Kosovo’s government announced new special measures on Friday evening, following the announcement of the first two confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country.
A third confirmed case was announced by Minister of Health Arben Vitia on Saturday.
The tightened restrictions follow similar measures taken in many countries throughout Europe, and effectively place the country on lockdown.
Public transport between towns and cities has been suspended, as has organized international land transportation. Kosovo’s land borders have been closed for foreign citizens entering the country; Kosovo citizens can still enter, but will be subject to increased medical tests and will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
All flights are set to be suspended from 00:00 on Monday (March 16), with the exception of military or medical flights; after this time, airlines are still permitted to operate if they choose to, but only to fly people out of Kosovo, not with incoming passengers; flights from Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland have already been suspended.
Meanwhile, all bars, cafes, restaurants, shopping malls, and animal and vehicle markets have been closed — pharmacies and stores selling food are exempt and will remain open.
The measures also suspend all cultural and sporting events, which had already been curtailed following restrictions introduced by the government earlier in the week.
Public institutions, with the exception of medical and security institutions, are limiting their work to essential actions and essential staff. Meanwhile, private companies are expected to organize their work so that the majority of activities can be performed by staff from home.
Targeted measures have also been applied to the municipalities of Klina and Vitia, where the first two confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kosovo came from; the third person confirmed to have the virus is also from Vitia. The government decision on Friday suspends exit and entry to the two municipalities.
The first two people confirmed to have the virus are a 77-year-old Kosovar man and a 20-year-old Italian woman. Both are being treated at the Infectious Disease Clinic in Prishtina’s University Clinical Center of Kosovo and their conditions are reported to be “stable.”
In announcing the two confirmed cases on Friday evening, Minister of Health Vitia said that steps have been taken to begin tracking all the people that the two patients have been in contact with. The results of 90 new tests are due to be announced at 14:00 on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Albin Kurti set to reassure people that the confirmed cases were not a cause to panic, but that everyone should exercise renewed caution and follow the guidelines and preventive measures recommended by health institutions and the government.
“The preparations are wide and maximal — all together we will succeed in this battle,” he said.
“Do not show up to the Infectious Disease Clinic if you have signs of the disease. There is a helpline where everyone with difficulty breathing, coughing, fever etc., as well as those who have traveled or have been in contact with someone who has been confirmed or suspected to have been infected.”
If you think you are experiencing symptoms, the number to call for information or consultation is 038/200-80-800.
Naser Ramadani, director of Kosovo’s National Institute of Public Health said on Saturday that more than 500 calls had already been answered by the helpline teams, who had answered every question, even those not related to COVID19.
Kurti also reminded people to “avoid shaking hands, to stay more than one meter away from each other when you meet, and to wash hands with warm water and soap for more than 30 seconds.”K
Feature image: Tringë Sokoli / K2.0.