Sofia, 30 July 2021 (BTA/MIA) — The cases with the now prevalent in the Balkans Covid-19 delta variant have begun to rise against the backdrop of a slower vaccination process. Authorities are introducing new measures to counter the spread of the virus, mulling mandatory vaccination for certain professions and booster shots for people with weak immune systems.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) Wednesday placed the Greek islands in the southern part of the Aegean in the Dark Red zone relative to the risk of infection following a rise of coronavirus cases in the region. This means travel is not recommended except in pressing cases.
As of July 26, exclusive Covid clinics, which had been closed earlier this year, reopened at Greece’s public hospitals to deal with rising admissions, according to the President of the Athens and Piraeus Hospital Doctors’ Association (EINAP), Matina Pagoni. She said things were not developing well at all and no one could say what could happen in the future.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Hoca said new cases and deaths have increased threefold since the beginning of the month. He added that at least 23 million in Turkey should be vaccinated to curb the epidemic. The reason for the new outbreak, he said, is the easing of and noncompliance with the anti-epidemic measures.
Russian tourists are also considered a potential source of infection, Turkish epidemiologists say. A number of specialists call for stricter measures on travel of Russian tourists for the summer vacation, although the Ministry of Tourism encourages Russian tourists who are considered a life-belt for Turkish tourism.
Mask wearing indoors will continue to be mandatory after Aug. 1, Interior Minister Lucian Bode said. He appealed to the people to continue following the anti-epidemic measures, noting that the government was monitoring with concern what was happening in other European countries. Nevertheless, this week the Romanian government approved new measures for partial easing of the restrictions.
The Crisis Response Team decided not to introduce new restrictive measures but recommended to people with weakened immune systems and certain chronic conditions to get a booster dose of the vaccine. A total of 49.7 percent of Serbia’s adult population are vaccinated.
The Response Team called on the people, particularly young ones, to get the jab as soon as possible. The government’s chief epidemiologist Dr. Predrag Kon said the situation in Serbia had worsened and would continue to do so in August. He added that the number of cases was increasing because people had relaxed and measures were not kept, and forecast that the daily number of cases in Serbia would reach four-digit figures.
The authorities are mulling to introduce some restrictive measures for the unvaccinated in September or October if it is judged that they pose a high risk for the general population, Health Minister Venko Filipche said.
Vaccination in the country is going smoothly and the figure of 500,000 jabbed at least once and 330,000 who have received two doses will be passed soon, Filipche said. A total of 65 percent of the country’s population above 65 is vaccinated, as well as 630 children.
A national digital Covid-19 certificate, as well as changes in the measures have been introduced since Friday, July 30, the Ministry of Health said. Only those who meet certain conditions may visit night clubs, discotheques and the interior of catering establishments. Entertainment and music festivals, as well as any mass gatherings indoors, are banned.
Stricter measures are introduced along the country’s entire Adriatic coast. This week the Crisis Response Team allowed gatherings of up to 50 people in public, or up to 1,000 at places where vaccinated people gather. Over three million vaccine doses have been administered, covering 39.9 percent of the entire population or 48 percent of the adult population.
The number of new cases is rising and new rules for entering restaurants and gambling halls are effective as of Monday, restrictions for tourist accommodation are also introduced.
So far 37.4 percent of the population have been vaccinated, judged insufficient to protect the population before a possible new wave in the fall.
Twenty-one cases of the delta variant have been confirmed, eight “imported” from abroad and the rest being family clusters, said Dr. Silva Bino, head of the Department of Epidemiology at the Institute of Public Health and member of the commission in charge of coping with the pandemic.
Deputy Health Minister Mira Rakacolli said the new epidemiological situation does not call for new restrictive measures. The curfew until 6 am and indoor mask wearing remain in force.
A total of 63.2 percent of the adult citizens are vaccinated and 71.7 percent received at least one dose. Estimates show that another slightly over 202,000 should receive the jab.