BELGRADE — Hundreds of people have gathered in central Belgrade to pay their respects to Serbia’s doctors and nurses killed by COVID-19 and to demand more to be done to protect health-care workers who are at the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Colleagues and families of the deceased medics placed flowers and lit candles at the entrance to the government building on February 15, and read the names of 105 doctors and a number of other health professionals who have died from the coronavirus.
Participants also made several demands of the Serbian government, asking for national pensions for the families of deceased health workers and better working conditions for those fighting COVID-19.
The event was organized by the Union of Doctors and Pharmacists.
More than 4,000 deaths from COVID-19 have been confirmed in Serbia since the beginning of the pandemic.
Doctor Dejan Zujovic, a pulmonologist who has worked in COVID-19 red zones in Belgrade, said poor protective equipment and long working hours were the main reasons for the high death toll among doctors in Serbia.
“People do not go on holidays, they are exhausted and their immunity suffers,” he said.
Media have reported that only one doctor died from COVID-19 in neighboring Croatia, 24 in Albania, and 23 in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Serbian government officials have said they would investigate the deaths of medical workers in the country, but critics say little has been done so far.
With reporting by Reuters
This post was originally published on Radio Free.