Volunteers Help North Macedonia’s Elderly Survive Lockdown

"I don't want to risk going to my doctor and I need therapy. Please go to my doctor so she can prescribe my medication, because I only have pills left for three days."

This was one of the calls that the Red Cross's municipal HQ in the Skopje municipality of Karposh received on Wednesday morning.

The woman who called was 68 years old, living alone and spending her tenth day in self-isolation due to previous frequent contacts with other people which had made her nervous about the possibility that she might have contracted the coronavirus.

BIRN followed Red Cross volunteers from Karposh during the first day of their humanitarian initiative to help those in need. Divided up into teams, the volunteers diligently shopped for groceries and carried out other tasks - mostly for elderly people or those who are in isolation.

Their red uniforms, masks and gloves attracted attention in supermarkets, but they followed medical advice by maintaining physical distance while taking and delivering the orders.

"Certainly we are careful while having contact with people who are in isolation, but we are not afraid. It's better that we help them than them walking through shops," one of the volunteers told BIRN.

By the time North Macedonia declared a state of emergency on Wednesday and upped the number of infected to 42, the central pedestrian areas in the capital, like Macedonia Square, the main pedestrian street and the landmark Stone Bridge, were already almost empty.

Signs and art installations warned the few pedestrians to maintain personal hygiene, avoid close contact and call medics if they feel sick.

Red Cross activists shop for groceries in supermarkets. Photo: BIRN

They closely follow instructions about what...

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