Bosnian capital tightens rules as COVID-19 deaths rise


The Bosnian capital is tightening measures against the novel coronavirus as authorities struggle to deal with rising infections and skyrocketing deaths from COVID-19.

Sarajevo has mourned dozens of victims this month, as daily new cases in Bosnia have risen from a few hundred to over 1,700 this week. Twenty-one new deaths were reported in the capital on Friday alone.

“This is an unarmed war,” said an elderly resident who identified himself only by his first name, Hajrudin.

In the streets, lines of death notices are placed on the main mosque and people cried while praying in the old part of the city, where thousands of people were killed in a siege of war in 1992 -95. Another Sarajevan, Ekrem, said the situation was a “disaster”.

The Balkan nation of 3.3 million has seen the virus rise after easing restrictive measures and keeping its ski resorts open during the winter, unlike most parts of Europe. Many parts of central and eastern Europe are experiencing an outbreak of new infections that experts attribute to more transmissible virus variants like the one first found in Britain.

To counter this trend, the Sarajevo cantonal government has decided to impose a nighttime curfew from Friday evening, while the city’s lively bars and restaurants will be closed on Saturday, except for food delivery. .

Authorities cited the “dramatically worsened” epidemiological situation in the city as the reason for the lockdown. Those who break the rules will be punished.

“We call on citizens to help us implement the measures,” said Arman Sarkric, of the Sarajevo virus crisis team.

In total, Bosnia has reported around 150,000 cases of infections and more than 5,000 deaths – among the highest death rates in the region. Experts say this is in part because Bosnia’s healthcare system remains weak decades after the war.

The growing number of patients in recent days has put pressure on hospitals in Sarajevo, with the main one – the university clinic – warning that it is running out of space.

The Sarajevo morgue was also overwhelmed. Coffins containing the bodies of COVID-19 victims line the concrete floor as workers in protective gear spray them with disinfectant. In a cemetery on the outskirts of town, lines of freshly dug graves can be seen.

At Sarajevo General Hospital, Dr Bilal Oglecevac said his team’s work was like a constant war on the virus.

“Sometimes we win the battles, sometimes, unfortunately, we lose,” he said.


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