Prishtina, 29 June 2020
Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Avdullah Hoti and Minister of Health, Armend Zemaj, attended the meeting of the Committee for Coordination and Assessment of the Emergency Situation with Coronavirus.
After the meeting, Prime Minister Hoti and Minister Zemaj held a press conference, revealing that they have discussed in details with all persons responsible within institutions for the situation that our country is experiencing, in particular in recent days.
“Allow me to be very clear and straightforward to you and citizens: We cannot allow that the situation gets out of control. The lives of citizens are above all, our first priority. 49 cases have ended in fatality. Infectious Disease Clinic is overcrowded; there is no room for more people. Minister, Director of the Institute and the Director of KUCC are creating additional spaces in other clinics and regional hospitals,” stated Prime Minister Hoti.
He stated that measures are very simple and clear: masks, physical distance, hand washing, three simple measures that all of us are obliged to undertake.
Full speech of Prime Minister Hoti in the conference:
We have convened with the Minister of Health and Director of Institute, following the meeting of the Committee responsible to manage the situation resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. We discussed in details with all persons responsible within institutions for the situation we are experiencing, in particular in recent days. Allow me to be very clear and straightforward to you and citizens: We cannot allow that the situation gets out of control. Lives of citizens are above all, our first priority. 49 cases have ended in fatality. The Infectious Disease Clinic is overcrowded; there is no room for more people.
Minister, Director of the Institute and the Director of KUCC are creating additional spaces in other clinics and regional hospitals.
Measures are simple, very simple and clear: masks, physical distance and hand washing, three simple measures. All of us are obliged to undertake these measures when we walk on the street, travel by bus, travel to work, businesses premises, at the market, pharmacy, everywhere.
Anyone not implementing these measures commits a criminal offence because he/she risks his/her health and life and of other citizens.
So far, the number of COVID-19 cases totals to 2.677, of which 113 cases have been hospitalized and six are in severe health condition. Health staff is engaging maximally. Based on the digits of categories mostly infected, 8 percent of total cases are doctors and other health staff because they are at the frontline.
All of us are at risk, all institutions are at risk and risk at institutions, businesses and street is spread at home, our children and parents. Situation is under fragile control and all of us should work harder to keep the situation under control and manage the emerging cases.
We discussed in details the measures to be undertaken immediately in the coming meeting of the Government, whether executive decisions are necessary, ranging from the reduction of staff in institutions who can work from home, where persons responsible within institutions should release them to work from home.
All sectors and various departments in businesses or institutions where cases have emerged will be immediately closed.
Bodies responsible for maintaining order should ensure the isolation of infected people. They pose risk for our citizens. Local headquarters should be immediately activated. Many of municipalities are active, but their level of activation should be increased.
Sanitary Inspectorate will undertake all necessary measures, in compliance with the law. Law on Prevention of Infectious Diseases clearly states measures to be undertaken, punitive measures, in streets, businesses and institutions. Inspectors will be engaged 24 h by walking on the street, cafeterias and pharmacies. Persons not wearing masks will be punished in compliance with the law.
We are considering whether we should undertake measures for putting some of locations with the highest number of infected cases in quarantine. We will prohibit the gathering of more than 100 persons in open or closed spaces at any situation. Only close family members should attend burial rituals, as the earlier practice.
All authorizations will be delegated to the Police to oversee the implementation of measures for protection from this pandemic during the traffic control. We have made all state resources available to the inspectorate by swiftly increasing the number of inspectors, but also transferring inspectors from other sectors to the Sanitary Inspectorate, which is authorized by law to undertake all necessary actions for those who do not implement measure for protection against COVID-19. Also, due to the health staff workload, we were required to increase capacities with additional nurses.
Pursuant to the applicable laws, in few days we will engage 100 new nurses, who will work in clinics treating these cases.
We will also work to further strengthen medical teams at border crossing points to ensure as much as possible, in accordance with the protocols developed by the WHO and the European Commission, that we control entries within the country.
These are the measures that we will take immediately in the relevant ministries, relevant institutions, and in the next meeting of the government, in order to keep the situation under control.
This is the message I want to convey today clearly, directly to all citizens: We are in risk of having the second wave. Help us so that we do not have to shut down the economy completely, as happened three months ago.
Minister Zemaj’s full speech at the conference:
The Ministry of Health is engaged in managing the situation with all its potentials, including other health services that are considered a need for the citizens of our Republic.
Given that we are already in the third phase of the gradual economic opening and most activities have been allowed to function, this has also resulted in an increase in the number of positive cases with COVID-19, for which we cannot say that it was unexpected, but which has unfortunately resulted in an increase in the number of patients seeking hospital treatment at the Infectious Diseases Clinic. All of this was as a result of failure to comply with the measures taken, i.e. by businesses and other permitted activities, but also by citizens, as well as failure to comply with the Handbook against COVID-19.
Failure to comply with the measures shows that the implied trust as a condition for opening between institutions, businesses and citizens, has not been translated into responsibility after the decisions for full opening and permitting of various activities.
Aiming to provide businesses affected by the pandemics with more opportunities and some “breathing” room, we have recently opened regular airline flights which started from yesterday, and other activities are also planned to be opened.
But, if the opening of these activities and others, is not accompanied at the same time by increasing responsibility in the implementation of measures, raising the monitoring to a higher level by all supervisory and implementing institutions, such as inspectorates, the dilemma that will be posed before us will be whether it is worth further opening, and taking the measures that the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo rightly mentioned.
We as the Ministry of Health have taken measures to strengthen the capacities in parallel with the opening: the new respiratory services provided by the EU and Qatar, and several others are in the process, both from the partners and from the budget of the MoH; we have activated three other clinics at UCCK (Pulmo, Derma and Sports Medicine) to assist the Infectious Diseases Clinic; we have also activated infectious wards in general hospitals to reduce the flow of patients coming to Prishtina; we have published and distributed the manual with instructions for opened activities, in three languages; we are preparing a new testing strategy in order to perform mass testing; we have prepared and published, together with the partners and the Office of the Prime Minister, informative and promotional materials regarding the implementation of anti-COVID-19 measures; we are finalizing the update of the Clinical Protocol of COVID-19 treatment in the Infectious Diseases Clinic and at the same time, we have strengthened the cooperation of the Municipalities through concrete visits and regional public health centres to be closely informed with their work, capacities and needs.
However, all these actions may not bring the expected results, in case any of the components in the operation, both at the central and local level does not work properly or does not fulfil its responsibilities.
Therefore, today we made these presentations and asked the relevant institutions for the management of pandemics that the measures which have been put by the Ministry of Health and the National Institute of Public Health, and which have become mandatory by the Government of the Republic of Kosovo, be implemented, otherwise, we will have other consequences which, in my opinion, and that of everyone else in the meeting, might send us back to what we don’t want.
The Ministry of Health, with all its capacities and relevant institutions, is doing its best to avoid isolation measures. So please help us. Help yourself, follow the recommendations, wear the masks, keep the distance, and keep the hygiene in order to move forward and towards the complete economic freedom of movement and return to normalcy.