North Macedonia PM and other ministers to isolate after virus contact

By: AFP      Published: 08:32 PM, 16 Apr, 2020
North Macedonia PM and other ministers to isolate after virus contact

North Macedonia's prime minister Oliver Spasovski and three other cabinet members will go into self-isolation after they met with a mayor who has tested positive for coronavirus, the government said on Thursday.

The group, which also included deputy prime minister Bujar Osmani, health minister Venko Filipce and education minister Arber Ademi, met on Wednesday with the mayor of the northern city of Kumanovo, who was later found to be infected.

"At this moment all of them are going into home self-isolation", the government said in a written statement, adding that the cabinet would continue to operate through digital means.

The four men are part of an interim government in charge of the Balkan state until elections postponed over coronavirus concerns can be held. The leaders of the state's two leading political parties also started a 14-day isolation a week ago after giving interviews to a journalist with the virus. Both have tested negative so far.

COVID-19 has killed at least 45 people in the country of around two million people, while authorities have confirmed nearly 1,000 infections. North Macedonia swiftly shuttered schools, shops and banned gatherings after the first coronavirus cases were detected in early March.

Authorities are also now enforcing an evening curfew and a 24-hour lockdown over the weekends. A state of emergency will be extended for an additional 30 days, the President announced on Thursday.

Filipce, who has become a popular figure for his handling of the crisis, assured he would continue to work from home. "Even from isolation I will stay in regular communication with the commission for infectious diseases and will continue to coordinate all processes for managing the crisis", he said.

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