Alemka Markotic Announces Penalties for Not Wearing Masks

Alemka Markotic, the director of the ''Dr. Fran Mihaljević'' Clinic for Infectious Diseases in Zagreb has discussed coronavirus' behaviour, what might happen in autumn, and penalties for not wearing masks when using public transport.

''It's relatively simple. As long as we kept to the measure the situation was excellent. But it's human nature to relax things as soon as it seems that the danger has ceased. And as soon as people relax, the virus finds its place to survive. It needs a denser population and closer contact to survive,'' Alemka Markotic, who has become a household name since the pandemic began in Croatia, warned.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 25th of June, 2020, she warned that with the easing of the formerly stringent anti-epidemic measures and the good epidemiological situation, stories about fabrications were given more space, regardless of the fact that hundreds of thousands of sick people and deaths from the new coronavirus were and continue to be seen across the world. All this, she believes, gave us a false sense of security and an excuse to relax.

All those who were in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Northern Macedonia and Kosovo will have to go into self-isolation when arriving in Croatia. Masks have now been introduced as mandatory when using public transport.

''These are places where the virus is more easily transmitted. We had an excellent situation, now the situation is deteriorating both in our country and in the world - new measures had to be adopted,'' she added.

''We noticed that most of the imported cases of infection were from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and if it is noticed that the import of diseases from some European countries increases, then restrictions will be introduced for them as well,'' Alemka Markotic announced.

"The situation is better, although there will be more new cases"

Speaking about the tourist season and the hundreds of guests who are currently spending their summers in Croatia, she said that the current situation is better than it was before, although there will be more new patients.

"People are outdoors and are at a greater distance. We call this virus the ''family virus'' because it spreads mostly indoors. With social distancing, disinfection and wearing masks where they should be worn - we can deal with the virus,'' she assured.

Speaking about allegations that the virus is weakening, she said that it is not a matter of our immunity.

''Where they tried to create the herd immunity of the population, it failed. There are indications that the virus has undergone some changes, but this needs to be monitored for some time. We cannot specifically say that it has mutated. It's a concentration of the virus - indoors it is high and the strength and ability of the virus to penetrate the body is stronger. The virus settles in the mucous membrane of the nose or throat and needs a higher concentration to break into those cells,'' explained Alemka Markotic.

"We're looking at autumn with great caution"

''We saw that some people had a positive finding of the virus in their nose for sixty days, without it being able to penetrate the body and cause symptoms. When we did the serological tests there were no antibodies and those people were actually not protected. We'll also need to examine how equal the amount of the virus we find in the nose is to the transmission of the virus to other people. In this context, the situation is better when we're outdoors, but we're looking at autumn with great caution. The virus will certainly not go away by then, and there will be other viruses, which is a great challenge for experts,'' she warned.

The new coronavirus is much more virulent than SARS

She added that everyone hopes that the virus will gradually end up like SARS did, although coronavirus isn't really behaving like that. SARS took the world by storm, there were about 8,000 cases and then it simply disappeared. The new coronavirus has already infected eight to nine million people and is much more virulent.

''At this point, nearly 90 percent of people who contract the disease will experience only milder symptoms. The problem is when the virus enters sensitive places such as hospitals and nursing homes,'' Markotic said.

Will there be sanctions for those who do not wear masks on public transport?

''As soon as something is a provision, then certain penalties will have to be applied. However, we're talking all the time about why people should be punished in order to do something that is for their own good. It's easier to take, sew a mask or buy a mask for 5, 10 or 20 kuna than to it is pay a fine of 500 or 1000 kuna. It's safer to be responsible,'' concluded Alemka Markotic.

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