1. Preventing transmission
The section on PREVENTING TRANSMISSION includes information on key public health measures that aim to prevent the further spread of the disease. It details how countries are advising the general public and people who (might) have the disease to prevent further spread, as well as measures in place to test and identify cases, trace contacts, and monitor the scale of the outbreak.
1.1 Health communication
Health authorities continue sending messages through public appearances and video commercials in national and local media related to the prevention of COVID-19, including through social distancing and respiratory hygiene.
The network of Institutes of Public Health, led by the National Institute of Public Health, has developed and published a series of detailed instructions and recommendations on infection prevention and control measures to be implemented during the transition period for the general population, businesses and institutions (http://www.batut.org.rs/index.php?content=2070). The recommendations include the use of face masks, good cleaning practices, staying indoors, and how to behave in kindergartens, schools, parks, public transportation, sport facilities, hairdressers and beauty salons, shopping facilities and restaurants.
The WHO Country Office has developed a social media campaign with a focus on the transition phase. The campaign targeting youth and the working-age population has started on 5 May on Facebook and YouTube. It contains animated videos and social media posts and will be implemented until July 2020.
On July 3, the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the Ministry of Health presented a new video that will be transmitted on all national TV stations. The video warns the population on the increased number of COVID-19 cases across the world and it reminds citizens on the importance of wearing face masks indoors, particularly, shops and public transport, keeping the distance, avoiding hand shaking and washing hands frequently.
In January 2020, the National Institute of Public Health of Serbia (NIPHS) jointly with the WHO Country Office Serbia conducted a media conference, where official advice on hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and physical distancing was issued.
On 4 February 2020, more than a month before the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Serbia, the WHO Country Office, upon the NIPHS’s request, shared the COVID-19 (2019-nCoV) communication material (produced by WHO) with the NIPHS and the NIPHS immediately posted it on its website.
On 6 March 2020, the first confirmed case of COVID 19 was reported in the Republic of Serbia. Since then, the Government, with the Ministry of Health, has held daily or bi-daily press conferences. The press conferences are led by the highest officials – the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Health and the leadership of the National Institute of Public Health, with participation of leading epidemiologists and infectious diseases experts. During the conferences an epidemiological overview is provided, the government explains new measures and communicates to the public messages related to social distancing and hygiene.
On 6 March 2020, a special website (https://covid19.rs/) was established by the Ministry of Health. It is updated daily with all relevant information on COVID-19. The webpage is also a source of preventive information for the general population in both Serbian and English languages, with advice on hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and physical distancing. The Ministry of Health produced several video clips on this topic that are promoted through national TV channels and the COVID-19 website. The WHO Country Office, UNICEF, the Red Cross, local Institutes of Public Health and local governments developed or translated numerous materials on hand hygiene, social distancing, mental health and distributed them through social media and in print form. Print form was used to target particularly vulnerable populations with less access to social media, such as older people and Roma.