Kosovo has become the world’s most deadly country for Covid-19 despite the fact it has Europe’s youngest population, as the republic’s divided political class struggles to contain the virus.
Over the last week, the death rate in Kosovo jumped to 54.2 fatalities per million people, making the republic of 1.8 million the world’s leader when it comes to per capita deaths from the virus, according to figures from John Hopkins University.
Columbia is in second place, with 50 fatalities per million people. Avdullah Hoti, the prime minister who tested positive for the virus in early August, has warned that the hospitals across the country were running out of beds due to an influx of new Covid cases.
He has also said the government was prepared to bring in new restrictions in an effort to contain the virus.
Despite Kosovo’s young population – 53 percent of its people are under the age of 25 – it has proved particularly vulnerable to the pandemic.
Kosovo is one of Europe’s poorest countries and has a fragile health service, but it has also had to endure political instability that has undermined attempts to contain the virus.
In March, just as Covid-19 was taking a grip, the country was thrown into constitutional chaos when the government collapsed following a no-confidence vote.
The vote itself was precipitated by a clash between Albin Kurti, the prime minister at the time, and Hashim Thaci, the president, over how to limit the spread of the virus.
The ousting of the government brought with it the sacking of the health minister and other health, derailing the state’s response to the public health emergency.
Mr Hoti’s government has also been accused of lifting anti-virus restrictions too early. The political instability has put more pressure on Kosovo’s ailing health service.
Since March some 1,200 health professionals have been infected with the coronavirus, including 494 doctors, seven of whom have died.
In early August nurses protested in the capital Pristina, calling for their salaries to be doubled to €36 a day.