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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, 22 July

By   /  22/07/2020  /  Comments Off on UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, 22 July

• COVID-19: 168 new cases, 157 recovered (media)
• COVID-19 puts strain on Kosovo health system (Prishtina Insight)
• LDK’s Skender Hyseni appointed state coordinator for dialogue (media)
• President Thaci welcomes Hyseni’s appointment as state coordinator (media)
• Osmani comments on Hyseni’s appointment as coordinator (Klan/Kallxo)
• Osmani slams Hoti: He has renounced state sovereignty (Klan Kosova)
• EU asks unity from Kosovo in dialogue (Express)
• Von Cramon responds to allegations of interfering with SPO’s work (media)
• Cakaj: Specialist Chambers, a political problem (RTK)
• Kosovo Telecom board resigns (Koha)

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  • COVID-19: 168 new cases, 157 recovered (media)
  • COVID-19 puts strain on Kosovo health system (Prishtina Insight)
  • LDK’s Skender Hyseni appointed state coordinator for dialogue (media)
  • President Thaci welcomes Hyseni’s appointment as state coordinator (media)
  • Osmani comments on Hyseni’s appointment as coordinator (Klan/Kallxo)
  • Osmani slams Hoti: He has renounced state sovereignty (Klan Kosova)
  • EU asks unity from Kosovo in dialogue (Express)
  • Von Cramon responds to allegations of interfering with SPO’s work (media)
  • Cakaj: Specialist Chambers, a political problem (RTK)
  • Kosovo Telecom board resigns (Koha)

Kosovo Media Highlights

COVID-19: 168 new cases, 157 recovered (media)

The National Institute of Public Health announced on Tuesday that 168 new cases of coronavirus have been recorded during the last 24 hours in Kosovo. Meanwhile, 157 patients have been recovered.

Positive cases are from: Prishtina municipality 91 cases, Podujeva municipality 11 cases, Ferizaj 10 cases, Decan 8 cases, Peja 8 cases, Fushe Kosova 7 cases, Gjakova 7 cases, Drenas 5 cases, Obiliq 5 cases, Malisheva 4 cases, Mitrovica 3 cases, Prizren 2 cases, Shtime 2 cases, Vushtrri 2 cases, Lipjan 2 cases, and 1 case from Skenderaj municipality.

The total number of positive cases in Kosovo is 6,045, while 144 patients succumbed to the disease due to other concomitant diseases. Around 300 patients with the coronavirus are being treated in Kosovo’s health facilities, 16 of them in respirators.

The number of active cases at present is 3,143.

COVID-19 puts strain on Kosovo health system (Prishtina Insight)

Senior health officials tell BIRN they are worried that the Kosovo health system may ‘collapse’ due to the demands on medical staff, with around 500 health workers estimated to have been infected with coronavirus so far.

On Tuesday morning, the Chamber of Kosovo Doctors announced that Fadil Zuka, a doctor from the town of Viti died after contracting COVID-19. He is the first doctor in Kosovo to die after testing positive for coronavirus since the outbreak began in March.

Zuka is one of around an estimated 140 doctors to have contracted coronavirus, while senior health officials have told BIRN that around 500 health workers have been infected. Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health has recorded 6,045 cases across the country since testing began in February, with 2,675 cases still active.

Blerim Delija, the Vice President of the Federation of Health Trade Unions of Kosovo believes that the threat to health workers posed by COVID-19 could lead the country’s health system to collapse.

“The number of health workers infected has so far reached 480-500,” he tells BIRN. “I estimate that the huge disruption from the large number of patients with COVID-19 can lead to the collapse of the health system due to [the demand on] human resources.”

According to Delija, Kosovo’s health system already lacked qualified medical staff able to treat patients with COVID-19, and that number is reducing due to staff becoming infected with the coronavirus.

Despite these concerns, Bujar Gashi, the Director of Health at the Municipality of Prishtina, believes that the health system is still in a good position to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

“Capacities in the primary health care centres are OK, and we have the possibility to meet the demands of the citizens,” Gashi tells BIRN.

