BELGRADE, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- Wearing face masks both indoors and outdoors became obligatory in Serbia starting on Friday, after the country once again reported a rising number of new COVID-19 cases.
At Friday's meeting, the crisis-response team for the suppression of COVID-19 made the decision to make protection masks mandatory both in closed and in open spaces, the government said in a statement. Serbia had imposed mandatory use of masks indoors in July this year.
Darija Kisic Tepavcevic, member of the team, explained that the decision was adopted due to increasing respiratory infections among the population, typical for the autumn season.
On Thursday, another 203 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Serbia, marking an increase in the rate of infection, after a period of standstill.
Besides the decision to wear masks both indoors and outdoors and ensure physical distance, people in Serbia are banned from organizing gatherings, while bars and restaurants should close earlier than usual.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), face masks should be used as part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress COVID-19 transmission and save lives.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreaks in early 2020, wearing masks in public has been widely accepted in Asian countries like China, South Korea, and Japan to limit the spread of the disease.
In addition, the Belgrade Arena, Serbia's biggest sports and concert venue, will once again be turned into a temporary COVID-19 hospital, and will start receiving patients from Monday, she announced.
Since the beginning of the outbreak in March, Serbia confirmed 35,454 COVID-19 cases by performing over 1.2 million tests. So far 770 people died from the disease.
Currently, there are 359 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, 25 of them on respiratory ventilators.