SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — The rising number of coronavirus cases in Bosnia prompted the World Health Organization on Monday to call on authorities to increase contact tracing and testing, or the Balkan country risks being faced with overfilled and understaffed hospitals.
"We see a really sharp increase and concern is that this will lead to an overcrowding of hospitals," Victor Olsavszky, the head of the WHO office in Bosnia.
Olsavszky added that the worrisome pandemic trajectory in Bosnia was not markedly different than in other Western Balkan countries, singling out North Macedonia and Serbia as having even bigger surges.
On several occasions over the past two weeks, major hospitals around Bosnia have warned that their COVID-19 care units were nearing capacity.
So far, the Balkan country of 3.5 million people has tallied close to 10,500 virus cases, with 294 deaths.
Nearly 80% of all virus cases were registered since mid-May, when a strict, nearly two-month-long, coronavirus lockdown was lifted.
Despite the mounting number of infections, people in Bosnia and around the Balkans appear to be bending or ignoring social distancing rules, increasingly gathering in uncomfortably close quarters and ditching protective face masks.