Even though the numbers of new infected patients on a daily basis from the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the people who died as of result of the COVID-19 infection in North Macedonia are dropping, the pandemic is still far from over and the people still have to continue to obey the mitigation measures, the epidemiologists warn.
Compared to the other Balkan countries, North Macedonia registers a noticeable stagnation of the disease. For example, the percentage of people who died has dropped from 4.2% in September to 3% in the last days of 2020 and the start of 2021. But, if the death rate upon 100.000 people is taken into account, Macedonia is still close to the top, second only to Slovenia.
The former director of the Public Health Center of Skopje, Dr. Aleksandar Stojanov, for Meta.mk says that we should not drop our defenses just because the number of newly infected COVID-19 cases and deaths is dropping. On the contrary, he says, we should continue to be careful and obey the measures. microbiologist, PhD. Nikola Panovski, a microbiologist, agrees with him and says that it would be absurd for the people to drop guard.
“Regarding the numbers, we are evidencing a drop of 30% compared to what was happening previously. About the short-term expectations, let’s wait for the incubation period of the gatherings from the New Year’s celebrations or the religious holidays to end, and then towards the end January, we shall be able to assess the situation better. I think it is too early to ease the measures that are currently enforced. The celebration of the Epiphany is about the happen and we should be very careful,” said Stojanov.
Comparing the movements of the total number of infected in the Balkan Peninsula, it can be noticed that in Serbia and Slovenia they are still growing, with the same intensity as before. The situation is similar in Croatia and Bulgaria, even though the growth there has been lowered. while in Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, and Kosovo, the growth of newly infected cases is stagnating.
According to Stojanov, neither the arrival of the announced initial vaccines against COVID-19 in February and March will mean that the pandemic will end.
“The vaccine gives hope, but it doesn’t mean the pandemic will end. There is a group of children aged up to 16 that won’t be vaccinated, therefore, the vaccination won’t be massive,” said Stojanov.
PhD Panovski, a microbiologist, thinks that it would be absurd if people started to relax now, especially those in the risky categories.
“It is like going to the front and getting killed one month before the liberation. Therefore, let’s be careful. The number of new infections is still not low, as it is far from the 100-150 daily cases we had during the previous summer. The dropping of the numbers is a result of people’s increased awareness of the virus, but in their closest or distant surroundings they have either sick or deceased people. We have a collective immunity, we certainly have 400.000 people who have overcome the sickness. With the vaccine and the rise of the temperatures gradually the measures will be lowered. I think even if people were given freedom, they would still have to be careful. For concerts, cinemas, theatres, we shall wait another year for certain,” said Panovski.