Bosnia reports record daily number of deaths from COVID-19

SARAJEVO (Reuters) – Bosnia reported a record number of daily deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday with the capital Sarajevo going into lockdown next weekend for the first time since last May to combat a spike in coronavirus infections.

The Balkan country of 3.3 million, where inoculations using the Russian Sputnik V vaccine have begun only in its Serb autonomous region, reported 1,251 new cases and 48 deaths from the coronavirus on Tuesday, health authorities said.

Sarajevo, which has seen a daily average of 456 new coronavirus cases over the past week, will be partially shut down next weekend for the first time in almost 10 months as hospital capacities have been overstretched, authorities said. Only food shops, pharmacies and gas stations will stay open.

After the number of infections dropped in January, Bosnia saw a new peak in cases in February after the skiing season and the end of school holidays, before vaccinations began.

Bosnia, which reported a total of 138,542 COVID-19 cases and 5,345 deaths as of Tuesday, has ordered 2.1 million vaccines under the global COVAX scheme for poorer countries, and from the European Union, but deliveries have been delayed.

The only vaccines to arrive so far have been made available to prioritised health workers in Bosnia’s Serb entity and were donated by Serbia or purchased directly from Russia. The country’s other autonomous region, the Bosniak-Croat Federation, has yet to order any vaccines.

Other Western Balkan countries, such as neighbouring Serbia, Montenegro and North Macedonia, have also reported spikes in the coronavirus cases in the past few weeks. Serbia on Tuesday recorded 4,576 new cases, bringing the total number to 494,106, according to its health authorities.

The government of North Macedonia, which recorded a total of 107,479 cases and 3,206 deaths as of Monday, decided on Tuesday to introduce a two-week night curfew from Wednesday to stem contagion and ease the pandemic’s pressure on the health system.

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