Bosnia declares nationwide state of emergency over coronavirus

A citizen of Sarajevo has his temperature checked by a medical technician wearing a protective suit, in front of Sarajevo's City General Hospital on March 16, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

SARAJEVO (REUTERS) - Bosnia declared a nationwide state of emergency over the new coronavirus on Tuesday (March 17) to enable coordination of emergency activities between its two autonomous regions, Prime Minister Zoran Tegeltija said.

The Bosniak-Croat Federation and the Serb Republic separately declared emergency situations on Monday and introduced measures to halt the spread of the disease. Bosnia has reported 26 cases of the new virus so far, with no fatalities.

"We are focusing in all ways on how to alleviate the consequences of the coronavirus," Mr Tegeltija told reporters.

He said the security ministry would head a state-level coordination body. The government also expanded a list of countries with entry restrictions.

Mr Tegeltija said that Bosnia's armed forces and health authorities would help set up tent quarantines near the border, probably by the end of the week.

Bosnia's regional governments have recommended to employers to cut working hours and switch to working in two shifts where possible to avoid large groupings of people at work. They say all business trips should be cancelled.

Last week, the two regions closed schools and universities and banned all public gatherings and sports events for two weeks.

They ordered from Monday a two-week isolation for all travellers entering the country, and barred entry to visitors from the countries most affected by the coronavirus epidemics.

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