March 20, 2020 / 6:14 PM / in 15 days

Serbia reports first death from coronavirus, extends restrictions

A convict manufactures surgical masks and other protective gear to help cover the huge demand triggered by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in correctional prison in Nis, Serbia, March 20, 2020. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

BELGRADE (Reuters) - A 59-year-old Serbian man died from the coronavirus on Friday, the country’s first death from the pandemic, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said, and authorities extended restrictions on movement in efforts to limit transmission of the disease.

“Unfortunately we have lost a first life. We will be fighting for the life of every person,” Brnabic told a news conference, adding that the man came from Serbia’s northern province of Vojvodina and had previously been in ill health.

The Balkan country’s health authorities have confirmed 135 cases of coronavirus infection so far, with eight people seriously ill and in hospital.

Brnabic announced tougher measures starting at 8 p.m. on Saturday to curb the spread of the virus, including an indefinite ban on public transport in urban areas and closure of all restaurants, cafes and shopping malls.

A state of emergency was imposed on March 15, shutting border crossings, halting commercial commuting inside the country and banning airline flights to and from the country.

The Belgrade government also introduced an 8 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew earlier this week and ordered the elderly to stay indoors at all times.

Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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