On Tuesday, March 17, President Aleksandar Vucic announced that the government will implement an overnight curfew in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). As of Wednesday, March 18, from 20:00 to 05:00 (local time), a nationwide curfew has been put in place, except for those working nightshifts. Furthermore, as of 10:00 on Wednesday, all persons over 65 in urban areas and over 70 in towns with less than 5000 inhabitants are forbidden from leaving their homes. Local authorities will bring food to the affected individuals and special hours at shops might be allocated to the elderly in order to purchase necessary items.
On Sunday, March 15, the Serbian government declared a state of emergency. As a result, Serbian borders were closed to foreign nationals on Sunday evening. Exceptions will reportedly be made for diplomats and full-time residents. Soldiers have also been deployed to guard hospitals while all educational institutions have been closed.
As of Wednesday, March 18, health officials have confirmed 72 COVID-19 cases nationwide. Further spread of the virus is expected in the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) labelled the outbreak as pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone non-essential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.