Mirsad Djerlek, a Serbia’s Health Ministry official, said on Tuesday it was certain the country’s Crisis Response Team would introduce two new measures, including COVID-19 passes to curb the increasing number of newly infected and fatalities due to a new wave of the coronavirus epidemic.
The other measure would be to reduce the number of people at gatherings, Djerlek told the Belgrade Blic daily.
He said the state was doing everything in its power to protect people but that it could not do that alone and appealed to collective responsibility and mass vaccination.
Serbia started mass immunisation in January and offered a total of four different types of vaccines by the time. However, the response is still poor due to a strong anti-vaxxers’ campaign and the spread of conspiracy theories about the virus and the health dangers of shots.
“We now need 80 percent of vaccinated people. Honestly, the introduction of COVID-19 passes is considered, and I expect the issue to be talked about at the next meeting” (of the Crisis Response Team), Djerlek said.
He added he did not agree with some assessments that the passes would be tantamount to discrimination among the immunised and those who were not since the state did not make the vaccination compulsory.
“What would be asked for is that the vaccinated, or those who survived COVID-19 or have a test showing they are not infected provide evidence to that. That’s all,” Djerlek said.
Earlier, the state tried to motivate people to get immunised by offering vouchers in shopping malls and had recently announced a lottery as a possible way to increase people’s willingness to receive the shots.
In the meantime, many of those already fully vaccinated have opted for the third booster dose.
Djerlek did not explain who would control the possible passes, how that would be done and whether they would be compulsory for mass gatherings, such as sports events both in and outdoor.
The number of newly infected in Serbia jumped to over 4,000 on Monday, almost entirely among non-vaccinated people.
That forces some hospitals to return to the COVID regime, making it challenging to treat non-COVID patients.