President Aleksandar Vucic has said that the Serbian authorities will carry out “a complete revision of every death” related to COVID-19.
“Serbia will do a complete revision of every death, of every person, to see what it looks like. The clinicians will do that,” Vucic said on Thursday, visiting the construction site of new COVID-19 hospital in Belgrade, N1 Television reported.
However, Vucic added that he did not think the revision would uncover big differences in numbers. He said that the authorities had not hidden anything from the public so far, and would work just as transparently in future as well.
His statement came after a member of the Serbian Government’s Crisis Staff, Predrag Kon, admitted that the number of deaths by June officially announced by the government as related to COVID-19 was three times less than the real number.
Kon blamed the faulty new informational system for the error, saying it had been used for the first time.
“We were using an information system for the first time. That information system at one point, at one time, was not precise enough and I cannot say why, so, somewhere from mid-June, it was not accurate,” Kon told a TV station on Tuesday.
“Deaths cannot be accurately reported unless a certain period has elapsed. The data entered in the death certificate is only returned after two months… I processed the data by June. By June, in short, there were three times more deaths not only than what was officially announced but also what was reported,” he added.
Back in June, Serbian officials dismissed a BIRN report which said that from March 19 to June 1, a total of 632 people had died in Serbia after testing positive for the coronavirus – more than twice the officially announced number of 244 deaths in that period.
By analysing data obtained from the state’s own COVID-19 information system, BIRN also reported that the number of people who had become infected in Serbia from June 17 to June 20 was at least 300 per day, which was far more than the officially announced figure. They recorded a maximum of 97 new cases in a single day during that period.
At that point, officials from Batut Institute, which manages the COVID-19 information system, declined to respond to the BIRN reports, while top officials, including President Vucic, dismissed BIRN’s revelations.