Milanović: No Mistake Made in Dealing with Coronavirus

By 13 March 2020

ZAGREB, March 13, 2020 - President Zoran Milanović said on Friday he was refraining from commenting on coronavirus because he felt that his interventions would cause confusion and he was confident the government had not made one mistake about it so far.

Speaking to reporters, the president said he still felt it was his duty to say something. He said he was talking with the prime minister and the head of the national civil protection authority and that he was being briefed about everything.

He said coronavirus was also a political issue and one on which even experts did not see eye to eye. "The approach to solving with this problem and dealing with this challenge isn't the same in every state, independently of their economic development, tradition, culture, the epidemiology of the public health sector."

The president said he feared it might never be known what happened in northern Italy, where the first oversight was made, and that this would make analyses harder. "When we see what happened in such a developed and wealthy state, then we see that luck plays a very important part, as do permanent action and analysis."

Asked if he thought kindergartens, schools and faculties should have been closed earlier, the president said he supported it and that it was good that a decision to that effect was made now.

"You have no one to clearly look up to. You must take responsibility. It depends from state to state. This is the Croatian approach. It's in force as of yesterday and I believe it has its logic. We don't know many things."

The president underlined the importance of people keeping 1.5 m apart, as recommended by the Croatian Institute of Public Health. "People will have to, especially in the next two weeks, withdraw into their nucleus a little, into the family, go out less. This can't be fully stopped, but we'll have to socialise and communicate less. That's the reality."

He also commented on empty shelves in supermarkets across the country due to mass shopping. "If (people) don't do it, they will have to leave the house more often, so it's good that they buy as much as they can in a couple of days. That's not panic," he said, adding that "we must create conditions for a life indoors, isolated... with all its limitations. Unfortunately, that's the way it is."

The president said he was confident there was no danger of a greater panic but that one could read and hear all sorts of things in the media "and people are easily influenced."

He hopes that in Croatia the epidemic will peak in the next two weeks and then start decreasing. He said the situation in Croatia was different than in other countries and that for now he supported the closure of schools.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.