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COVID-19: Austria Cautions Against Balkans Travel Amid Rise In Cases


Intensive-care medical workers attend to patients at a hospital in Belgrade.

The global death toll from the coronavirus is over 500,000, with more than 10.5 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.

Balkans

Austria has issued a travel warning for six Western Balkan countries after several new coronavirus infection clusters in Austria were traced back to the region.

The Balkans, which had previously been less affected by outbreaks of the virus than other parts of Europe, have seen a recent increase in infections.

The July 1 travel warning refers to Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia -- but not to EU members Slovenia and Croatia.

The move by Austria, which has a large community of people with Balkan roots, is a particular blow for Serbia and Montenegro, which the EU on June 30 added to its "safe list" of countries from which nonessential travel was allowed as of July 1.

"I am aware that this decision causes pain to many people," Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told a news conference.

The number of daily new infections has started rising again in Austria, with the number climbing above 100 on June 30 for the first time since April.

"We must do everything in our power to prevent a second wave" of infections, Schallenberg added.

Those who must travel in the region for urgent reasons must self-quarantine or provide a recent virus test result upon return to Austria.

More than 530,000 people among Austria's population of 8.9 million have roots in the former Yugoslavia.

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