COVID-19 in Montenegro: Only One Active Case, Update May 21, 2020

By , 21 May 2020, 11:01 AM News
COVID-19 in Montenegro: Only One Active Case, Update May 21, 2020 Illustration

May 21, 2020 - Only one case of Covid-19 remains in the country, as the two patients in Ulcinj, and Bijelo Polje have recovered. The last patient is recovering in Gusinje. It puts Montenegro increasingly closer to becoming a corona free country.

The imported case remains undetermined

The Institute of Public Health (IJZ) announced that the recent coronavirus case – a foreign citizen who initially tested positive and then negative in subsequent tests – is being treated as an imported case and remains unclassified. It is why it is not yet known if it will be included in the official statistics. The IJZ says the subsequent negative results indicate the infection was most likely in its final stages, minimizing the risk of transmission. 

Markovic: We passed the most challenging test

In an interview for Pobjeda newspaper, the prime minister, Dusko Markovic, says the country has achieved much in the 14 years since it restored independence. He said it was a great pleasure to speak of the country's results in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic. Markovic pointed out that Montenegro had not waited for its first COVID-19 infection to ready its institutions, having begun taking decisive action against the virus as early as the beginning of January. Even before the pandemic was declared, Montenegro closed its borders to six risk countries, suspended flights to risk destinations and focused on procuring protective equipment, rather than racing to get ventilators and increase bed space. The entire healthcare system and 100,000 people were mobilized, and the National Coordinating Body was formed along with a dozen more operative agencies, Markovic said, adding that this was a better indication, more than any ranking list, that Montenegro possessed established and capable institutions.

MP's debated proposed amnesty law.

A proposal for an amnesty law put forth by MPs from the ruling coalition, not including the Social Democrats, was under debate in Parliament. The plan was explained as a necessary measure in light of the current coronavirus epidemic situation, to relieve the burden on prisons and reduce corrections officers. The proposal does not call for full amnesty but for reducing sentences by up to 15%. The Social Democrats conditioned their support on the addition of a stipulation that pardon would not be granted to anyone guilty of murder. The proposal states amnesty would not apply to those guilty of war crimes, terrorism, human trafficking, rape, money laundering, organized crime, child abuse, domestic violence, and anyone sentenced to 40 years imprisonment and for whom a warrant has been issued. Opposition parties were against the proposal, with some saying its real intention is to aid murderers, or that the law proposal undermines the whole purpose of punishment.

Nuhodzic: COVID-19 changed drug smuggling routes, expecting an increase in loan-sharking

The minister of the interior, Mevludin Nuhodzic, announced shifting drug smuggling routes and a rise in loan-sharking could be expected ahead. Nuhodzic pointed out that adaptability was an essential component of organized crime and that police were already making estimates of what means and goals criminal groups would choose, and what risks the post-pandemic period would bring. He said a priority would be to prevent criminal groups from using the crisis to recruit new members, especially among vulnerable groups. Nuhodzic stressed that police continued to carry out all regular tasks during the COVID-19 epidemic, as evidenced by the arrests of members of organized crime groups that occurred during the period.

Lajcak: Montenegro has a strong international reputation

EU high representative Miroslav Lajcak said that Montenegro had done a great job since the renewal of its independence and that it was the leader in EU integrations in the Western Balkans. He said that the EU accession was the best choice for the countries of the region, and their future was in the EU. Lajcak also said he believed that the EU would come out of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic stronger than before. Lajcak also noted that there seemed to be another virus spreading around the EU, apart from the coronavirus – the virus of opposition parties not wanting to participate in elections.

148 arriving from Barbados

The Kouzon agency from Northern Macedonia is assisting Montenegrin diplomatic efforts to return 148 seafarers stranded on cruisers home. Between 25 and 28 May, the seafarers will fly to Podgorica on a chartered flight from Barbados. Kouzon is a partner of Royal Caribbean International for most countries of Eastern Europe. The agency will be arranging the return of seafarers from the region as well, numbering about 647. There are 128 Montenegrins on ships in the Caribbean archipelago, and about 20 are on vessels in the area of California, said the agency's Zoran Kocoski.

