 patients are being treated at home. At the moment, 5 cases of positive patients are being treated at the Stip hospital, all in stable condition, and 19 patients are being treated at home.
Low-risk businesses will kick off operation after 20 April (Radio Tirana)
Low-risk businesses will kick off operation after 20 April. That is the announcement made by PM Edi Rama. Here are included businesses that don’t have close contacts with the clients. According to him, all administrators, for all businesses in all these categories, must ensure that the respective businesses comply with the security protocol and must read to their owners or employees the rules set by the protocol, as well as the criminal consequences for their offenders. All businesses have to apply and will receive a weekly permit from e-Albania. They will be allowed to operate from 5:00 to 17:30. High-risk businesses including education, sports activities, restaurants, entertainment activities and gyms will be the last to be reopened. Here’s the list of businesses: Wholesale trade of meat, drinks, dairy products, coffee, cereal, clothing, shoes, electrical appliances, flowers, pets, tobacco, etc; Meat processing; Agriculture and husbandry; Food processing factories; Shoes, clothing, and furniture manufacturers; Car sales and repairs; Call centers; Hotels, motels, and guest houses; Oil, chrome, and natural gas extraction; Freight transport.
In Albania 584 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 26 victims (Tirana Times)
Twenty-two new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of infected patients to 584 in Albania. New cases were identified in Tirana, Shkodra, Kruja and Kurbin. So far, tests have been conducted on 5,775 people, 10 percent of whom have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Minister of Health. A total of 44 patients are being treated at the Infectious Diseases Hospital and the ‘COVID 2’ Hospital, 10 of whom are in intensive care and four are intubated. The Ministry of Health also announced that so far, a total of 327 patients who tested positive for the coronavirus in Albania have now recovered. However, they will have to be quarantined at home for 14 days. The death toll remains at 26 victims.
In terms of general statistics, the Institute of Health reported that 56 percent of the infected people have recovered, 7 percent are hospitalized, 32 percent are self-isolated at home, and 5 percent have died. Currently, the geographical distribution of the infected patients across Albania is as follows:
Tirana 253 cases
Durres 42 cases
Lushnje 6 cases
Elbasan 16 cases
Fier 36 cases
Kavaja 9 cases
Rrogozhina 4 cases
Korca 19 cases
Vlora 5 cases
Shkodra 99 cases
Lezha 14 cases
Berat 2 cases
Has 13 cases
Kruja 23 cases
Tropoja 4 cases
Puka 5 cases
Mirdita 3 cases
Kukes 11 cases
Mallakster 1 case
Kurbin 19 cases
The Albanian government has restricted movement of vehicles and pedestrians throughout the territory by imposing a curfew from 5 am to 17:30 pm, with only one person per household being authorized to move. Last weekend, citizens were not allowed out of their houses on Saturday and Sunday. All international air, sea and land travel is banned and schools, kindergartens, bars, restaurants, hotels, stadiums, concert halls and parks are also closed.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
EU’s New Serbia-Kosovo Envoy Dismisses Talk Of U.S. Rivalry (RFE/RL, 17 April 2020)
The European Union’s newly appointed special envoy to Serbia-Kosovo talks says he is committed to resolving all of the Balkan neighbors’ outstanding disputes. In statements to RFE/RL on April 17, Ambassador Miroslav Lajcak stressed there was only one EU-moderated Pristina-Belgrade dialogue but said he would also continue to work closely with his U.S. counterparts. “The U.S. has been the main partner of the EU in the Western Balkans and the main partner of the EU in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina,” Lajcak said. The EU-brokered talks on normalizing relations between Belgrade and Pristina broke off in late 2018 after Pristina imposed a 100 percent import tax on Serbian and Bosnian goods. The import tax was Pristina’s response to a campaign by Belgrade aimed at convincing other countries to reverse their recognition of Kosovo’s independence. The United States has intensified its push for Serbia and its former province to return to so-called normalization talks since U.S. President Donald Trump appointed Richard Grenell as his special representative in October. Grenell recently suspended projects in Kosovo worth millions of dollars in an effort to spur a restart of talks. Other U.S. officials have suggested that Washington could withdraw hundreds of troops stationed there. U.S. officials on April 17 had no comment to RFE/RL regarding Lajcak’s statements or whether a final agreement would best be reached under U.S. leadership versus European leadership. Lajcak told RFE/RL that he understood Kosovo’s frustration over the lack of progress in the visa-liberalization process so far. “This is a message Lajcak is bringing to the EU member states’ capitals: ‘If we demand from our partners to fulfill their obligations, we must also fulfill our obligations,'” Lajcak’s statement said. “The European Commission stated very clearly that Kosovo has fulfilled all the criteria. The question is not ‘if’ but ‘when’ will visa liberalization happen. So, it will come; I have no doubts.” Lajcak said achievements in the nine-year-old dialogue included the movement of goods and people between Kosovo and Serbia, an international dialing code for Kosovo, elections in Kosovo that include its predominantly ethnic Serb region, and integration of Serbs within the Kosovar justice and law enforcement systems.