Coronavirus at the gates: gov’t increases security measures

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 26, 2020 17:09

Coronavirus at the gates: gov’t increases security measures

TIRANA, Feb. 25 - Health authorities in Albania confirmed they are increasing measures to prevent the coronavirus, which has officially arrived in neighboring Italy, from entering the country.

Officials said there is no reason for Albanians to panic and that citizens should trust doctors to face any possible danger. 

“All Chinese nationals who returned to Albania after the Chinese New Year were kept under control during the quarantine phase and the structures are fully equipped and capable of discovering this new disease,” said the Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Institute of Public Health Silva Bino. 

Concern was heightened when, unlike when it was still confined in Chinese territory, it was made official the virus has now approached as close as the north of Italy, as approximately 14 air and sea routes operate daily between the two countries. 

Albania has also designated a hospital facility as a quarantine site that meets all the standards set by the World Health Organization, although it has not disclosed its location for safety and ethical reasons. 

“We have designated a hospital facility which meets all standards as a quarantine site, evaluated also by us as a technical committee. Quarantine is not the place where the sick are treated, but it is a place for healthy persons who are suspected as infected or those who have had contact with sick persons to stay until further notice. We have other structures available, if needed. Trust in health structures,” said Bino. 

Albania has doubled its health personnel at border points in an effort to tighten controls on travelers coming from countries affected by the coronavirus.

Health measures were also added to Albania's seaports, airports and landmarks following news of the presence of coronavirus in neighboring Italy.

The government has set up a special team to prevent, control and protect the population against the new coronavirus, according to government health officials, while experts and managers of health institutions called for increased hospital and laboratory personnel as well as more protective measures to prevent coronavirus penetration in Albania.


Gov’t to withhold interrupting flights with Italy 

 Albania has decided not to interrupt the air and sea routes with Italy for the time being, although there are over 200 cases of coronavirus verified in the neighboring country and five people suffering from other complications have lost their lives.

"Our measures will be proportional to the degree of risk," Health Minister Ogerta Manastirliu said during a Task Force meeting that took place at Tirana's Mother Teresa International Airport.

Seventeen flights from 11 Italian cities arrived at the airport on February 24 only, 7 of which come from the northern area of ​​the country where the most cases of coronavirus have been verified.

Manastirliu explained that "the measures taken by Albania are in accordance with the protocols approved by the World Health Organization", and currently consist of doubling the medical personnel at border crossing points, as well as at ports and airports. 

Meanwhile, about 4,500 travelers who have arrived in the country have been subject to verification. 

At location two passageways have been set up where passengers are subjected to temperature measurements by laser thermometers, while authorities take pre-orders from flight companies and passenger lists.

There have so far been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Albania so far. At least 6 suspected cases were negative after the analysis. Another case is awaiting the analysis response.

Manastirliu declared that "there is no room for panic", and invited the citizens to increase their hygiene care. She said she also signed an order on Monday for increased hygiene measures at school institutions.


Citizens’ fears unleash on pharmacies 

Meanwhile, thousands of citizens turned to pharmacies to buy masks and other equipment to prevent coronavirus infection.

Pharmacists claim they are doing their best, although citizen concern is very high.

The Albanian prosecution has launched investigations into several cases of abuse of drug prices, as the concern for the virus remains high. 

Although not formally part of the health emergency task force, it is pharmacists who are conversing with thousands of citizens in panic, becoming the leading and healing counselors to family members across the country.

Pharmacist Armand Koni said that "the situation can be overcome successfully if all health structures cooperate and do not operate in isolation, pursuing partial objectives.”

Pharmacists explain that China is the largest producer of medical gloves and masks and that they are currently not supplying other countries regularly because they are keeping them for themselves, thus creating a market deficit which was quickly resolved.

In these days of massive citizen concern about coronavirus, the capillary network of pharmacies is explaining to them that beyond putting on an individual mask, virus prevention has more to do with community health culture.

The Director of the Pharmacist's Order Diana Toma said that “all pharmacies in Albania these days have become centers of consultation and medical education for citizens in direct conversations.”

Pharmacists told local media they are citizens’ safest allies and dismissed allegations towards the pharmaceutical network about price hikes or low product quality, emphasizing their commitment to work alongside concerned citizens.

Health authorities in Albania doubled measures to prevent coronavirus from entering neighboring Italy. Officials said citizens should trust doctors to handle this risk.


Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 26, 2020 17:09