Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Balkans: Number of coronavirus cases rises

More than 500 people test positive for COVID-19 in Western Balkans

Talha Ozturk  | 17.03.2020 - Update : 18.03.2020
Balkans: Number of coronavirus cases rises


Number of confirmed cases of new coronavirus in Western Balkan countries continues to rise.

Nearly 500 people in the region have tested positive for the virus, with three reported deaths, one in Albania and two in Bulgaria.

All countries in the region declared a “high epidemic risk” and introduced new measures in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus known as COVID-19.

Some countries banned large gatherings and imposed travel restrictions.

Serbia on Sunday declared a state of emergency to stem the spread of the virus in the country.

"Dear citizens, Serbia is at war today against an invisible and dangerous opponent which our country must defeat... We are now in a state of emergency," President Aleksandar Vucic said.

The country also closed its borders to foreigners, while education at schools and colleges were suspended and sports halls and gyms are closed.

Homeschooling programs in Serbia have started on Tuesday morning.

Serbia has so far 65 confirmed cases, with 34 patients under hospital treatment, while 31 of them under home treatment, and four on respirators due to breathing problems.

Case number in Slovenia -- which borders Italy, the worst-hit country in Europe -- rose to 253. A total of 6,712 tests have been applied, and the country faced its first death from the virus on Saturday.

The government on Monday issued a decree banning passenger flights in Slovenia.

The move resulted in many Slovenian passengers to stay stranded at airports abroad.

Russia has offered to take Slovenian tourists from Russia back to their home for free as their aircraft picked up Russian tourists in Slovenia.

Coronavirus cases in Croatia rose to 65, while four people have recovered, and a total of 1,014 people tested in Croatia so far.

In Albania, which discovered its first case of coronavirus last week, the number of cases reached 51. Among the confirmed cases, the capital Tirana has the largest number, 34.

Prime Minister Edi Rama said the Albanian government is preparing to order a total ban on pensioners leaving home until this “war” is over.

To help stem the spread of the virus, all schools across Albania have suspended classes until March 23.

Meanwhile, measures continue to be taken in Montenegro which is the only country in Europe with no registered cases.

The Islamic Union of Montenegro has announced that Friday and time prayers will not be held in mosques across the country to mitigate the spread of the virus.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, a total of 26 cases were reported as of Tuesday.

Kosovo on Friday confirmed its first cases, a 20-year-old Italian woman and a 77-year-old Kosovar man. The virus has later spread to 13 people as of Tuesday.

Also, Bulgaria’s Health Minister Kiril Ananiev announced a temporary ban on entry into Bulgaria from 16 countries, following the confirmation of 62 cases.

The ban comes into force at midnight on March 18.

COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China last December, and has spread to at least 152 countries and territories. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a pandemic.

Out of 186,500 confirmed cases, the death toll now exceeds 7,400, while over 80,500 patients have recovered, according to Worldometer, a website that compiles new case numbers.

The current number of active cases is more than 98,600 -- 93% mild and 7% in critical condition.

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