North Macedonia

Worrying spikes in Balkans - and other European headlines

Serbs queuing outside a clinic in Belgrade, 24 Jun 20
Serbs queuing outside a clinic in Belgrade

Fears of a second wave are very real in the Balkans, as infection rates have risen this month in Serbia and North Macedonia. They had been brought down throughout May, through strict controls.

  • In the Serbian capital Belgrade the wearing of masks is now compulsory on public transport and in shopping malls, gyms and other sports facilities. Official data showed 242 new Covid-19 cases on Monday - part of a rising trend. The rate in May was about 50 daily
  • North Macedonia reported its highest death toll from Covid-19 in a single day on Monday - 12 - and 132 new cases. According to available data, the country has Europe’s second-worst infection rate after Sweden, and is followed by Serbia
  • Shortly, the EU is expected to confirm a list of 14 non-EU countries whose citizens are deemed "safe" to enter the bloc. Balkan neighbours Serbia and Montenegro are on the list, diplomats say, but the US, Brazil, China and Russia are not. Among those on the list - to be regularly updated - are: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, South Korea
  • Switzerland is debating whether to make mask-wearing compulsory on public transport. The national health authority has called for masks, wherever 1.5m social distancing is impossible. President Simonetta Sommaruga tweeted her support for masks, wearing one on a tram.
President Sommaruga on a Swiss tram, 29 Jun 20
President Sommaruga on a Swiss tram

Halfway point

Neil Smith

Entertainment reporter at the Eurovision Song Contest

Tamara Todevska of North Macedonia

With half the jury votes in, North Macedonia have built up a narrow - and, let's be honest, surprising - lead.

No wonder Tamara Todevska is "nearly having a heart attack right now" - along with most of her country, no doubt.

Sweden are second, while Azerbaijan are currently third.

There hasn't been much love for the United Kingdom, who are languishing near the bottom of the leader board.