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Coronavirus update for Central, East and Southeast Europe

As of the evening of March 17, 3,708 cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic have been reported in the Central, East and Southeast European region, according to data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Photo by SamaraHeisz5/Shutterstock.com

The figures break down thus: Austria (1,332); Czech Republic (434); Greece (387); Slovenia (275); Poland (238); Estonia (225); Romania (217); Slovakia (97); Croatia (96); Bulgaria (81); Serbia (72); Bosnia (64); Latvia (60); Albania (55); Hungary (50); and Lithuania (25).

The region had seen 18 deaths as of March 17, in: Greece (5), Poland (5), Austria (3), Bulgaria (2), Hungary (1), Slovenia (1) and Albania (1).

The Baltic states Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia stopped foreign travelers from entering the country in an attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus several days ago.

Polandʼs government has banned foreigners from entering the country from March 15, and imposed a 14-day quarantine on its citizens returning home. The government also decided to limit the operations of shopping malls and close all pubs, clubs and casinos. Public gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned.

The Czech Republic on March 12 declared a state of emergency. It also has ordered the closure of all shops with the exception of grocery stores, pharmacies, drugstores and petrol stations effective as of March 14. The government has also closed restaurants and other food service establishments, with the exception of employee catering.

Slovakia also decided to close its borders on March 12 to non-residents and erected other restrictions. The country closed international airports, schools, bars and clubs and imposes mandatory quarantine for anyone returning from abroad.

Hungary from March 16 closed its borders to non-residents. On March 17, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said Hungary would allow a one-off transit of Romanian and Bulgarian citizens stuck in Austria on Tuesday night after their governments requested it. Cafes, restaurants and shops in Hungary have to close after 3 p.m., except for food stores, pharmacies and drug stores. Schools already were closed to students from Monday, with distance learning programs starting to be implemented.

Slovenia has limited the number of border crossings with Italy, which is suffering the world’s second worst outbreak of coronavirus with more than 2,000 dead, and introduced health checks there. Slovenia also has shut down air traffic, all schools and kindergartens, hotels, bars, restaurants and most shops, apart from those selling food.

Romaniaʼs President Klaus Iohannis on March 16 declared a state of emergency that will last for 30 days. During this time, all schools and universities will be closed.

Croatiaʼs schools have been shut since Monday and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said more measures were expected in the coming days, including closing cinemas, theaters, sports centers, restaurants, bars, shopping centers as well as shorter opening hours for some shops. 

On March 15, Serbia declared a state of emergency, closed borders, schools and universities and recommended people work from home. The country will ban people older than 70 from leaving their homes at any time and impose a night curfew on almost everyone else in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus, President Aleksandar Vučić said, adding the measures take effect on Wednesday. The country also plans to shut down all bus and train passenger traffic in two to three days, Vučić said.

Bulgaria has banned all holiday trips to the country in an effort to contain the infection.

In Greece, authorities have closed restaurants, bars, retail shops, playgrounds, schools, universities and gyms to stem the spread of the virus.

The COVID-19 coronavirus has infected more than 193,100 people across the globe, according to official counts. As of the evening of March 17, at least 7,883 people have died, more than half of them outside mainland China, the country where the virus was first detected in December. 

(Sources: ECDC.europa.eu, Reuters, The New York Times, Index.hu.)