Health News

Bosnian federation introduces curfew as COVID-19 cases rise

SARAJEVO/BELGRADE (Reuters) - Bosnia’s autonomous Bosniak-Croat Federation will introduce an 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew from Wednesday after a sharp rise in coronavirus cases and deaths, officials said on Tuesday.

Bosnia, which also includes the autonomous Serb Republic, reported 1,605 new COVID-19 infections and 46 deaths on Tuesday, with a 9% rise from the same day last week. The country of about 3.3 million people has recorded 65,024 coronavirus cases in total and 1,629 deaths.

“The number of patients on ventilators rose 44% and the number of deaths was up 33% when compared to the last week (within the Bosniak-Croat Federation),” said Goran Cerkez, the region’s assistant health minister.

Cerkez criticised political parties for campaigning ahead of local elections on Sunday, saying rallies and other gatherings were unacceptable given the resurgent pandemic.

After warning earlier that medical workers were overstretched and the health system could collapse, the ministry also restricted gatherings inside and outside to 30 people.

In neighbouring Serbia, health authorities reported a record 2,823 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and urged people to avoid indoor gatherings, wear masks and maintain distance as hospitals rapidly fill with patients.

The Serbian parliament is set to vote on Friday on amending a law on protection from contagious diseases that would allow authorities to fine people for not wearing face masks.

Serbia has recorded 66,888 coronavirus infections and 915 deaths.

Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic in Sarajevo and Aleksandar Vasovic in Belgrade; Editing by Catherine Evans