Prishtina. Photo: Urim Krasniqi.

Health system suffers as COVID-19 cases rise

38 COVID-19 related deaths were recorded last week as coronavirus cases continue to increase, while the prime minister warns that Kosovo’s hospitals are running out of space for patients.

Over the weekend, more than 450 confirmed new cases of coronavirus were reported by Kosovo’s National Institute of Public Health. 

On Saturday, the institute reported that in the previous 24 hours, 555 tests had been conducted with 237 positive results, while on Sunday 220 out of 472 tests returned positive. There are currently more than 3,000 active cases across the country.

Meanwhile, according to data from the Ministry of Health, eight COVID-19 related deaths were recorded on Sunday. Over the past week, 38 deaths have been recorded, bringing the total to 177 since the outbreak began in March. 

The total includes three doctors who lost their lives to COVID-19 over the past week, as the effects of the health crisis continue to take a toll on the health service. 

Blerim Syla, the Head of the Federation of Health Trade Unions of Kosovo has told BIRN that 757 health workers have been infected since the start of the outbreak, while 450 cases are still active. Syla added that this number does not include the health professionals who are at home self-isolating.

Syla stated that hospitals could become dangerously understaffed due to infections, adding that newly hired staff could not begin work immediately as training is required to provide adequate health services.

354 patients are currently hospitalised with COVID-19 according to data released by the Ministry of Health on Sunday. Of this number, 186 are at the University Clinical Centre of Kosovo, with 113 in the Infectious Disease Clinic and 73 being treated in other clinics, including the pulmonary and neurology wards.

The remaining 168 patients are hospitalised across Kosovo’s regional hospitals, including 52 at the Hospital of Peja, 31 in Prizren, 25 in Gjilan, 23 in Ferizaj and 21 in Vushtrri, where the entire hospital has been dedicated to the treatment of COVID-19 patients. All but one of the patients is receiving oxygen therapy, while 17 are using ventilators and 18 are in a critical condition.

At a press conference on Saturday, Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti warned that hospital beds at UCCK and Kosovo’s regional hospitals were running out due to the influx of COVID-19 patients.

570 patients are hospitalized at UCCK and the regional hospitals, while we only have 700 beds available, we do not have more,” Hoti said. “Now we need to reorganise UCCK once again, and perhaps close some of the clinics to make them available. We are also working with private hospitals to make necessary space.”

According to Hoti, the government will put in place stricter measures to contain the spread of the virus provided he is instructed to do so by health experts. He added that the Kosovo Police has also been given “strengthened capacities to intervene” in cases of non-compliance with social distancing measures. 

Appearing alongside Hoti at Saturday’s press conference, Valbon Krasniqi, the Head of the Hospital and University Clinical Service of Kosovo said that a total of 250 patients were currently hospitalised at UCCK, threatening other services.

“We are obliged to provide services to other patients as well, especially in emergencies,” Krasniqi said. “We must also maintain basic services for others who are not suffering from COVID-19.”

27/07/2020 - 10:20

27 July 2020 - 10:20

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.