Kosovo recorded its highest number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Monday as 195 people tested positive for the coronavirus. The majority of those cases, 102, were in Prishtina.
The latest numbers come a day after the government introduced new restrictive measures in an attempt to tackle the pandemic as cases have risen sharply in recent weeks. The weekend also saw new record numbers in Kosovo, with both the highest number of fatalities and confirmed new cases in a single weekend since the beginning of the pandemic in mid-March.
Seventeen COVID-19 patients are reported to have died in the country’s hospitals during the weekend; after a further four deaths on Monday, the total number of fatalities of people with confirmed COVID-19 now stands at 79. With Monday’s record numbers adding to more than 300 confirmed new cases over the weekend, Kosovo’s Institute for Public Health says there are now over 1,600 active cases across the country.
The new government measures range from a citizen curfew at night in four municipalities, to new regulations for the operation of bars, while health institutions are also to be reorganized and have been given new priorities.
Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti also said that the government will start regularly reporting on what is happening inside the Infectious Disease Clinic at the University Clinical Center of Kosovo (QKUK) to show people “exactly what those people who are affected by COVID-19 are suffering from,” after citing a survey that suggested 30% of Kosovars don’t believe the coronavirus exists.
Minister of Health Armend Zemaj said on Monday that the implementation of the new measures is “not by desire, but by the imperative of the situation created by [people] disrespecting the [restriction] easing measures.”
Measures introduced from July 6
As QKUK’s Infectious Disease Clinic has reportedly passed its capacities for admitting new patients and other clinics and regional hospitals are seeing rising numbers of hospitalizations, the government decided in its virtual meeting on Sunday (July 5) to reorganize clinics and to allocate more beds and medical equipment to treat affected patients.
The decision obliges the Ministry of Health and other responsible institutions to mobilize medical staff across the country, including those who are not currently active in the profession, and to reorganize health staff with a focus on COVID-19 patients.
It comes as healthcare workers have warned that Kosovo doesn’t have sufficient staff to treat the rising number of COVID-19 patients. Blerim Syla, head of the Health Workers’ Union, told Radio Free Europe on Sunday (July 5) that healthcare staff are “exhausted and overwhelmed.”
“I don’t want to spread panic that the situation is getting out of control, but I can say that we are getting beyond our capacities,” he said.