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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, August 11

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• COVID – 19 report: 183 new cases, 14 deaths (media)
• Private institutions approved for coronavirus testing (Prishtina Insight)
• Health Minister indicates new measures against COVID – 19 (media)
• Kurti warns of human catastrophe in letter to foreign diplomats (media)
• Abrashi blames Vetevendosje for situation with pandemic (media)
• NISMA wants PDK to join Hoti-led government (media)
• Reshitaj: Haradinaj is against technical dialogue with Serbia (Klan Kosova)
• Klinaku: Embassies opposed all KLA laws (media)
• Berisha: KLA law does not threaten freedom of speech (Klan Kosova)

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  • COVID – 19 report: 183 new cases, 14 deaths (media)
  • Private institutions approved for coronavirus testing (Prishtina Insight)
  • Health Minister indicates new measures against COVID – 19 (media)
  • Kurti warns of human catastrophe in letter to foreign diplomats (media)
  • Abrashi blames Vetevendosje for situation with pandemic (media)
  • NISMA wants PDK to join Hoti-led government (media)
  • Reshitaj: Haradinaj is against technical dialogue with Serbia (Klan Kosova)
  • Klinaku: Embassies opposed all KLA laws (media)
  • Berisha: KLA law does not threaten freedom of speech (Klan Kosova)

COVID – 19 report: 183 new cases, 14 deaths (media)

183 new cases of coronavirus and 14 deaths were recorded in Kosovo in the last 24-hour period. 149 persons have recovered from the virus during this period. The highest number of new cases is from the municipality of Prishtina (78). According to Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health, there are currently 4,020 active coronavirus cases in Kosovo.

Most news outlets reported on Monday that 29 private labs, licensed by Kosovo’s Ministry of Health, will begin as of this week carrying out tests for COVID – 19 sing the serological and PCR methods. Tests in the private labs will reportedly cost anywhere between 20 and 50 euros. Ministry of Health officials said the testing in the private facilities will be overseen by the National Institute for Public Health.

Private institutions approved for coronavirus testing (Prishtina Insight)

The Ministry of Health has revealed the names of 29 private health institutions which have met the criteria to conduct PCR and serological tests for coronavirus, but with the Health Inspectorate yet to conduct inspections testing may not begin for some time.

The Ministry of Health has announced that 29 private health institutions across Kosovo have met the criteria to provide tests for coronavirus.

Two institutions, one in Prishtina and one in Lipjan, have met the criteria to provide PCR tests, which identify whether the virus is currently active within the body. Meanwhile, 27 other institutions have been approved to conduct serological tests, which ascertain the presence of antibodies, revealing whether the patient has previously been infected.

According to the ministry, over 100 applications have been made by institutions wishing to conduct testing, with 34 reviewed thus far. More applications will be reviewed this week, with the names of more institutions able to perform coronavirus tests to be provided soon.

However, testing at these institutions may not start for some time.

The ministry stated that from Tuesday, the Health Inspectorate will conduct inspections of the institutions that have met the criteria to perform the tests. These inspections will assess whether the institutions meet the standards of health, safety and preparedness to carry out testing that is required.

Two private laboratories in Prishtina, ‘Fati Im’ and ‘Norma’, which are both included on the list published by the Ministry of Health, have told Prishtina Insight that testing cannot begin until the inspection of their institution is completed. Prishtina Insight contacted Ministry of Health spokesperson Faik Hoti to determine when testing may begin at the identified institutions, but received no response.

Since February, PCR testing has been conducted exclusively by Kosovo’s National Institute of Public Health, NIPH, which has tested 41,152 people as of 10 August.

The intention to introduce testing in private institutions was first announced by the Minister of Health on 5 July in response to the huge rise in the number of cases recorded by the NIPH. Citizens had frequently been visiting private institutions in Skopje seeking testing due to difficulties in getting tested in Kosovo.

Health Minister indicates new measures against COVID – 19 (media)

Kosovo’s Minister of Health Armend Zemaj said on Monday that the full implementation of protective measures is the only hope in being successful in the fight against the coronavirus.

Zemaj said there could be a new lockdown but a controlled one and not similar to that in March and April. “I cannot rule a lockdown as means to better control the virus and to have greater control in September … This is an assessment, there could be a controlled lockdown without hurting the organisational aspects of everyday life, but this would help us to better control the pandemic and to be better prepared for September,” he said.

Zemaj also said that before the start of September there could be new restricted movements for citizens.

Kurti warns of human catastrophe in letter to foreign diplomats (media)

Vetevendosje Movement (VV) leader and former Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, sent a public letter on Monday to foreign diplomats serving in Kosovo, asking for their countries’ aid to Kosovo in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

Kurti’s letter notes:

Dear Excellencies,

Ambassadors of Kosova’s friends and partners, honored diplomats.

Kosova is honored to have your countries as partners. You have stood by us in our most difficult times.

Our societies share common values of freedom and democracy. We also share the same interests of strengthening our region economically and securing lasting peace and prosperity for all.

With this shared history and our common values in mind, and as the leader of the largest political party in Kosova, the most voted politician, an activist and concerned citizen of this small, poor, but resilient country, I write to urge you to help our health institutions in these challenging and unprecedented times, as they struggle with COVID-19 and work to save people’s lives.

