Health Minister Venko Filipce announced on Thursday, June 4, that restrictions on movement would be reintroduced until Monday, June 8, in Skopje and other parts of the country where infection rates are high due to a rise in cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19). A curfew will be in place from 21:00 (local time) on Thursday until 05:00 on Monday. The restrictions apply to the capital and the cities of Tetovo, Kumanovo, and Stip. The measures will also be in place in the rural municipalities of Lipkovo, Bogovinje, Brvenica, Tearce, Zhelino, Jegunovce, and Karbinci. Residents will only be allowed to leave their homes for medical reasons. The reintroduction of lockdown measures came after a daily record high of 101 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were recorded over the previous 24 hours on Wednesday, June 3. A nationwide curfew had been lifted on May 27.
On Sunday, May 31, President Stevo Pendarovski extended the country's state of emergency for a further 14 days until June 13. The state of emergency was initially declared on March 18 and has been extended several times. Effective from May 28, some restaurants, bars, and cafes that have a courtyard or outside area have been allowed to open so long as social distancing measures can be followed. Some businesses have been allowed to reopen, including some shops in shopping malls, betting establishments, and grocery stores. They are operating with reduced working hours and limits are placed on the number of people entering shopping facilities at any time. Other businesses including education and training centers for adults, as well as exam centers and driving schools, and outdoor individual sports practices have been allowed to resume work with appropriate health and safety measures in place.
Citizens of North Macedonia can only move around in public places in groups of no more than two people; however, children under the age of 14 can socialize in larger groups so long as they are accompanied by a parent in the group of two. The use of face masks is compulsory in public places where a two-meter distance cannot be maintained, including indoor gatherings, such as markets, shops, banks, post offices, health institutions, and on public transportation. A ban on all large public gatherings and on the entry of foreign nationals remains in place.
All border crossings in North Macedonia are closed to foreign nationals, except for freight vehicles, diplomatic personnel, and foreigners with long-term stay permits. Skopje International Airport (SKP) and Ohrid St. Paul the Apostle Airport (OHD) remain closed for all passenger flights.
As of Friday, June 5, health authorities have confirmed 2611 COVID-19 cases and 147 associated deaths in the country. Further spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
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 trouble 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 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 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.
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