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15 Apr 2020 | 04:14 AM UTC

Kosovo: Restrictions on movement strengthened April 15 /update 2

Government tightens restrictions on movement amid COVID-19 pandemic starting on April 15; abide by authority directives

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Event

On Monday, April 13, Health Minister Arben Vitia announced that the existing movement restrictions will be strengthened in an effort to contain further spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). As of Wednesday, April 15, individuals over the age of 16 are prohibited from leaving their homes for more than 90 minutes a day. Affected individuals will receive a time slot depending on their ID or passport number. The measure will be in effect until at least Sunday, May 3. Anyone violating the restriction will face a EUR 1000 fine. This decision comes as the government forecast an increase in COVID-19 cases in the coming days.

Movement restrictions were introduced on Tuesday, March 24. As such, individuals are not allowed to leave their homes except for essential needs and work-related reasons. A number of municipalities across the country have also been placed under quarantine. All schools, non-essential businesses such as cafes, bars, restaurants, and shopping centers remain closed, and public gatherings remain suspended.

Public transport remains restricted, and land border crossing points remain closed to non-Kosovo citizens. Authorities in Kosovo canceled all flights into the country effective Monday, March 16, according to diplomatic sources, while all departing flights are expected to be severely disrupted.

As of April 15, there are 387 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide. Further spread of the virus is expected in the near term.

Context

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) declared the global outbreak a 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.

Advice

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 nonessential 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 COVID-19 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 disease.