Albania keeps COVID-19 restrictive measures in force as new cases rise

TIRANA, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Albania's Technical Committee of Experts on the coronavirus situation has decided to keep all current restrictive measures in force as new COVID-19 cases have increased over the past two weeks, Minister of Health and Social Protection Ogerta Manastirliu said on Saturday.

The minister said at a press conference that over the past two weeks there has been an increase in new COVID-19 cases in 50 municipalities. During the last 14 days, the number of new cases has increased from 217 to 260 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Manastirliu said that there is also an increase in the number of patients admitted to hospitals.

"We are not in an alarming situation, but we need to be very careful and vigilant to prevent any further increase. The number of hospitalizations has gone up to 273 in 14 days and the number of patients receiving treatment in intensive care has increased from 31 to 33 patients," she added.

According to the minister, the increase in new cases comes as a result of the end-of-year holidays.

Considering the current situation, Manastirliu announced that the Technical Committee of Experts has decided that teaching for university students will continue online.

In addition, curfew time from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. local time will continue to remain in force and bars and restaurants will close their activities during the curfew time, except those which offer delivery services.

Speaking to reporters, Silva Bino, chief of epidemiological department at the Public Health Institute, said that in the past two weeks health authorities have noticed an increase in the new cases for the group belonging to 15 to 24 years old. In addition, Bino confirmed that Albania has not registered any case of the new COVID-19 variant found in the UK.

Manastirliu said that flights with the UK will continue to be suspended until Feb. 1.

Talking about the vaccines against COVID-19, the minister said that so far the government has secured vaccines for around 800,000 citizens, or 1.6 million doses from the agreement with the manufacturer Pfizer and through the COVAX mechanism.

Albania started its vaccination campaign on Jan. 11.

On Saturday, the health ministry reported 581 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the national total to 67,216, with 40,090 recoveries and 1,270 fatalities.

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