The last weeks of June saw a considerable spike in COVID cases in Albania, as the number of active patients reached 4,000.
Albania had a relatively slow COVID Spring and early Summer, with new cases averaging between 90 and 40 a day. Around March, the Albanian government began easing pandemic measures, lifting restrictions on large gatherings and removing all entry requirements for foreign visitors.
With tourist season in full swing, however, the trend has begun to reverse. The last weeks of June saw a dramatic increase in the number of new cases. If on June 1st, Albania recorded only 32 infections, on June 29 the number was 1,131 positive test results. On July 3rd, the country saw 539 new cases.
With 92 cases per 100,000 people, infections are on the rise. Still, these numbers represent around 17% of the highest contagion peak, which was reported on January 9 with some 4,700 cases.
Recorded deaths have remained relatively low, with about one death per day recorded in the past three days, marking a stark contrast to the beginning of the year.
Health experts attribute this spike in Covid cases to new Omicron variants gaining ground around the globe. These variants appear to be more contagious and more resistant to vaccines. Much is still unknown according to scientists, who warn it might be too early to predict how these new variants will impact the trajectory of the pandemic in the upcoming months.
In Albania, vaccination rates remain low, with the highest inoculation numbers achieved in January 2022, followed by a dramatic drop immediately after.
44% of the population being fully vaccinated and only some 324,000 (around 11%) having received a booster shot.
Since January 2021, the Albanian government has undertaken its “Albania Smiles” vaccination campaign but with mixed results. Even attempts to require vaccination for government workers and other categories has not made much of a dent in the Albanian vaccination rate.
Minister of Health Olgerta Manasterliu warned Albanians to prepare for a difficult Fall, as cases are expected to increase. A return to partial lockdown and other restrictive measures may also be on the table—last Summer, restrictions were mostly lifted for the tourist reason and reintroduced come September.