A huge town hall has been transformed into a makeshift hospital with thousands of beds in a mammoth effort to separate coronavirus patients from the general public in Serbia’s capital city, Belgrade.
The Spens Hall is normally used for hosting the Belgrade Fair, but now it is set to serve a whole new purpose after members of the Defense Ministry and the Serbian Armed Forces transformed it this week.
The hall will have the capacity to accomodate up to 3000 sick people, Serbia’s Defense Minister Alexander Vulin said in a statement.
“The Serbian Armed Forces will be ready to meet any need and provide whatever is necessary to treat people here. As well as working here, we are ready to do anything in any city in Serbia as needed,” he wrote.
It comes after the government on Friday (local time) introduced tighter measures including closing down cafes, restaurants and parks.
The airport and all road and rail borders other than to freight traffic, as well as all internal passenger transport, were also halted to try and stop the spread of the virus.
Medical experts have warned the peak of the epidemic is expected in the coming weeks, with 303 people having tested positive to coronavirus so far in Serbia and three people dying.
Six doctors from China were flown in on Saturday, as well as ventilators and face masks to help in the country’s fight against COVID-19.
The doctors are set to assess the suitability of the makeshift medical centre, and advise of any required adjustments, Mr Vulin said.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the clinic for infectious diseases was nearly at capacity.
“A big thank you to President Xi Jinping, the Chinese communist party and the Chinese people,” Mr Vucic said.
The Minister of Defence emphasised the armed forces were “ready to do the same thing” in any other Serbian city to aid in stopping the virus’ spread.
“All the members of the system of our Ministry of Defence and the Serbian Armed Forces are here today to work, like every other day, and are at our citizens’ disposal,” he said.
On Sunday, a state of emergency was declared, with the movement of people older than 65 restricted in urban areas, and over 70 in rural regions.
A curfew banning people from going outside between the hours of 5pm and 5am has also been introduced.
In Australia, confirmed cases climbed to 2,250 overnight, which included a two-month-old boy and a seven-year-old girl testing positive to the virus.
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