Bosnia’s coronavirus deaths pass 1,000 as cases in Montenegro rise

People pray during mass near site where the Virgin Mary reportedly appeared in an apparition in Medjugorje,

SARAJEVO (Reuters) – Deaths from the novel coronavirus in Bosnia passed a fresh threshold above 1,000 with 20 new fatalities reported on Tuesday, as the daily number of cases hit a new record of 728, health authorities said.

The Balkan country of around 3.3 million people has so far recorded 35,389 cases of the coronavirus with 1,017 deaths. Currently there are 8,812 active cases, or 3,279 more than two weeks ago.

Medical officials have repeatedly warned that the healthcare system could collapse if the trend continued, especially in the capital Sarajevo where about 1,000 new cases were registered in the past 10 days, and the southern region of Herzegovina.

The authorities in different parts of administratively fragmented Bosnia have not opted for restrictive measures yet, most of them ordering mask-wearing in closed and open spaces and limiting the number of people allowed to gather.

As the number of COVID-19 infections increases across Europe, neighbouring Montenegro has become the country recording one of the highest numbers of cases relative to its population, with over 4,232 active cases among its 620,000 people.

The Adriatic country’s health authorities have introduced a set of two-week restrictive measures that include the closing of cafes and restaurants, bans on public gatherings and even the closure of some areas, depending on the number of new cases.

So far, 240 people in Montenegro have died from the disease, while 15,760 have fallen ill.

Serbia, which still has fewer cases than its Balkan peers, last week ordered a ban on mass gatherings such as weddings and parties, made the wearing of face masks mandatory indoors and recommended that people wear them outdoors as well.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic in Sarajevo and Aleksandar Vasovic in Belgrade; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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