Prishtina, 21 March 2020
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, together with the Minister of Health, Arben Vitia, held a joint press conference on developments concerning the spreading of the COVID-19 virus and the measures that are constantly being applied to stop the spreading of the Coronavirus in our country.
On this occasion, Prime Minister Kurti called on the citizens of Kosovo to halt the spreading of the COVID-19 virus and keep our health system fully operational.
“Public health is the health of the public. The entire public, i.e. each and every one of us, must take care of our own selves and others. For that purpose: maintain the hygiene, stay in distance, and stay home”, stated Prime Minister Kurti at the press conference.
Whereas, the Minister of Health, Arben Vitia, stated that we are trying, and we will do everything within our power, to manage this situation with utmost correctness, informing that aside from the measures currently being applied, Kosovo currently has 142 respirators: 95 in the public sector and 47 in the private sector, and in order to increase the existing capacities, we have ordered the acquisition of 50 new respirators and are awaiting to order another contingent.
The full speech of Prime Minister Kurti:
The time of indoor conferences has come to an end, and we will soon have to stop outdoor conferences as well, and start communicating only via internet and telephone, considering that any type of gatherings represents an ever-growing risk.
Our people have gone through many crises throughout years, but this is one that we have not faced earlier. We must maintain the situation and not allow it to turn into an irreversible crisis. So, let us halt the spreading of the COVID-19 virus and keep our healthcare system fully operational.
We remain hopeful that the situation will not become dire in the coming days and weeks. But seeing the situation in the more developed countries, particularly in Europe, the curb of the virus spread is expanding. We should therefore stop its spreading as much as possible.
The spread is halted by employing social distancing and staying at home, and maintain high hygiene. We are in front of big figures for Coronavirus spreading in Europe.
For that reason, we should not somehow feel complacent that we have not faced a similar crisis here in Kosovo, considering that we are only in the first phase. We have to become aware and consciousness, all of us, that the responsibility of care does not only fall upon the shoulders of healthcare workers. Public health is the health of the public. The entire public, i.e. each and every one of us, must take care of our own selves and others.
As a result, last night we have closed all parks. We have decided that all parks from 08:00h to 20:00h will be closed for movement and recreation. Also we have stopped the Take Away services as they are called.
We must repeat what is never too much to repeat: Individual discipline, personal hygiene, civic responsibility. So, cleaning, distance and staying at home. Maintain hygiene, stay in distance, and stay home. The best thing during this pandemic risk for humans is that we stay apart. And this could, at first glance, sound paradoxal, but the stopping of the virus spread so requires. Let us learn from other countries’ misfortune, and not allow such misfortune happen to us.
The technology, particularly the Information Technology, i.e. digital technology, has so far been there to entertain us, but now this should turn into digital solidarity. Decisions will be taken day by day. We have not yet reached the week that will show true figures of the public health situation in our country.
A measure such as extending internet usage for an indefinite period of time, as a service that allows us to continue our lives although under complete isolation, is the right thing to do. The COVID-19 virus has such incubation period whereby we will only know the truth of its spreading in the next two weeks.
So let’s get ahead of it. The direction of the spreading curb lies on our hands. If we are responsible, the curb will be low and not very spread. In times like this we must particularly protect our elderly. We must protect our grandmothers and grandfathers. We must protect our mother and father, as the more elderly are much more at risk.
Young people might think they are not sick, as they are characterized by their energy and vitality because they have high immunity, but they could be the spreaders of the disease to their family members, including the elderly. In a study, among the numerous studies being published these days, it is stated that in countries where the elderly have stayed in public or social residency facilities for the elderly, the rate of mortality and diseases has been lower compared to those living in their families.
However, in our culture and circumstances, the majority if not all, with some exceptions, of the elderly live together with us, i.e. they live with us in our families. Although it may not seem so, they are at the forefront of this battle.
The grandfather, grandmother, mother and father are the most at risk today. And that is whom we must protect. By protecting ourselves, we also protect them. We should all be aware and conscious about this. Speak to your loved ones, friends and relatives through telephone and internet. There are many apps that can be used to talk and see each-other, and thereby be together while being apart. Together, but staying apart.
We are together in the same situation, because the virus does not select people based on region or age, but death mostly affects the elderly. For that purpose, all of us who are young or middle-aged should protect our grandfathers and grandmothers, mother and father.
Finally, I invoke you all to respect the decision of the Government and apply the advices of our experts.