As you may know, the situation with COVID-19 in the last two months has become dramatic. 341 people have died so far, 10.419 are infected, and there are 4.020 active cases. In the last two weeks we had an average of ten deaths per day, ranking first according to COVID-19 deaths per million residents.

Daily we have hundreds of positive cases with more than 50% of tested people positive. Given that the government has drastically scaled back contact tracing, the number of infections is much higher which presents an even greater risk if more people need hospitalization. The resources of our healthcare institutions – be they technical or human – are exhausted, and hospitals have run out of beds. All Intensive Care Units are occupied while doctors, specialists and nurses are working day and night under immense pressure and stress. More than 1.000 healthcare workers have now been infected which makes the need for more medical staff even more pressing.

Critical medical supplies to fight COVID-19 are running short, and if this dramatic situation continues, soon we will lack sufficient oxygen to help save patients in need. With scientists predicting a rise in infections in the fall and winter, the situation will further degenerate, causing a humanitarian catastrophe.

Dear Ambassadors, honored diplomats, I am well aware that the current health and economic crisis is global and that your countries too are struggling with the human and economic impacts of the pandemic.

But Kosova is in dire need.

As the Leader of the Opposition, it is my job to hold the current government to account, including in times of national emergency. I regret that we do not have a government which acts responsibly and professionally, listens to the scientists and experts, and enjoys trust and credibility among citizens. The virus itself is not of the government’s making, but the failure to respond responsibly is a direct result of its gross incompetence, putting our entire country at risk.

In this deeply concerning situation, I cannot stand idly by and watch while a health crisis deteriorates into a humanitarian one, threatening the lives of thousands of Kosova’s citizens.

Honorable ambassadors and diplomats, I have expressed these views to you privately many times. Now, on behalf of the people of Kosova, I publicly ask you and your countries to support Kosova’s healthcare institutions with the necessary medical equipment and human resources to enable us to prevent a health crisis from turning into a humanitarian catastrophe.

Abrashi blames Vetevendosje for situation with pandemic (media)

Kosovo’s Minister of Infrastructure and senior member of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), Arban Abrashi, said in an interview on Monday that Kosovo is heading toward a more stable situation with the coronavirus pandemic.

Asked to comment on Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti’s letter to foreign diplomats asking for their countries’ help to Kosovo in fighting the pandemic, Abrashi said: “I think this is part of their role as the opposition … I also think that if we were to talk about these alternatives, it was the Vetevendosje that brought Kosovo to this situation. Let us not even talk about the deteriorating relations with our strategic partners. It was [former] Prime Minister Kurti who refused to leave office and decided to immediately relax all measures. It took us two months to manage this situation. He [Kurti] gathered several thousand citizens at the square and this created this situation. Two months later we are heading toward a more stable situation,” Abrashi argued.

NISMA wants PDK to join Hoti-led government (media)

Albulena Balaj – Halimaj, Kosovo’s Deputy Prime Minister and senior member of NISMA, a junior partner in the ruling coalition, said in an interview to Kosovapress on Monday that the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) should join the Hoti-led government.

She said that because of unity in the dialogue with Serbia and after the proposed indictments against President Hashim Thaci and PDK leader Kadri Veseli, the PDK should join the government which consists of the LDK, AAK and NISMA.

“Our position is that the PDK too should be part of this government. We want to have unity in the dialogue with Serbia and every political party should support the main objective of having mutual recognition from this process and for Kosovo to be more stable and united,” Balaj – Halimaj said.

Reshitaj: Haradinaj is against technical dialogue with Serbia (Klan Kosova)

Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) MP, Albena Reshitaj, said in an interview with Klan Kosova that the talks between Kosovo and Serbia must not slip into a technical dialogue. “AAK leader Haradinaj is against a technical dialogue and our party does not want the process of talks to be delayed for years. Now is the time for Kosovo and Serbia to engage in a political process that will conclude with mutual recognition,” she said.

Reshitaj also said that a unified representation of all political forces in the dialogue would strengthen the credibility of Prime Minister Hoti and Kosovo’s delegation in the process.

Klinaku: Embassies opposed all KLA laws (media)

Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) War Veterans Secretary, Faton Klinaku, said in a debate on Dukagjini TV on Monday that the KLA formed the state of Kosovo and that therefore the state is obliged to defend former KLA combatants.

Klinaku said that the draft law on protection of the KLA war values does not obstruct the witnesses of the Specialist Chambers because the latter were formed by the Kosovo Assembly.

“The U.S. Ambassador knows that the U.S. too has a law for war veterans. The ambassador also said that the law is costly. This is not true. Except for the Museum of War, there is no other expenditure foreseen in the law,” he added.

Klinaku argued that there were repeated obstacles on all laws for former KLA combatants. “I am the Secretary of the KLA War Veterans since 200. The embassies have always opposed all laws on the KLA,” he said.

Berisha: KLA law does not threaten freedom of speech (Klan Kosova)

Hisen Berisha, former senior member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), said on Monday that the draft law on the protection of the war values of the KLA, does not threaten freedom of speech in Kosovo.

“We still don’t have a system of values (as in the U.S.) yet, and in such circumstances, anti-values rise to the surface. The sponsors should have pushed forward this draft law even earlier. The law is not in contravention with the Constitution. The law does not threaten the freedom of speech or other liberties,” Berisha said.

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