Coronavirus update for Central, East and Southeast Europe

In Hungary

Photo by SmartPhotoLab/

Infection rates for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are slowing across most of Central and Southeast Europe as strict lockdowns appear to have brought the spread of the virus under control. 

Some countries in the CESEE region are beginning to gently ease restrictions. Photo by SmartPhotoLab/

Data from recent days demonstrates a flattening of the infection curve in countries such as the Czech Republic and Poland, while elsewhere in the region stringent and early lockdowns have already prevented outbreaks from escalating in Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Slovenia and several other countries.

As of Sunday evening, 49,988 cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic had been reported in the Central East and Southeast European (CESE) region and 1,866 people have died.

Poland reported the most cases with 9,287 registered infected person and 360 fatalities, followed by Romania (8,746/445) and the Czech Republic (6,657/181).

Serbia has 5,994 cases and 117 people have died, followed by Moldova (2,472/67) Greece (2,235/110), Hungary (1,916/189), Croatia (1,871/47), Estonia (1,528/40), Slovenia (1,330/74), Lithuania (1,298/35), Bosnia and Herzegovina (1,285/48), North Macedonia (1207/51), Slovakia (1,161/12), Bulgaria (894/42), Latvia (727/5) Albania (562/26), Kosovo (510/12) and Montenegro (308/5).

Some governments in Central and Southeast Europe are already looking ahead to the post-COVID-19 world, with several tentatively lifting restrictions.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on April 16 that his government will begin easing the restrictions imposed on people and businesses to contain the spread of coronavirus starting next week.

The Czech government has presented a five-step plan to gradually relax restrictions imposed to mitigate the coronavirus epidemic. According to Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček, the measures will be lifted in five waves in the coming weeks, starting on April 20 until June 8, if the outbreak is kept under control with no more than 400 patients infected per day.

Serbian President Alexandar Vučić on Saturday announced on TV Pink it would ease some restrictions. He said artisan shops, shoemakers, tailors, car mechanics, technical goods stores and construction materials shops will be open, except those in shopping malls.

Other stores will be open on April 27 if they are less than 300 square feet. Vučić, as cited by news portal B92, also said that factory workers should be ready to return to work from May 4 or May 11.

However, in recent days other governments have prolonged or even tightened restrictions in a sign they believe it will be weeks — or even months — before economies in the region can start to recover.

Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis signed a decree on April 14, extending the state of emergency for another month, up to May 15. Bulgaria’s health ministry ordered the closure of all fruit, vegetable and flower markets in a new set of restrictions on April 11. Bulgarians are also obliged to wear face masks when going out of their homes.

North Macedonia has also extended its state of emergency for another 30 days.

Some businesses are slowly opening doors in Austria, Italy and Spain after strict lockdown measures. But the World Health Organization has warned that the region has “not yet seen the peak” in COVID-19 cases.

Globally, the number of coronavirus infected people had increased to 2,424,419 on Monday evening from 1,871073 seven days ago, latest data showed. At least 166,256 people have died.

(Sources: Johns Hopkins University, Euronews, Intellinews)

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