Belgrade Takes Charge of Kosovo Serbs With COVID-19

The Belgrade-funded parallel health system run by the Serbian minority in Kosovo is sending its COVID-19 test results to Serbia - with very little or no collaboration with Kosovo's own institutions.

Not only tests for COVID-19 in Serb-run municipalities in Kosovo but also the subsequent treatment of severe cases is taking place in Serbia.

Bypassing established Kosovo health institutions, a parallel health system with health centres and hospitals function in Serb-majority municipalities, following rules set by Serbia, which is causing difficulties in the management of the current pandemic.

One problem is over data. Although Kosovo institutions have registered 94 COVID-19 cases, Kosovo Serbs are not part of the number. Based on the test results done in Belgrade, there are three Kosovo Serbs registered as infected with COVID-19 in Kosovo.

On March 12, on BIRN's TV show, Jeta ne Kosove, Srdan Kostic, deputy director of the health centre in the Serb-majority municipality of Shterpce /Strpce, said the moment a local Serb was suspected of being infected with coronavirus, he or she is sent "with a medical escort and with personal protection to the infectious clinic in [north] Mitrovica", which is in northern Kosovo but operates within the Serbian health system.

"We do not have many other options, like sending them to Belgrade, but we have the nearest infectious clinic in Mitrovica," Kostic declared.

Local hospital chief Bratislav Lazic in Gracanica, another Serb-majority municipality, has meanwhile said that the transfer of the most severe patients to Serbia had been agreed.

The three confirmed infections among Kosovo Serbs are a 62-year-old from near Lipjan/Lipljan, a person from Mitrovica/ Kosovska Mitrovica, born in...

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