April 29, 2020 / 1:19 PM / a month ago

Bosnia reports sharp rise in coronavirus cases after relaxing lockdown

SARAJEVO, April 29 (Reuters) - Bosnia on Wednesday reported its sharpest daily rise in coronavirus infections this month after its two autonomous regions had gradually begun to ease lockdowns.

There were 93 new infections and two deaths in the previous 24 hours, compared with 20 new infections a day earlier and 49 the day before that, officials said.

The total number of infected people rose to 1,677 with 65 deaths, while 29,130 have been tested.

Fifty-nine new cases were reported in Bosnia’s autonomous Serb Republic alone, with officials urging citizens to continue to avoid gatherings and to wear masks at all times.

The region on Monday allowed seniors to leave homes for three hours each workday and some businesses to reopen.

The other autonomous region, the Bosniak-Croat Federation, on Friday lifted a night curfew and abolished a measure of obligatory quarantine, also allowing seniors and children to leave home every second day for several hours.

After the outbreak of COVID-19 last month, both regions barred people over 65 and children up to 18 from leaving their homes at all.

These measures will be reinstated during the three-day Labour Day holidays, officials said, adding the people were behaving in a more relaxed manner after the restrictions had been loosened.

“We are aware that we’ll see new peaks and trends of the disease, but we have to go back to normal life,” said Goran Cerkez, the federation assistant health minister.

“We shall see how that proceeds and whether we have to reinstate restrictions will depend on the citizens.”

Bosnia’s economy has been hit hard because of lockdowns and the closure of many businesses. The International Monetary Fund has forecast growth to shrink 5% this year. (Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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