Full speech of the Minister of Health, Arben Vitia:
Thank you Prime Minister,
Dear media, I would like to thank you as well, as these days you have also been soldiers in the battlefield against COVID-19, by reporting fairly and not spreading panic, without undermining the seriousness of the disease and the consequences it could bring about to the public health in the Republic of Kosovo.
Dear citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,
We are here today in another addressing from our side, and in addition to the two parts that I must inform you about, the other part is not about telling you what we are doing to manage the situation of the Coronavirus Covid-19, but rather to strongly urge you to act with utmost seriousness in order to help the institutions in this joint fight, help yourselves, your families and our country.
In addition to the measures taken so far, I would like to inform you that there are currently 142 respirators in Kosovo: 95 in the public sector and 47 in the private sector, and in order to increase the existing capacities, we have ordered the acquisition of 50 new respirators and are waiting to order another contingent. A portion of these 50 respirators will arrive in April whereas the other part in May.
The second information that I would like to share with you is that within few days we will have the first dosses of the Chlorochuine medicine, but it must be mentioned, and I will reiterate, that there is still no medicine that has proven successful in the treatment of this disease in general.
We are trying and we will do everything that is in our hand to manage this situation with utmost correctness, by ensuring all measures, including these ones, but these are extreme measures for the most extreme case. In such cases there is no assurance that the respirators or the therapy will be able to have their effects.
Nonetheless, I will reiterate, today we are here to make it clear that whatever measure we take against this disease will be rendered moot if citizens fail to implement the measures taken by the Government and adhere to the recommendation issued by the relevant institutions such as the National Institute of Public Health and the Ministry of Health.
It is the last moment for us to understand the gravity of the situation. Coronavirus is a reality, and is wreaking havoc throughout the globe.
The next two-three weeks, as the Prime Minister mentioned, are crucial to our fight. If we are at the top of our duties, we as institutions and you as citizens, we will go through this grave situation with as fewer consequences as possible. We have before ourselves two different examples: the discipline of some countries and prompt responses, and the negligence of other countries and slow reactions, particularly, and I will stress this again, by the citizens. We are witnessing that in countries which neglected the situation, and where the citizens neglected the seriousness of the disease, situation in some of those countries is almost out of control, despite their good healthcare systems.
For that reason, dear citizens, this is the last moment for us to be united. As there is nowhere in the world any medication for the treatment of the disease, and as we have mentioned there is no vaccine for its prevention, the sole weapon we have in this battle is the due care, solidarity and discipline.
All you can do is to stay home with your most loved ones. This way you will be protecting yourselves, your families and everyone’s health.
The fate of the battle now lies in the hands of all of us.
If until today the heroes were and continue to be the healthcare personnel, as of today each and every one of us should join the army of those in white coats.
With that said, let us all fulfil our civic, human and legal obligations toward the safeguarding of the public health:
Maintain personal and family hygiene!
Maintain social distance!
I call upon municipalities to implement the Government’s measures by disinfecting facilities, cleaning roads and applying other necessary measures.
I also have a special addressing for the persons being held in quarantine at the Student Centre.
The fight against Covid-19 can be won with fewer losses if we all give our contribution to that purpose.
Quarantine is one of them.
We are well aware that the conditions there are not as good as we would want them to be, but we will work in increasing hygiene and other conditions in general these days, and we are continuously working in this regard.
However, please be aware that conditions here are a lot better to those of some other countries where quarantine is now being applied in tends, cooperative buildings, sport and trade centres and other types of centres.
We ask for your understanding, as this is an emergency situation and the sacrifice you are making is in your best interest, the best interest of your families and the citizens of Kosovo, and for the state of Kosovo. We urge for your patience, because discipline and acting calmly, rationally and with understanding makes our fight easier.
I would like to also recall that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora and the Ministry of Health have made it clear last night and through a publication that any citizen entering the Republic of Kosovo, through Prishtina International Airport and land borders, will be quarantined for 14 days.
Due to limited levels of quarantining, and so that you do not risk your health, that of your family and other citizens, we once again ask from our compatriots that only cases of emergencies present before the Embassies and Consulates of the Republic of Kosovo in order to be included in the lists for return.
PLEASE, STAY HOME!
THAT’S WHERE YOU ARE SAFE!
THAT’S WHERE OUR VICTORY LIES!
We have to be aware that a police officer is not an anti-virus neither a soldier is a vaccine, and the health personnel is not immune to the disease.
Do not be embarrassed to fear the virus, but let us all unite in this battle, as this is the only way we will see this through with as little consequences as possible. Thank you.