The German media are reporting about the sharp increase of newly infected people in South-Eastern Europe, quoting Deutsche Welle (DW) which reports that, that at the beginning of the year, while Europe was following the pandemic developments in Italy, Spain and France, the situation in Serbia was relatively quiet and the coronavirus contagion was under control, while now the situation has changed.
“It seemed that Serbia had control of the virus as much as possible, but now it seems that the Balkan country no longer controls the pandemic but that the pandemic controls it,” writes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)-
“In general opinion, it all has to do with the June 21 elections and the decisions of the authorities in the weeks before. During the election campaign, social life in Serbia was at a level of normality not seen in almost any other part of the continent. The most surprising decision was the approval to hold large sports events again with the public present,” says FAZ.
“The events of the last few days show that the situation is serious now. However, for economic reasons, the government is trying to avoid a complete ‘closure’, as in March and April,’ FAZ writes.
FAZ says that “it is clear that, according to state media reports in Serbia, everything seems to be under control,” but also adds that “such assessments contradict a large number of videos and social network reports, which show a completely different picture – crowded hospitals where people in the corridors are waiting for medical assistance, or a large number of people in front of the clinic where a nurse tells citizens that there are no tests and to come back after July 15”.
“Southeast Europe was said to have reacted relatively well to the peak of the pandemic in Europe, but now the pandemic is coming back,” Spiegel writes, adding that throughout the region, the number of newly infected people is growing dramatically: “In Serbia, it grew by 125% compared to the previous week, in Bosnia and Herzegovina by 75% and in Croatia by 232%.”
Because of this, a few days ago, Austria introduced severe restrictions for all those returning from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia. The same applies to Germany, which, despite the recommendations of the EU Council, has maintained the entry ban for those arriving from Serbia.
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“No matter how severe the restrictions were, especially in Serbia, where the curfew was also in force, such sudden concessions are incomprehensible,” continues Spiegel, recalling the matches in Belgrade with more than 20,000 fans or the unfortunate tournament of Novak Djokovic, and also citing the suspicion about the official figures regarding the virus in Serbia.
Other German newspaper, Heilbroner, also doubts the official pandemic statistics in Serbia.
“The difference between the official number and the actual number, when it comes to the death toll, is at least 600 cases. The number of daily infections before the elections was ten times higher than the official number,” a journalist who had access to accurate information told Heilbroner. “We don’t know why there are these differences. We only know that there is a problem, because neither the government’s crisis team nor the health authorities have the answer. The data we have published is correct,” says Marija Ristic.
The influential Swiss website, Nau.ch, also discusses the deteriorating situation in Southeast Europe and points to cases of infection “imported” into Switzerland associated with people who had been in Serbia.
The same portal also talks about the false data in Serbia: “We notice a special concentration of infection among those people who have arrived from Serbia,” says Stefan Kuster of the Federal Office of Health. The Serbian ambassador to Switzerland Goran Gradić denies these accusations: “The situation in Serbia is stable.”
This post is also available in: Italiano