Belgrade, 13 March 2020 – WHO Director-General declared a COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020. So far almost 125,000 cases from 118 countries and territories have been reported to WHO. So far, 125,000 cases from 118 countries and territories have been reported to WHO. The number of cases reported outside China has increased almost 13-fold, and the number of affected countries has almost tripled.
“This is a new virus. We can learn a lot from what has happened and is happening in other countries in the past 2 months; and we must adapt the best practices. The number of infected people is likely to increase in Serbia, but the results of the measures introduced in countries like China, Taiwan, Singapore show that the virus can be contained effectively with courageous measures, and the participation of all citizens. Systems are in place in Serbia to address such situation, as long as the virus spread is contained,” says Dr Marijan Ivanusa, the WHO representative and Head of the Office in Serbia.
The UN Country Team in Serbia acknowledges timely measures announced by the Government of the Republic of Serbia to prevent infections, save lives and minimize impacts.
“Taking strong steps now to slow the spread of coronavirus and flatten the curve of contamination will help communities and individuals. While on average 80% of infected individuals will feel only mild symptoms, the experience in other countries show that 20% will require dedicated medical support or hospitalization. We all need to work together to protect the vulnerable segments of the population, the elderly, the people with existing medical conditions, and the communities with little access to hygiene and medical facilities,” says Francoise Jacob, UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia.
Every citizen has the capacity to contribute by protecting themselves and protecting others - be it at home, in schools and universities, at the workplace or in the transport system.
It is of critical importance to follow the basic principles outlined in public statements, such as:
· Hygiene habits: regularly and thoroughly clean your hands, particularly after going to public places or meeting people. Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze, then dispose of the used tissue immediately, preferably into a closed bin. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
· Social distancing: avoid crowded places and maintain distance between yourself and others, greet each other from a distance, avoid hand shaking or hugging;
· Stay home if you feel unwell, and minimize contact with others;
· If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (fever, dry cough and tiredness, difficulty breathing), before going to your healthcare provider, call hotlines 064 8945 235 (24 hours a day) or 011/2684 566 (active from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.).
· Travelers developing symptoms within 14 days after their return from COVID-19 affected area should stay at home (self-isolation) and the hotline number listed above.
The UN in Serbia will support the government and the people of Serbia to address the challenges of the COVID 19, expand the medical services, reach out to all and save lives.