However, Pleurat Sejdiu, the Head of the Chamber of Kosovo Doctors, says that the stress and risk of infection is leading to serious fatigue in the health workers on the front line of the fight against COVID-19, especially those working in intensive care units.

“The fatigue of the medical staff is no longer only physical but also mental, due to overwork,” he tells BIRN.

Sejdiu states that based on the information possessed by the Chamber, 140 doctors have been reported as being affected by COVID-19, a figure he describes as “alarming.” He adds that collecting information has been a tough process due to the atypical nature of the situation, but in recent weeks the information gathered has improved in accuracy.

“In the last week alone, 35 doctors have been reported as infected,” he adds.

On July 15, Minister of Health Armend Zemaj announced the hiring of 50 new doctors and 62 nurses to work in Kosovo’s hospitals. However, while Sejdiu is grateful for the support, which he believes can help relieve the burden on the overworked health staff, he tells BIRN that more specialised reinforcement is required.

“Our health system needs more epidemiologists, who would be on the front line, not only for diagnoses but also to give initial treatment,” he explains.

With the dramatic increase in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, wards in hospitals across the country have been utilised to treat patients with COVID-19 after the Infectious Disease Clinic in Prishtina reached capacity.

However, Bahri Thaci, who works at the Pulmonary Clinic at the University Clinical Centre of Kosovo, tells BIRN that these makeshift wards do not reach the standards required to contain the spread of infection.

“Several nurses and doctors have been infected in our clinic, but all of us who work there are at risk of becoming infected,” he says. “Despite all the measures taken, in reality these clinics that we have improvised do not meet the conditions and standards that these clinics should reach.”

Thaci paints an alarming picture of the reality within these wards. “All patients use one toilet and everyone uses the same corridor – this should not have happened,” he says. “But this has been imposed on us, the health staff. By sacrificing ourselves, we are trying to protect patients and their health.”

According to the pulmonologist, due to the increasing number of patients suffering from COVID-19, medical staff are often forced to release patients prematurely, in order to create space for patients in a more serious condition.

However, despite the difficult situation, Thaci welcomes the recruitment of further doctors and nurses by the Ministry of Health which he hopes will alleviate the situation, and adds that people’s fate is in their own hands.

“After the increase in deaths from COVID-19, everyone is aware [of the situation],” he tells BIRN. “If everyone continues to wear masks, I believe that the number of people infected with the virus can be reduced.” 

LDK’s Skender Hyseni appointed state coordinator for dialogue (media)

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti has appointed Skender Hyseni as state coordinator for the dialogue with Serbia. Hyseni is a member of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and used to serve as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

President Thaci welcomes Hyseni’s appointment as state coordinator (media)

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that he welcomes the appointment of Skender Hyseni as state coordinator for the dialogue with Serbia.

“Mr. Hyseni’s appointment is a result of inter-institutional coordination. I have full confidence that Hyseni’s three-decade experience in the process of freedom and state-forming will be crucial in the final phase of the dialogue for mutual recognition between Kosovo and Serbia,” Thaci said.

“Mr. Hyseni has the mandate to negotiate a final political agreement between Kosovo and Serbia and not to become part of useless technical processes. I am confident that with his engagement and efforts, Mr. Hyseni will manage to build the required political consensus between the government and opposition for the good of the Republic of Kosovo”. 

Osmani comments on Hyseni’s appointment as coordinator (Klan/Kallxo)

Kosovo Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani commented on the recent appointment of Skender Hyseni from the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) as state coordinator for dialogue with Serbia saying she did not know what Hyseni’s terms of reference are.

“Mr. Hyseni is not a political representative. I don’t know who he represents as he did not run in last elections. If he conducts technical dialogue, the government ought to come out and explain this. But if we’re dealing with issues of political representation, this needs to be clarified in detail,” she said noting that she would not object to Hyseni being engaged in the technical aspect.

