Even as half a dozen of his top party officials have gone into quarantine after contracting or being exposed to the coronavirus, SDSM party leader Zoran Zaev insisted today that the elections will take place on July 5. Zaev is hoping that the extremely low turnout of the “corona elections’ will help his party, and is plowing ahead regardless of the fact that Macedonia is having the worst death and infection rates of the entire epidemic.

Elections would take place 22 days after the state of emergency is lifted. President Stevo Pendarovski currently extended the state of emergency for the sake of the economic measures. The dat for elections is July 5, Zaev insisted today, a day after his deputy Muhamed Zekiri revealed he and his family have the coronavirus.

Zekiri exposed a number of other SDSM officials – tax authority chief Sanja Lukarevska asid that she also has the virus, and two Govenment members – Damjan Mancevski and Mila Carovska, announced they are going into self-isolation as a precautionary measure. The new spike in cases, with five deaths reported on Sunday and six on Monday (according to media reports) are largely due to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, during which the restrictions were habitually ignored in the Muslim majority parts of the country.

Zaev confirmed that Zekiri, who was insisting that it is the obligation of the police to break up the iftar dinners during Ramadan, despite the imminent threat of violence this would carry, was infected while going to an iftar dinner with his brother. “We were not careful enough”, Zaev said today.

Not only were they infecting themselves, but SDSM officials were also actively campaigning over the past days. Alone among the main parties, SDSM insisted in holding meetings with citizens across the country, running a pre-election campaign even as the other parties insist that safety and public health comes first and warn that getting hundreds of thousands of people of vote and tens of thousands of public administration workers to organize the elections will lead to a major new spike in the epidemic.