Epidemiologists warn of rapidly rising number of coronavirus cases

NEWS 19.01.2022 11:02
Source: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Serbian epidemiologists warned on Wednesday that a majority of the country’s population will be infected with the omicron variant of the coronavirus in the next few weeks, adding that the number of hospitalized patients is rising rapidly.

According to Dr Radmilo Petrovic, the number of omicron cases is three or four times higher than diagnosed in laboratory tests. He said that 70 percent of the population of Serbia will be infected by the end of March. Petrovic told Vecernje Novosti daily that more than a quarter of a million people have been infected, the vast majority of who have not been registered as sick. “We will detect only a small number of omicron cases while the rest of the diseased will be walking around without showing symptoms,” Petrovic said and added that the number of new cases will continue rising for at least another two weeks and start dropping off in mid-February.

The CEO of the Belgrade City Lung Disease Institute Dr Ljiljana Timotijevic warned that the number of new cases is rising rapidly. She told the state TV on Wednesday that her staff examined 30 patients that morning alone. The doctor said that the number of patients with serious symptoms who need hospitalization was also rising.

Her warning was played down somewhat by Health Ministry State Secretary Mirsad Djerlek who said that the public should not be afraid but should be cautious. “The infection rate is high but just about six percent of the sick require hospitalization,” he said. Djerlek agreed that the number of new cases will continue to rise for at least the next three or four weeks.

Epidemiologist Zoran Radovanovic told N1 that he also believes the number of new cases is much higher than official figures show. He warned that the long lines of patients waiting for hours in front of COVID facilities show that the health system is collapsing. “It’s highly inhuman to allow patients to spend hours waiting in line and that means that the system is collapsing,” he said.

“We can assume that this is the final big wave and could end relatively quickly,” the doctor said.