KATHIMERINI: “Coronavirus storm” in the Balkans as well


In Montenegro, President Milo Djukanovic declared the country “covid free” in early June, ahead of the tourist and election season in Tirana, Prime Minister Edi Rama claimed the title of “European champion” in terms of approach of the health crisis.

Serbian leader Aleksandar Vučić has decided that he must open stadiums and cafes to fill the ballot box with ballots for his party, and in Romania, as in Bulgaria, the authorities did not pay attention when their seasonal workers began to return. thousands of affected European countries.

And while everyone was preparing, being considered “clean”, the suitcases for the holidays in Greece, which, in turn, was waiting for the Balkan “oxygen mouth” for its tourism, a “coronavirus storm” broke out again, which unleashes from the Adriatic to the Black Sea and from the Carpathians to the Rhodope Mountains, threatening to “dangerously” invade the Greek shores and beyond.

Cases are growing exponentially, as are deaths, the resilience of fragile health systems is reaching its limits, and governments are working to prevent the spread of the virus to the general population, which is already causing political unrest.

In Belgrade, Serbs took to the streets and squares, chanting against Vučić for lying to him about the health situation. In his election speeches in northern Macedonia, the opposition leader accused Zoran Zaev of not caring about the health of the citizens, in Sofia, thousands of Bulgarians, exhausted by the measures taken, demonstrate daily in the center of the capital, and in Bucharest the government and the opposition have disputes about the possibility of reintroducing new ones
austerity measures.

Three hundred and fifty cases were registered in just 24 hours (Wednesday) in tiny Montenegro, with a population of 600,000, as well as in Serbia, on Friday, six people died in Bulgaria of COVID-19 and 232 cases were quarantined, 192 infections were detected in northern Macedonia exactly on the day of the parliamentary elections, and in Albania, with the relaxation of the measures, in mid-June, three
or more deaths (101 in total) than during the peak of the pandemic (March-May).

Governments, led by Serbia, where the epicenter of the Balkan epidemiological cyclone is located, are trying, through measures such as wearing a mask, banning mass rallies and local quarantine of cities and regions where the virus is spreading rapidly, to prevent the spread of the epidemic. avoid a generalized lockdown for the time being.

What went wrong now that the Balkan neighbors, who proudly presented their data on the low to insignificant spread of the virus, got into a COVID-19 storm? Everything shows that the political elites rushed to relax the strict measures they took from the beginning, except in Serbia, where President Vučić trivialized the “ridiculous virus”, urging citizens to drink “some brandy” (!) fight in a timely manner.

Almost all countries (Croatia, Serbia, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia) have had or are looking forward to elections, and the elections are not going well with bans and quarantine in the Balkans, just as football championships do not go without microbes.

The day after Vucic’s election victory was held in Belgrade, attended by thousands of party supporters embracing and without wearing masks, two of his ministers and the speaker of parliament were tested positive for coronavirus.

In Montenegro, the coronavirus reappeared in an explosive form, according to local media, after the return of hundreds of microbes who crossed the border into Serbia to watch a football match, while in Sofia, Boiko Borisov, after interrupting the information The daily life of the citizens regarding the epidemiological situation, allowed the organization of the CSKA-Lokomotiv match, with the participation of 10,000 microbes, of course, without any protection measures.

It was not, however, just electoral opportunism. The anemic economies of these countries could not stand any longer, nor the people trapped / locked in the matchboxes of the time of Tito, Hoxha and Ceausescu, while conspiracy theories galloping on social networks around the virus fueled the impatience of citizens to lifting measures.

In Bulgaria alone, in a poll, one million people said they were sure the virus did not exist or that it was manufactured! In addition to all this, hundreds of thousands of seasonal workers have returned to their homeland from countries such as Italy, Britain, Germany, where the coronavirus has slaughtered.


The next step was that with the opening of Greek borders for road tourism, the coronavirus would enter the Promachonas with Balkan tourists to reach the coast and islands, but also thousands of seasonal workers from Albania, Bulgaria and Romania, reaching the fields. from Macedonia and Thrace.

An analysis of the daily geographical distribution carried out by the Greek Public Health Authority (Voria.gr) shows that, between 1-15 July, 507 new cases were confirmed in the country, of which 278 are imported from abroad and 229 are domestic cases. . Of the total number of domestic cases, namely 229 new infections, 148 were detected in areas of Macedonia and Thrace, where newly arrived foreigners work in agriculture.


Translation: Carolina Ciulu, RADOR


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