Osmani slams Hoti: He has renounced state sovereignty (Klan Kosova)

Kosovo Assembly President Vjosa Osmani said in an interview to Klan Kosova on Tuesday evening that Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti has not been transparent about reporting on the dialogue with Serbia. She said Hoti must know that the Assembly is not an enemy in the process of dialogue.

Osmani said that when it comes to reporting to the Assembly on the dialogue, Hoti is imitating President Hashim Thaci. “We sent an invitation to Prime Minister before he departed for Washington. If you look at the minutes of the Assembly session you will see that there was great interest by the MPs to ask questions about the meeting in Washington, but from the answers that were given it was clear that there was no transparency. We should not assess the transparency in the dialogue by counting the number of votes and notifications in the Assembly but rather based on the quality of the information that is shared,” she said.

Osmani argued that “Hoti has renounced the state sovereignty”. “No political party is allowed to this,” she added. Osmani also said that Hoti lacks the necessary experience for the process of dialogue with Serbia.

Asked about her future political engagement after she was removed from the post of LDK deputy leader, Osmani said: “I will continue my political engagement. After I was removed from the post of LDK deputy leader, there is no room for cooperation. I don’t have any personal issues with any member of the LDK”.

“It will take me some time to decide on my future political engagement. I cannot make this decision on my own because I have associates in the LDK with whom I communicate on a daily basis. There are also people in civil society that have supported me continuously.”

EU asks unity from Kosovo in dialogue (Express)

A spokesperson for the European Union told the news website on Tuesday that the EU and member states expect Kosovo and Serbia to implement all agreements reached in the dialogue so far. “Unresolved issues and previous agreements will be addressed in parallel with the negotiations for a comprehensive agreement,” the spokesperson said.

“When he visited Kosovo and in his meetings, the EU Special Representative [Miroslav Lajcak] asked all interlocutors to place the dialogue above political and party interests and to be united in the process,” he added.

Von Cramon responds to allegations of interfering with SPO’s work (media)

European Parliament rapporteur for Kosovo, Viola von Cramon, has responded to the deputy leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) Enver Hoxhaj following his allegations that by visiting the Specialist Chambers in The Hague she was interfering in the work of the court.

Von Cramon wrote on Twitter: “Sorry, but this is part of my job. You might not understand but as #StandingRapporteur I have to inform myself how the rule of law principle is implemented in Kosovo. As my predecessor for the Standing Rapporteur @isoltesEP did so before I have done, too.

“U have to know how the structures of SC& SPO work. None of us would ever interfere in any processes. Why should we? For us that is crystal clear. How could u even think about it? Maybe this is common in your country. But I reassure you that isnt common in functioning #democracies.”

Head of the PDK parliamentary group, Memli Krasniqi, in turn replied to von Cramon: “Oh, the accidental MEP strikes again! And with a racist tweet at that! Scolding the whole country of us lesser mortals. How reassuring that she’ll write reports about #Kosovo for the EP. We are inferior to her brilliance, as many anonymous twitter bots supporting her can affirm.”

Cakaj: Specialist Chambers, a political problem (RTK)

Albania’s acting Foreign Minister, Gent Cakaj, said in an interview with RTK that the Specialist Chambers are a political problem and that Kosovo’s political landscape must unite to oppose efforts for staining the former Kosovo Liberation Army.

Cakaj also said: “the Specialist Chambers were created by the Assembly with the support of President Thaci, and then Assembly President Kadri Veseli, so it makes no sense for Kosovo to appear as non-cooperative with this court”.

Cakaj said there are efforts in Serbia to remove the responsibility of the state for actions in the war. He said Serbia tries to avoid state responsibility even for the events in Bosnia. “Even the Srebrenica massacre is being considered as genocide committed by local Serbs and not by Serbia,” he said.

Kosovo Telecom board resigns (Koha)

The members of the provisional board of Kosovo Telecom collectively resigned yesterday after the enterprise’s bank account was emptied by a collection agent, Koha reports.

Sources said that €3 million were withdrawn from the Telecom’s account, funds which the company had received from the Government as part of the coronavirus stimulus package.

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