The pandemic is intensifying, the measures are loosening

Infectious Diseases Clinic / Photo: Free Press / Dragan Mitreski

It is allowed to organize seminars, trainings, courses, as well as various types of celebrations indoors with 50% occupancy, for which bars and discos received visas. From November 15, you will enter only with a certificate for two received doses of vaccine or with a certificate of eligibility in the last 45 days.

The situation with the coronavirus in the country and in the region is deteriorating, the coverage with the vaccination is weak and insufficient and because of that an uncertain and severe winter will follow, the epidemiologists estimate. The rising trend of the sick and the number of deaths from 15 to 20 per day, does not give an optimistic picture that the pandemic is behind us.

There are indications that a pandemic is on the rise. In one week, the number of new patients increased by more than 22 percent. The number of active cases is 6.191, and 7.072 people have died since the beginning of the pandemic.

Stojanov: Nobody controls the bars

- It is bad everywhere in the region. Slovenia had 2.200 new cases yesterday, and it is similar in size to our country. The number of deaths is stagnating at around 15. In the past, that number was known to go up to 50 deaths per day. Vaccination coverage is insufficient. We do not have even 40 percent of the population immunized with two doses. The coverage should be 80 percent so that we can talk about good coverage - says Dr. Aleksandar Stojanov, longtime epidemiologist and former director of the Center for Public Health Skopje.

He says it is interesting to analyze how Western European countries have achieved a high coverage of over 80 percent of the immunized population, and we are the "smart" in the Balkans with our theories about how dangerous the vaccine is.

- The pandemic with this pace of vaccination will last, winter is near us, but the end of the epidemic for us is far away. We will be more and more indoors and that is a worrying factor - says Aleksandar Stojanov.

According to him, it is not good to relax, on the contrary, rigorous measures are needed in order to prevent a new, fifth wave or at least to mitigate it.

- Drastic measures must be introduced. There must be no entry without two doses of vaccine, so whoever wants to, let him get angry and put pressure. Unfortunately, the nightclubs were constantly threatening, going on strike, so they were allowed to organize events with 50% occupancy of the restaurant. I want to ask - who counts 50 percent occupancy? Nobody controls that. The cafes are still working at full capacity and no one takes out tables, nor does he count the guests - says Stojanov.

A winter with covid-19 is behind us, meanwhile the virus has mutated and no one can predict what will happen this coming winter in terms of the number of infected.

- It will be difficult. I am exclusively against leaving healthcare professionals free to choose whether to get vaccinated or not. What does it look like to have unvaccinated health workers, or isolated teachers, also unvaccinated? On the other hand, there is a shortage of health professionals. There are some services that must be vaccinated if they do not want to sit at home, but for such a drastic measure, a strong government with a strong stance is needed - said Stojanov.

Djikic: If you stay below 50 percent vaccinated, that is a cause for alarm

Criticism of the scope of vaccination came three days ago from Dr. Ivan Djikic, a scientist and professor at Goethe University in Frankfurt. According to him, the pandemic will not end quickly, until at least 60 to 70 percent of citizens in all countries are vaccinated.

- Until you reach 60-70 percent of the vaccinated population, Macedonia will be a country at risk of death from coronavirus. If you stay below 50 percent, that is already a cause for alarm. With that percentage, during the winter you will have not seven thousand, but several thousand more dead. The delta-strain spreads 60 percent more than other mutations. You can imagine the numbers if we did not have vaccines. And I am sure that the new delta-plus strain was already present throughout Europe and that will certainly be a new problem this winter - he warned.

The directors of the covid clinics in the country are also prepared for the worsening of the epidemiological curve. Although some of them were closed, they are still ready and can be opened and reorganized at any time if there is an influx of patients seeking hospitalization.

This situation did not prevent the Government, considering the epidemiological situation, at the proposal of the Commission for Infectious Diseases to allow organizing and holding seminars, trainings, courses, meetings, workshops, conferences in closed parts of buildings with 50 percent full capacity.

It is also allowed to work in bars and night clubs and discos, as well as catering facilities registered for celebrations, parties, weddings, birthdays, baptisms, etc., in the closed part of the facilities up to 50 percent of the capacity of the space. From November 15, all public events, in all catering facilities, hotels, seminars, can be entered only with a certificate for two received doses of the vaccine against covid-19. Until then, the citizens will be able to enter the facilities with a confirmation for only one received dose. The second acceptable document to allow entry to these facilities is a confirmation that you have been exposed to the virus in the last 45 days, counting from the day of recovery.