Bosnia declares state of disaster over coronavirus

AFP , Tuesday 17 Mar 2020

Bosnian medical workers set up an emergency triage point, in front of Sarajevo Emergency Medical Service headquarters, on March 16, 2020. (AFP)

Bosnia declared a nationwide state of disaster over the coronavirus on Tuesday, allowing the army to set up quarantine camps as health authorities fear a possible "explosion" of new cases.

Bosnia has detected around 30 infections in its population of around 3.5 million so far.

But the poor and politically fractured country is ill-equipped to handle a major health crisis if the virus spreads.

"We find ourselves at the beginning of the battle against the threat that a coronavirus epidemic poses to our health and economy," Bosnian Prime Minister Zoran Tegeltija told reporters.

Soldiers will be deployed to set up camps near border crossings and airports to isolate everyone who enters the country for two weeks, he said.

Authorities have already closed Bosnia's borders to foreigners coming from hard-hit zones like Italy, Spain, France and Belgium.

All Bosnians entering the country are required to self-isolate.

Meanwhile, the head of one of Sarajevo's two hospitals, Zlatko Kravic, told AFP that Bosnia could expect an "explosion" of infections.

"We have...taken all anti-epidemic measures to try to prevent this explosion," he said.

But "this disease is explosive, it is very difficult to control".

The two hospitals in Bosnia's capital have some 70 respirators, he said.


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