Coronavirus in Albania: Cases continue to rise

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 17, 2020 22:35

Coronavirus in Albania: Cases continue to rise

Tirana, March 17 - The number of people with coronavirus in Albania continues to rise, but at a slower pace. 

The Ministry of Health announced on Tuesday, four new cases, all in Tirana, of which two are medical staff of the "Shefqet Ndroqi" hospital. In total, the number of Covid-19 patients is 55; nine are doctors and nurses, the vast majority from "Shefqet Ndroqi" hospital, where a patient was hospitalized last week and was visited by a relative who returned from Italy. 

“From the investigation, 89 medical staff was tested in 'Shefqet Ndroqi' Hospital and 8 of them were positive, doctors and nurses. It should be said that everyone is in good health and self-quarantined,” Silva Bino, head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Institute of Public Health said.

In the evening the Ministry of Health informed that the first test of the first contact of patient 0 in Albania was negative and person is on his way of healing. Further tests need to be carried on, to confirm he is completely coronavirus-free.

Coronavirus outbreak map remains the same, including 6 cities, with Tirana leading with 38 cases, followed by Fier with 6 cases, Durres with 5 cases (one of whom died), and Lushnja, Elbasan and Rrogozhina with 2 cases each. 

At the Infectious Diseases Hospital of Tirana, 25 patients have been hospitalized in the morning (from Tirana, Durres, Elbasan, Fier, Lushja and Rrogozhina). 

“Three of them are in intensive care, while the rest are in stable condition until now," Bino said, adding that "Shefqet Ndroqi" Hospital will be transformed into a COVID-19 Hospital, to assist the Infectious Diseases Hospital. The Ministry of Health is taking measures to replace staff with over 2,200 volunteers -medical staff- who responded to a call by the authorities to help."

In the past few days there has been a significant decrease in the number of tests compared to the days after the first cases with coronavirus were announced. 

Albanian authorities have explained that in a pandemic situation, tests are carried out for genuine suspected cases and close contacts. Bino informed that “all the cases tested were of suspected persons. We are trying to break the transmission chain of infection. This is where the work of the whole service is concentrated at this moment."

The European Union Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said on Tuesday that the bloc is ready to support the Western Balkans in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The EU itself is dealing with the pandemic with member states, Italy, Germany Spain and France reporting increasing numbers of infected and deaths. 

Montenegro announced on Tuesday the first two cases of coronavirus, and Covid-19 cases were also reported in Kosovo (19) and North Macedonia (31). Albania’s neighbor countries have closed borders with each other, and with other countries affected, as a measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. North Macedonia postponed the elections that were due to take place on April, 12. No new date has been announced. 

In a video conference with the prime ministers of the region, organized by the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, Commissioner Varhelyi, said that "we are exploring options to help the region mitigate the social-economic impact of the pandemic, including exploring opportunities to reorient funding through IPA (Pre-Accession Instruments) and to show flexibility in state aid rules." IPA funds are used for governance reforms, rule of law, environment, energy, education and employment.

Albania has suspended flights to and from Italy, Greece, the UK, while Austrian Airlines announced the termination of all of its flights, including Tirana. Ferries were also suspended. Last week, Albania halted passenger transport from all neighboring countries. 

President Ilir Meta announced he tested negative for coronavirus as he met a person in a gym, who tested positive. 

The country is in lockdown. Cars are banned all over Albania, with some exceptions, and people are banned going out after 06:00pm. Public transportation is suspended. 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 17, 2020 22:35