On Saturday, March 28, the government announced that all Serbian citizens, as well as foreigners with a residence permit, who entered the country on or after Saturday, March 14, are obliged to extend their mandatory home self-isolation from 14 to 28 days, in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Authorities also announced that individuals will be prohibited from leaving their homes from 15:00 to 05:00 (local time) on Saturdays and Sundays. As of Monday, March 30, a nationwide curfew has also been imposed from 17:00 to 05:00 on weekdays, except for those working nightshifts. Special hours at shops have been 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 have been closed to foreign nationals. 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 Monday, March 30, health officials have confirmed 741 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.
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