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COVID-19: Serbia Declares State Of Emergency In Belgrade After Rise In Infections


A woman waits for a health check in front of a COVID-19 medical center in Belgrade on July 2.

The global death toll from the coronavirus is almost 522,000, with more than 10.9 million infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the respiratory illness.

Here's a roundup of COVID-19 developments in RFE/RL's broadcast regions.

Serbia

Serbia has declared a state of emergency in the capital, Belgrade, and is reimposing a series of restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus after a spike in infections.

The government on July 3 said it was making the wearing of masks compulsory in indoor public spaces or on public transport, and shortened the opening hours of clubs and cafes -- which will now be closed between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. -- while limiting gatherings to 100 people indoors or 500 outdoors.

Those not wearing masks in closed spaces face hefty fines.

President Aleksandar Vucic announced the measures on television overnight. The state of emergency comes into effect immediately, City Hall said in a statement on July 3, adding that the rules will be reviewed in two weeks.

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Serbia reported 359 new cases for July 2, 80 percent of which were in Belgrade and its surroundings, which is home to about one-third of the country's 7 million inhabitants.

In Belgrade, an outbreak traced back to student dormitories prompted Vucic to closed the facilities, a move that brought angry students into the streets on July 3 to protest the measure.

The Ministry of Education later rescinded the measure, saying all students with exam deadlines will be allowed to stay in their dormitories until July 20, as originally planned.

Meanwhile, local authorities in central and western Serbia have already declared emergencies in several other municipalities where a rise in infections since May has been recorded.

The increase came as a strict countrywide lockdown imposed in March was lifted.

Critics have accused Vucic of causing the spike because he eased restrictions to allow for parliamentary elections on June 21, where he was looking for his populist government to tighten its grip on power.

Last week, several high-ranking officials from the ruling coalition, including the outgoing parliament speaker and the defense minister, tested positive for the virus after attending events late last month celebrating their election victory.

In total, Serbia has confirmed 15,195 coronavirus cases with 287 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Balkan Service, Reuters, and AP
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