A month following the declaration of Montenegro as coronavirus or COVID-19 free, the nation reintroduced the restrictions late on Thursday, including a ban on sporting events and also outdoor political rallies, to try curb and contain a rise in new cases.

Neighboring Serbia that is much larger than Montenegro, mentioned on Friday, it will again dedicate some general hospitals for treating only coronavirus patients following a rise in the infections there in recent days.

The moves follow Croatia's announcement on Wednesday that it would reintroduce a 14-day quarantine for visitors from four other Balkan countries including Serbia due to the regional resurgence in COVID-19 cases. Montenegro, a tiny Adriatic nation of just 620,000 people and heavily reliant on tourism, had declared itself coronavirus-free but has reported about 100 new cases in the past 10 days, bringing the total to 424, with nine deaths.

Montenegro Reimposes Coronavirus Restrictions

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Its national body tasked with combating COVID-19 said it had banned religious gatherings outside places of worship, though indoor church services are still allowed. "Funerals will be performed exclusively within family circles," it added. Authorities have also imposed a night-time curfew from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m in two municipalities in northern Montenegro hardest hit by COVID-19.

Serbian authorities said they were reactivating some hospitals that had been adapted to treat COVID-19 patients in the early phase of the outbreak this spring. Ivana Milosevic, deputy head of the Clinic for Tropical and Infectious Diseases in Belgrade, said "there's not a spare bed" in its COVID-19 ward. "As soon as one patient is discharged, another moves in... They are mainly young people and some are in intensive care," she told state-run RTS TV on Friday.

Serbia which has a population of 7.2 million, recorded 137 new infections on Thursday, bringing its total confirmed cases to 13,372, with 264 deaths.

(With agency inputs)