Montenegro could be one of the first countries in Europe to become free of active coronavirus cases, but mass breaches of public health orders earlier in the week may have jeopardised this.
As of Sunday morning, the small Balkan country has four active COVID-19 cases, the third lowest number in Europe,after Gibraltar and the Faroe Islands.
On May 9 the Faroe Islands became the first European state to be free of active COVID-19 cases and has continued to remain at zero, while Gibraltar currently has two active cases.
Montenegro’s recovery from the coronavirus may have been jeopardised by “mass violations of health orders” allegedly carried out by members of the Serbian Orthodox Church earlier this week, Prime Minister Duško Marković said in a public address published on Montenegro’s government websiteon Thursday.
These health breaches reportedly included thousands of believers participating in a procession in Niksic in celebration of St Vasilije’s Day on Tuesday, and protests on Wednesday, after clergy were arrested for violating orders by leading the procession.
Prime Minister Marković said the government was concerned these safety violations caused by mass public gathering may have affected the country’s health and potentially set back its recovery from the pandemic.
“Everything we have achieved in three months of dedicated work and joint sacrifices is now in question,” stated the Prime Minister.
“We are afraid that in ten days we could find ourselves again in the same situation we were in two months ago, with great danger and consequences for the health and lives of all of you.”
Montenegro was the last country in Europe to report its first confirmed COVID-19 case, which was recorded on March 17.
It has remained one of the least coronavirus affected countries in Europe, with a total of 324 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths.
The last new case of coronavirus infection in Montenegro was recorded on May 5.
Neighbouring Serbia has recorded over 10,400 total cases of COVID-19 and has more than 5,700 active cases.
Written by Miya Yamanouchi for the Sarajevo Times