Kosovo’s acting government has amended its restrictions on movement, encouraged citizens to remain abroad unless strictly necessary and extended the closure of schools in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, with the total of confirmed cases reaching 88.
Kosovo’s acting government has amended its decision to restrict the movement of people and vehicles through a new decision issued on Saturday morning, following recommendations from acting Minister of Health Arben Vitia. From now on, restrictions on movement will apply from 17:00 to 06:00.
Exceptions will still apply to those with medical needs, those producing, supplying or selling essential goods, as well as essential government and municipal personnel, among others. Restrictions have also been placed on the movement of people in open spaces in Kosovo cities, with specific reference to city squares.
A new decision on the operation of pharmacies has also been taken in line with the new regulations, with most pharmacies only operating between 06:00 and 17:00.
Restrictions on movement were previously in place from 10:00 to 16:00 and again between 20:00 to 06:00. These timings had been criticised, including by Prishtina mayor Shpend Ahmeti, in part due to overcrowding at supermarkets following curfew hours.
“The decision on the restriction hours should be reviewed as soon as possible,” Ahmeti stated on Facebook on Friday. “One more day will be a problem.”
The number of confirmed cases of people testing positive for coronavirus in Kosovo has risen from 31 to 88 in the past week, with 991 suspected samples having been tested since February 8.
Epidemiologist Valbon Krasniqi told the media on Friday that 34 people that have tested positive for the coronavirus were being treated at the Infectious Disease Clinic in Prishtina, which has 126 beds. Krasniqi added that eight cases were more serious, with patients requiring ventilators.
Among the cases confirmed by the National Institute of Public Health this week was a resident of Dobratin near Lipjan, the first member of the Kosovo Serb community to test positive for the coronavirus.
Although Kosovo authorities have banned all incoming flights to Prishtina International Airport and closed land borders to all non-Kosovo citizens, transport has been arranged for Kosovo citizens wishing to return.
All returnees are being quarantined for 14 days at the Student Centre of the University of Prishtina. Director of the center, Fatmir Sfishta, told the media on Friday that 357 people had been admitted so far.
In a Facebook post announcing the return of another 55 citizens on Friday, Acting Minister of Infrastructure Lumir Abdixhiku, pleaded with citizens not to return to Kosovo unless it was strictly necessary.
“I beg Kosovo citizens who do not have an urgent need to return, not to appear at our embassies around the world,” Abdixhiku said. “As a new country we need your help – and patience. You could stay at home anywhere in the world.”
Schools in the country will also remain closed for the foreseeable future, after Kosovo’s acting government extended a previous decision to halt the educational process at all levels of education until a future decision is made. On March 11, responding to the spread of coronavirus, the Kosovo Government closed all public and private schools.
On March 23, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology launched an online learning platform for Mathematics and Albanian Literature. Classes for grades one to five are also being broadcast on RTK.
28 March 2020 - 12:51
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