Clinic of Infectious Disease at the University Clinical Centre of Kosovo. Photo: Fatrion Ibrahimi/BIRN.

Three citizens returning from London test positive for coronavirus

Supermarkets reduce opening hours, arrests continue for violating government measures and the central bank permits suspension of loan repayments as Kosovo responds to the coronavirus outbreak, with 16 cases now confirmed.

As of Tuesday morning, three more cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Kosovo, with three citizens testing positive for SARS-COV-2 on Monday after being screened at Prishtina International Airport. All three citizens were returning to Kosovo from London. 

According to the National Institute for Public Health, between 8 February and 16 March, 271 samples have been tested for coronavirus with 16 positive results, while more than 10,000 people have been screened at Prishtina International Airport.

Two of the newly confirmed cases are reported to be a young couple, both 26, one from the Municipality of Obilic and the other from the village of Korishe near Prizren. 

According to Salih Ahmeti of the Infectious Disease Clinic, both were sent home to be quarantined, as neither were showing severe symptoms. Ahmeti added that teams are testing other people with whom these two patients made contact.  

While the epidemic has seen the closure of the majority of businesses in Kosovo, supermarkets, which are obliged to remain open, have been under strain since the outbreak began. 

A retail network made up of the country’s biggest supermarket chains, including Albi, Interex, Meridian, Superviva, and Viva Fresh Store announced reduced service hours on Monday in order to ease the burden on staff. 

From Tuesday, these supermarkets will open 12 hours a day, from 08:00-20:00. The retail network also guaranteed that a continuous supply of food and essential products will be maintained. 

Meanwhile, all incoming flights to Prishtina International Airport have been suspended since Tuesday morning, though some outbound flights continue to operate. 

According to the airport, 10 flights will operate on Tuesday, with six to Zurich, two to Stuttgart, and one each to Munich and Istanbul. The airport has encouraged passengers to contact flight operators for further details.

Government measures designed to prevent the spread of the virus implemented on Friday remain in force, including the closure of cafes, bars and restaurants. 

Numerous arrests have been made for individuals not adhering to the measures. Following eight arrests on Sunday, a hotel owner was arrested in Podujevo on Monday night, while two people in Peja were detained in two separate incidents.

Following Minister of Economy Rozeta Hajdari’s message that inspections are underway regarding businesses raising prices during the epidemic, Minister of Justice Albulena Haxhiu has also spoken out against workers being forced to take annual leave as a result of government measures.

“This is a violation of Government decisions,” Haxhiu stated in a Facebook post. “This is a criminal offence and punishable, because such circumstances should not be misused by anyone.”

Haxhiu encouraged any employee that considers their rights to have been violated to contact the labour inspectorate on a free telephone number (0800 77 5 77) or by email ([email protected]).

The Kosovo Central Bank, KCB, meanwhile has permitted loan repayments to be suspended for both individuals and businesses until at least 30 April due to the epidemic, with plans to extend this date depending on the situation. 

For borrowers making credit repayments that are facing financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the KCB has introduced the option to make a request for suspension of repayments. Requests are set to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, while the KCB stated that no measures to diminish borrowers’ credit ratings would be taken during the epidemic. 

Prime Minister Albin Kurti also addressed citizens in a video released on Monday, stating that the situation is temporary and normality will return soon. 

“These days the safest place is at home. Let us protect ourselves and protect each other,” Kurti said in the video. “I’m very proud of everyone mobilising to prevent the spread of coronavirus.”

17/03/2020 - 11:29


17 March 2020 - 11:29

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.