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No one knows how long COVID-19 pandemic will last, life must go on, says PHI head

COVID-19 knows no rules and attacks both young and old, sick and healthy. This is still and an unfamiliar infection for all of us and we need more time to prepare relevant statistics. The virus can adapt both to high and low temperatures. However, I'm optimistic that the number of new patients will start to wane, Public Health Institute (PHI) director Aleksandar Stojanov told Radio Free Europe on Sunday. 

Skopje, 9 August 2020 (MIA) – COVID-19 knows no rules and attacks both young and old, sick and healthy. This is still and an unfamiliar infection for all of us and we need more time to prepare relevant statistics. The virus can adapt both to high and low temperatures. However, I’m optimistic that the number of new patients will start to wane, Public Health Institute (PHI) director Aleksandar Stojanov told Radio Free Europe on Sunday.

He stressed in the interview that health workers are tired but the issue now is raised whether the healthcare system can bear the financial burden of the pandemic.

Medical personnel can’t be imported, Stojanov added, stressing the importance of abiding by protective measures.

According to him, young people are more active and have a higher risk of being exposed to the virus, while pensioners are being more careful.

“We’re doing the best we can. It would have been easier if the number of new patients was lower, but that’s not the case. However, I’m optimistic that numbers will go down, not up. The only issue that remains is whether the system can bear the financial burden. We have a lot of expenditures, but no adequate financial aid. Moreover, people are getting tired and need rest,” the director said.

Regarding the start of the new school year, he underlined that no one knows when the pandemic will end and students can safely return to school.

Larger classes are most problematic. Combined classes provide a solution, allowing half the students to attend classes in person, while the rest take part in remote learning and rotate each week.

“Students have to return to school because the situation can last for a long while. No one knows when the pandemic will end and students can safely return to school. Can we keep kids home for the next two years? Safety measures apply to all: social distancing, wearing face masks, regular disinfection. But how will they be implemented at schools? Nonetheless, life goes on and children have to recieve an education. The same applies to kindergartens,” Stojanov said.

Regarding high COVID-19 mortality rate in North Macedonia, he pointed out two factors: the healthcare system and statistical data. Contrary to other countries, North Macedonia has transparently reported on the number of coronavirus casualties.

“Germany’s health system handled severe cases the best. Our healthcare system, on the other hand, is weaker. Moreover, we include both patients who pass away at hospitals and at home in COVID-19 statistics and have even performed post mortem tests in order to keep an eye and isolate the contacts of the deceased, while other countries only add to tally patients who die at hospitals,” the PHI head said.

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