Coronavirus: in the Balkans, the pandemic grows, the anxiety rises

Coronavirus: dans les Balkans, la pandémie croît, l’inquiétude monte

The figures are seemingly modest, but the resurgence of the pandemic of sars coronavirus is there: the anxiety rises in the Balkans, a poor region of Europe to medical facilities fragile.

Following this acceleration, several european countries have established or maintained the travel restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians: quarantine of 14 days or negative test required upon check-in.

In Serbia, the situation is “worse than in April, especially in Belgrade, where the health system is at saturation,” warns on the national channel RTS Predrag Kon, epidemiologist, member of the crisis unit of the country which has announced a record 18 deaths on Friday. The management of the pandemic by the government, deemed to be failing, there now causes of events each evening.

The patron of the trade unions of the health sector in the neighbouring Kosovo, Blerim Syla, warns that without action, this small territory poor 2 million people “will become the Wuhan of the Balkans”, and predicted a “collapse of the health system”, already badly in point: for health care, the people of Kosovo have the habit of making their neighbours.

Member of the european Union, Croatia seems to be less vulnerable and the situation there is “not bad” but the cases are increasing at a time when the tourist season begins, according to the microbiologist, Goran Lauc, a member of the science team, which advises the government.

Fragility sanitary

Figures (8 dead Friday in Kosovo, 500 new cases in Bosnia on the 6th of July, 700 in Romania on the 11th…), are not yet of a nature to alarm the international community in this region relatively untouched by the wave of the spring, where the epidemic has killed a total of less than 3 500 people.

But of Romania in Albania, through Kosovo, Bosnia and Bulgaria, the records have succeeded in the past week: those of the dead daily like those of the new cases identified. On July 10, according to a count by the AFP, as these countries are constrained to 15% of the new cases detected on the day in Europe, and they represent less than 7% of the population.

However, their health systems don’t seem equipped to deal with a pandemic wave similar to that which engulfed a part of Europe in the spring.

According to the Organization for world health, when Italy account for 4.1 doctors per 1 000 inhabitants, Albania has 1.2 –the lowest rate in Europe– Bosnia 2 and Romania with 2.2. In Kosovo, according to Blerim Syla, there is a lack 5.500 health professionals.

In Belgrade, a protester, Petar Djuric, has become a symbol of the protests by shouting out his anger, facing the camera, his father being, according to him who died for lack of respirator available.

In Albania, who deplores about 90 deaths, the authorities ensure that the situation remains “under control”. But “citizens must understand that the solution is not the treatment at the hospital where we are doing the impossible to provide health care to those seriously affected”, said the hospital’s director of infectious diseases at Tirana.

Déconfinement fast

The mistrust towards the political class and the chronic political instability of the region does not help.

Fragile governments manage the crisis in Kosovo and northern Macedonia, the Balkan countries the most mournful in proportion to its population (176 deaths per million inhabitants), where parliamentary elections are to be held this week.

The Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic is paying him to have recklessly proclaimed a victory over the virus just before the parliamentary elections, to announce this week a return to the confinemement for the weekend and finally back in the face of protests…

For many, the Balkans have experienced a déconfinement too fast and too radical, which has resulted in a loosening of the behaviors.

In Serbia, clubs and bars and have a time reopened as if nothing had happened, continues sometimes to shake hands as a greeting. As to the orthodox macedonians, they were able to respect the tradition of the easter communion with distribution of wine in a small spoon…

“The lack of respect for the rules of social distancing has fostered a high level of transmission of the virus, which manifests itself more aggressively,” cautions Eugena Tomini, of the Albanian Institute of public Health.

“We déconfiné too rapidly,” summary on Friday, the minister of Health in romania Nelu Tataru.

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