Coronavirus cases continue to rise

160 people were confirmed to have tested positive for coronavirus between Friday and Sunday, with state officials urging Kosovo residents to respect safety measures to contain the spread of the virus.

A rapid increase in the number of coronavirus infections was witnessed this weekend, with 160 cases recorded in the space of three days, bringing the number of known active cases in Kosovo to around 500. Statistics from the National Institute of Public Health reveal that this weekend marks the highest single increase of positive cases that Kosovo has seen since April. 

According to the Infectious Disease Clinic, the number of those hospitalised has also increased, with 40 people currently in their care suffering from COVID-19. Among them, 12 patients are in intensive care while one person currently being treated is in a critical condition. 

The University Clinical Centre of Kosovo announced the deaths of two patients that had tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend, a 76-year-old and 71-year-old, both from Prizren. The total number of deaths of patients that have tested positive for coronavirus now stands at 33.

Residents of the Municipality of Vushtrri make up the largest number of people that tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend, accounting for 44 of the 160 positive cases announced. Vushtrri now has the highest concentration of active cases in the country, with 218, followed by Prishtina with 162 and Prizren with 157 currently active cases confirmed. 

Xhafer Tahiri, the Mayor of Vushtrri, has asked the police to increase their public presence in order to prevent the further spread of the virus, requesting citizens to refrain from family visits and other gatherings. “The highest number of infections is happening within families because of their visits,” said the mayor.

On Sunday evening, the National Institute of Public Health stated that the easing of measures has increased the risk of outbreaks, noting that although the majority of measures restricting movement and the operation of businesses have been removed, wearing masks in public and maintaining distance remains obligatory.

The Institute recommended that the Ministry of Health close all sectors where positive cases were identified, such as art galleries, banks, many private businesses and public institutions, including: Kosovo Post, the Kosovo Energy Distribution Company, KEDS, and the Kosovo Electricity Corporation, KEK.

“These days, there is an increased influx of citizens everywhere in Kosovo,” the Institute’s statement said. “This is dangerous behavior and facilitating movement does not mean disregarding the recommendations of the National Institute and the Ministry of Health to maintain physical distance and wear masks in public places.”

In a  press conference on Friday, new Minister of Health Armend Zemaj stated that it would be unlikely that any other measures would be relaxed soon, but did not announce plans to reintroduce any movement restrictions or tighten measures that have already been relaxed. 

Zemaj attributed the current increase in infections to the reopening of activities on 18 May and 1 June. “This seems to have been exacerbated by the lack of care taken by citizens themselves, but also the inadequate implementation of protective measures by businesses and other entities that have reopened,” he said.

“Some of the decisions on activities planned to be re-evaluated in the third phase should be taken more carefully,” he said. “On the one hand, there is a lot of pressure on us to open everything back up, and on the other hand, the risk of spreading the virus. Most cases are related to the large influx of citizens who take part in the allowed activities, where the observance of the [health and safety] measures is not happening.”

According to Zemaj, negligence in the implementation of health and safety measures has been most pronounced in the food and drink sectors, adding that in order to counter this, an increase in monitoring from the relevant inspectorates will be put in place until the outbreak is contained. 

“Aware of the growing number of positive cases in COVID-19 in recent days, we are obliged to take adequate measures so that this number does not become a burden for our hospitals and health personnel,” he added.

The minister announced on Monday morning that the health ministry plans to introduce its “manual” for protection from the spread of coronavirus later in the afternoon.

15/06/2020 - 10:38

15 June 2020 - 10:38

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