Bosnia’s Presidency supported on Monday the initiative to set up quarantines at border crossings and has ordered the army to put all of its resources at disposal for the fight against the coronavirus.
A number of measures were agreed during an extraordinary session of Bosnia’s Presidency, called up to determine what the country should do next to stop the virus from spreading and to soften the economic damage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anyone crossing the border would have to spend 14 days in quarantines set up at the reduced number of border crossings that will remain open.
The army must put its equipment at disposal to health authorities, the Presidency said.
Bosnians living abroad are urged to refrain from visiting Bosnia for some time and the Presidency will consider the possibility of reaching into the reserves of the Central Bank to soften the financial damage the pandemic will cause.
Current Presidency Chairman Zeljko Komsic, who is in self-isolation after having visited Canada, took part via video-link. The extended session includes the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Zoran Tegeltija, Security Minister, Fahrudin Radoncic, Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Minister, Stasa Kosarac and Foreign Affairs Minister Bisera Turkovic.
The prime ministers of the two semi-autonomous entities, Radovan Viskovic and Fadil Novalic, also participated in the meeting along with Republika Srpska (RS) Health Minister Alen Seranic and the mayor of the Brcko district, Sinisa Milic.
The Bosniak and Serb member of the Presidency spoke to media following the session.
“I would like to appeal to the citizens to strictly obey the guidelines of the competent institutions which are managing this crisis and to obey the advice and suggestions they are given,” Bosniak member Sefik Dzaferovic said.
“My other message is for those citizens who live outside of Bosnia and Herzegovina and reside elsewhere to refrain from coming to Bosnia if not absolutely necessary so they don’t expose themselves or others,” he added.
“We have not come here to tell fairy tales, the virus is dangerous. It will change our way of life,” said the Serb member of the Presidency, Milorad Dodik said, arguing that citizens who work in Western countries brought the coronavirus to Bosnia.
He appealed to institutions to introduce rigorous measures, arguing that Bosnia must do all it can to avoid the scenario in Italy where “doctors had to choose among patients.”
"Everybody must stay home and have as little social contact as possible so we can prevent the dangerous pandemic that could damage our society from spreading,” he said.
Dodik mentioned that the EU imposed an export ban for certain medical protective equipment which he said is “very bad for us.”
“And we will not forget this,” he added.
Dodik also said there are cases of Bosnians being deported from Austria, Germany and other countries because they do not have insurance there.
“We have banned entry to foreigners from certain countries, but the way things seem, we might have to ban entry to all foreigners,” he said. Dodik also predicted that Bosnia will face big economic issues.
There have been 25 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bosnia until now.