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Health system fully prepared for possible COVID-19 surge: minister

The health system is fully prepared for a possible new wave of COVID-19 infections. I want to reassure the citizens that we are prepared for the coming months in the autumn with equipment, hospital capacities and staff, Health Minister Venko Filipche said Wednesday.

Skopje, 2 September 2020 (MIA) – The health system is fully prepared for a possible new wave of COVID-19 infections. I want to reassure the citizens that we are prepared for the coming months in the autumn with equipment, hospital capacities and staff, Health Minister Venko Filipche said Wednesday.

In an interview with Kanal 5 TV’s political show, he said the coronavirus epidemic is under control.

“The number of positive cases out of the total number of tests conducted is dropping. It has been dropping for weeks and also the number of patients admitted to hospital is also dropping, which is very important. The hospitals now are almost empty most likely because people are mostly outdoors where the chances of the new virus spreading is lower,” Filipche said.

He also contributed the decrease in confirmed cases to the wide testing approach and contact tracing to discover the disease in the early stages as well as asymptomatic cases.

“Nearly 30 per cent of the total number of cases are asymptomatic carriers. It is something that allows us to have an insight into the epidemic,” the Health Minister stated.

As the autumn is approaching, he said, we don’t expect the number of new cases to drop drastically.

“In early September, people are getting back to work, kindergartens are reopening, the frequency of communicating is increasing, which is a risk that could deteriorate the epidemic. To that end, we are improving the capacities,” Filipche reiterated.

Asked about the COVID-19 vaccine which is being developed, the Minister said that it won’t be mandatory once it is available in North Macedonia.

“The vaccine is being developed in a safe platform. It is in the third stage of clinical trials,” Filipche said adding he and his family are prepared and willing to receive the shot.

There are two mechanisms for the country to procure the vaccine, he noted.

One mechanism, according to him, involves WHO’s COVAX program, through which it is expected the vaccine to be distributed equally to all counties until 20 percent of the population is vaccinated against the disease.

“The second mechanism is through the EU. The Oxford vaccine, expected to be produced by AstraZeneca, will be provided by the country through the Polish embassy which has offered us to buy a certain number of doses out of those offered to them,” he explained.

According to Minister Filipche, realistically the vaccine will be available in early 2021.

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