BELGRADE, Serbia  

Coronavirus cases in Western Balkan countries continued to rise on Friday as governments push forward with plans to ease restrictions.

Most countries in the region have loosened measures implemented in June to curb the virus’ spread.

The move has drawn contrasting public reactions, being lauded by people who view curfews and restrictions as human rights violations, and opposed by others who believe governments have presented false information to keep economies running.

Serbia’s COVID-19 caseload remains the highest in the region, rising to 27,332 with 299 more infections over the past 24 hours.

Seven more fatalities took the country’s death toll to 621, while recoveries stand at 22,299.

Serbia, a country of over 7 million people, registered its highest daily case figure of 467 less than two weeks ago.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has recorded 13,396 cases so far, including 384 deaths and 7,042 recoveries.

The highest daily tally to date in the country of about 3 million has been 343.

Infections in Montenegro, which was the last European country to report a COVID-19 case, stand at 3,480, including 60 fatalities.

Montenegro, one of Europe’s smallest countries, is preparing for parliamentary elections on Aug. 30.

On Friday, the government announced more COVID-19 safety measures for polling day, including requirements such as wearing masks, disinfecting hands, and maintaining social distancing while voting.

The country will also allow unconditional entry to people from Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Canada, and Zimbabwe from Saturday.

Over in Croatia, the total number of COVID-19 cases stands at 5,404, including 155 deaths and 4,688 recoveries.

In North Macedonia, 11,399 people have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, with 517 patients having died and 7,480 making full recoveries.

Citizens of these Balkan countries, except Croatia, are not allowed to enter EU territories, as the bloc removed them from its list of epidemiologically safe third-countries in July.

While most of these countries have allowed people to travel to neighboring states, Montenegro is yet to open its borders to Serbian citizens.

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