Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic repeatedly denied any attempt by her government to hide data about the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking at the first of what she said would be regular news conferences by members of the pandemic Crisis Staff, Brnabic said that everything her government did to combat the pandemic was done transparently and accused investigative media of creating a lack of trust in the government.
Brnabic was not wearing a face mask during the news conference even though the Crisis Staff which she heads imposed the mandatory wearing of masks indoors in the Serbian capital.
Brnabic responded in length to a question from the BIRN investigative portal, repeating that the portal had launched the idea that the authorities cannot be trusted and asking who would benefit from that.
“What hurts me most is that if you from BIRN had any honorable intention you would have talked to us about those figures before publishing them. We have no written proof that you tried… You accused us, didn’t as our opinion before you published and said: No Trust,” she said. BIRN reported recently that it had been granted access to the government’s COVID-19 data base which, it said, showed that the number of coronavirus-related deaths was much higher than officially reported by the government pandemic Crisis Staff.
Brnabic responded to the report on a pro-government TV, saying that anyone who shows coronavirus symptoms but dies when they are hit by a bus are entered into the COVID-19 data base.
In an effort to explain the discrepancies in the officially released figures for infections and deaths and the numbers in the COVID data base which BIRN said it had access to, Brnabic said that the data base was far from perfect, adding that there was no data base before the pandemic and that it was set up hurriedly.
“We would not have set up the data base if we wanted to hide anything,” she said. “If we didn’t want to be transparent we would not have that data base. We made it in just 48 hours, we never had one before. Everyone criticized it … and now suddenly the data base is the Bible. I’ll list 78 shortcomings in it, there’s an explanation for everyong in it,” the Prime Minister said.
“I don’t see a theory which would cause us to lie. The figures are certainly not precise enough,” she said and added that the numbers would be reviewed at some point.