'Serbia has hidden at least 280 COVID-19 deaths in three months'

Serbia has hidden at least 280 COVID-19 deaths in three months
 In the period from March 19 to June 1 this year, a total of 632 people died in Serbia who tested positive for COVID-19, twice as many as the officially announced number of 244 deaths in that period, according to BIRN, after analyzing data obtained from the state information system for COVID-19.

Another data provided by the state information system for COVID-19 also shows that the number of people infected in Serbia from June 17 to June 20 was at least 300 per day.

This is far more than the officially announced figures, which recorded a maximum of 97 new cases in a single day during that period. On June 21, Serbia held its elections amid a sharp rise in infections.

BIRN conducted a detailed analysis of the data from the information system, focusing on the patients who died and that the result of their COVID-19 test was positive.

The largest discrepancy in the number of deaths was observed at the Clinical Center in Nis, a city in southern Serbia, where according to officially published data, 77 patients died from the virus. However, data available to BIRN show that 243 people died, the test results for which were positive - 166 more than were officially recorded as deaths from COVID-19.

At the Dragisa Misovic Clinical Center in Belgrade, the number of people who died of COVID-19 was 94, while the state reported only 39 deaths. At several other clinical centers in Belgrade, there have been significant discrepancies in mortality rates. A total of 32 people who tested positive for COVID-19 were officially reported to have died at the Zemun Clinical Center, while only 88 deaths were reported.

According to official figures, a total of 14 COVID-19 patients died at the Zvezdara Clinical Center in Belgrade, but the system shows a total of 59 deaths. At Serbia's Clinical Center, officials said 33 people had died, but the state database for COVID-19 showed 50 deaths from infected patients.

In other hospitals in Serbia, there has also been a discrepancy between the number of patients officially reported to have died from the virus and the number of deaths of infected patients, although the changes in figures are not as drastic. In the case of 29 patients, the name of the hospital in which they died is not stated.

The first death by COVID-19 was recorded in the state information system on March 19. The highest number of deaths was in mid-April, when an average of 20 people died within a day, but the number of daily deaths dropped. On April 12, the state announced that six people had died from the virus, but the system recorded just 23.

The next day, it was reported that five patients had died, but the system recorded 23 COVID-19 deaths.

On April 15, when it was officially announced that five people had died, the system showed that there were 20 deaths of infected patients.

Officials avoid questions about the number of deaths from the virus.

After declaring a state of emergency on March 15, Serbs could learn the latest information about pandemic through regular press conferences held by the National Crisis Staff, an organ headed by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and mostly composed of medical experts.

The press conferences ended on May 6 when the state of emergency was lifted, and the public and the media were told they could get the latest information through the official COVID-19 website, which should publish data from the state information system.

After raising suspicions among opposition politicians and social media users that the figures could be much higher than the officially published figures, BIRN sent a request for information on May 8 to the Batut Institute, which manages the COVID-19 information system.

BIRN requested data on the total number of deaths caused by coronavirus, as well as data on which hospital they died in, their gender and age.

The Batut Institute took 40 days to provide the required information, although all of its data is being collected electronically.

On June 16, the Batut Institute finally sent the data to BIRN, which was identical to those already published on the official website for COVID-19 information, which stated that 244 people died from COVID-19 from March 19 to June 1st.

BIRN tried several times to get additional answers from the director of the Batut Institute, Verica Jovanovic, but she refused to answer questions made over the phone and in person.

On June 18, a BIRN journalist went to the Institute and met with Jovanovic, , but she again refused to answer questions, saying she could talk to a journalist on June 22 and only in the presence of a lawyer. Despite the planned meeting, Jovanovic refused to meet with BIRN reporter on that date.

BIRN tried to contact the Serbian Minister of Health, the Prime Minister's Office, some expert members of the National Crisis Staff and many of the directors of Serbia's clinical centers, but they either did not answer BIRN's phone calls or refused to answer questions. .

The issue of the exact number of deaths from coronavirus has been a hot topic around the world because different countries sometimes use different reporting methods. Russia, for example, is accused of not reporting the exact number of deaths from the virus but argues that its method is more accurate because it only includes people who have died from the virus, not infected people who have died from other problems.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on May 1 that Serbia would not hide the true number of coronavirus-related deaths, saying "they died of other causes".

"We will not hide anything, as some others do," Vucic said.
'Serbia has hidden at least 280 COVID-19 deaths in three months' 'Serbia has hidden at least 280 COVID-19 deaths in three months' Monday, June 29, 2020 Rating: 5
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