NIS, Serbia, March 3 - Serbia is struggling tocontain a wave of new coronavirus cases triggered by moreinfectious strains and health experts have urged the governmentto impose another lockdown despite the country's massive vaccinerollout. Some 4,056 people tested positive since Tuesday, the healthministry said, more than double the daily number of infectionsseen a few weeks ago. In a regional hospital in Serbia's southern city of Nis,doctors and nurses clad in protective suits struggled to helpnew patients, some in serious condition. "The situation is escalating into a major problem," saidRadmilo Jankovic, a doctor and the hospital's acting generalmanager. "We are almost full, we will have to free more space," headded. Milorad Jerkan, the director of the public health centre inNis said new, more contagious virus strains were behind the risein cases but also people failing to adhere to basic healthmeasures. "Take a stroll ... and you will see packed cafes, youngpeople without face masks," said Jerkan who himself recoveredfrom COVID-19 but lost his sister to the disease. The government is weighing between the need to keep theeconomy going and the need to contain the disease. It shortenedthe opening hours of cafes, restaurant and clubs, while shoppingmalls, food stores and markets and other businesses remain open. In Serbia, which has a population of 7 million, 4,491 peoplehave died and 470,941 have contracted the virus. In the past weeks, a number of clubs and cafes in Serbiaheld illegal parties and concerts with hundreds inside. Somehave since been raided and shut down by the government. Mass vaccinations may also have encouraged some people torelax prematurely, Jankovic said, noting it takes time forpeople to build up immunity. Serbia is currently in fifth place globally for the numberof vaccines administered per 100 people, behind Israel, theUnited Arab Emirates, Britain and United States. Around 1.5 million people or 21% of Serbia's population havereceived at least one shot so far. REUTERS
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