UPCG: Small companies hardest hit by COVID-19 crises

According to a study from the Montenegrin Employers Federation (UPCG), entrepreneurs and small and micro companies in the tourism and hotel sector have been the most severely affected by the coronavirus epidemic in Montenegro. These companies expect losses of several hundred thousand euros, and the UPCG says a new wave of the virus could lead to significant layoffs.

Tourist agencies facing the impact of coronavirus epidemic

Travel agencies are facing great difficulties in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Prevailing uncertainty is prevented them from planning travel packages. Representatives of one agency in Podgorica say they have a high level of interest for travel arrangements, but hey are unable to provide answers as to when organized and group travel will resume. Representatives say they are assessing what they can accomplish during this summer season.

COVID-19 crisis exposes neoliberalism crisis 

The crisis caused by the coronavirus has exposed the imperfections of our economic system, which was based on mutated neoliberal concepts propagated by domestic state neoliberals, says economist and director of the Fidelity Consulting company Milos Vukovic. He adds that since the restoration of independence until the end of June 2012, Montenegro had an indisputable growth of economic indicators (salaries and pensions). Since then, it has entered a vicious circle of numerous failed investments, growth of the public sector, and current spending, which has led to extreme borrowing in a foreign market. Vukovic also points to the problem relating to 70% of young people who want to leave the country and even to the high unemployment rate that reached 27%, which is the third-worst unemployment rate in Europe. One of the indicators of the inadequate growth model of the Montenegrin economy is that he cites the country's loan risk and registered in the category of speculative debt with a negative outlook. Vukovic warns that the growth of the Montenegrin economy is not well distributed to all segments of society so that all citizens could benefit from GDP growth.

Sekulic: €14.5m in subsidies for employees paid, third aid package being prepared

So far, the government has approved about 13,260 applications for subsidies. For that purpose, gross salaries for approximately 56,000 employees in the total amount of about €14.5m have been paid from the budget, or are currently in the process of payment, says Economy Minister Dragica Sekulic in an interview for Dnevne Novine. It is too early to talk about the impact of the coronavirus on our or any other economy. She points out. "Through the implementation of the first and second sets of measures, we have largely managed to minimize the negative consequences for most sectors. We expect that the third set of economic measures, which we are working on these days, will yield results",, says Sekulic. She sees the highest chances of the Montenegrin economy's recovery in the continued implementation of large infrastructure projects.

Debt increased by €3bn, deficit by €850m

Montenegro's public debt has quadrupled in 14 years, the foreign trade deficit increased by €850m. Pensions have doubled, and salaries have risen by €233. The cost of living has also risen dramatically over that period. Its GDP has increased over two and a half times since 2006 by a total of €3bn. At the end of 2006, Montenegro's public debt amounted to €701m. At the end of 2019, it amounted to €3.83bn, which is an increase of €3.12bn. Montenegro's GDP was €1.83bn 14 years ago, while now it is €4.8bn. The share of public debt in GDP rose from 38.3% to almost 80%. Fourteen years ago, the average pension was €142, while the average retirement payment last month was €288.7. Average salaries in 2006 were €282, and by 2009, they amounted to €463. Now the average wage is around €510.

Xi'an city donates a ventilator to Kotor hospital

Kotor General Hospital has received a ventilator, a donation from its Chinese sister city, Xi'an. Kotor's mayor, Zeljko Aprcovic, thanked the Chinese ambassador to Montenegro, Liu Jin, and the Montenegrin ambassador in Beijing, Darko Pajovic, for their help in obtaining the ventilator. It is recalled that the Municipality of Kotor recently donated 6,500 protective masks to the hospital.

This brief is kindly prepared for you by Arhimed & Represent Communications.

Photo galleries and videos