COVID-19 pandemic in Serbia

The COVID-19 pandemic in Serbia is a current outbreak of the disease COVID-19 in Serbia caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. Its first case in Serbia was reported on 6 March 2020, and confirmed by Minister of Health Zlatibor Lončar, the case was a 43-year-old man from Bačka Topola who had travelled to Budapest.As of 27 February 2021, a total of 456,450 confirmed cases, 4,429 deaths, and 3,912 hospitalized cases have been reported in the country. Also, a total of 2,930,139 individuals had been tested.In late June 2020, the Balkan Insight published a report based on the allegedly leaked data from the internal Government COVID-19 information system. This report stated that in reality, Serbia had recorded 632 deaths due to COVID-19 in the period from 19 March to 1 June 2020, which corresponds to 388 additional deaths caused by the virus that were not publicly reported. Additionally, according to the leaked data, the number of people who became infected in Serbia from 17 June to 20 June was at least 300 per day, while public reports never accounted for more than 96 cases per day in the same period. Recovery figures were also disputed, with the Public Health Institute of Montenegro formally requesting an explanation from Serbian authorities in early June following a reported recovery of 4,000 patients in one day. Earlier, the index case was also disputed after the Public Health Institute publicly revealed that the first case was registered a week before the officially reported index case.In September 2020, NIN weekly released research results that show a significant discrepancy between the data on the number of infected persons and the number of tests that were released by the Government during July and the data that was obtained from individual public health institutions through the freedom of information requests. The discrepancy shows that the Government released data inflated the number of tests that were conducted and that the number of infected persons was decreased by at least 59% during July.Thousands of medical doctors have signed a petition requesting the release of true data and accountability for forging the data. Several senior department chiefs at Military Medical Academy have been dismissed after supporting the open letter. In August 2020 Professor Goran Belojević of the University of Belgrade Faculty of Medicine publicly stated that Serbia has registered 5,000 deaths.On 29 September 2020, Predrag Kon, chief epidemiologist and a member of the state anti-COVID-19 Crisis Team, publicly admitted that there is a delay in data processing and that the number of deaths until the end of June was three times higher than officially reported (277). Health Minister refuted those claims the next day saying that they are "unfounded" and warned Kon against making such comments again.

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