Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Will Traveling During the Coronavirus Pandemic to Croatia be Problematic? Plan B in Place

April 14, 2021 - With the season approaching, the question on everyone's mind is will traveling during the coronavirus pandemic to Croatia bring problems for tourism in the country?' A light at the end of the tunnel still might be possible.

While many high-reputation magazines regularly praise Croatia as a top destination, this summer, the season will be only as strong as the health situation regarding coronavirus – both in Croatia and abroad, from where the country welcomes as many tourists as possible. Sadly, as Croatian National Radiotelevision (HRT) reports, due to the bad pandemic situation, many European countries, including Croatia, are canceling the travel season.

While, as we reported on TCN, many flights are returning and coming to Croatia, the measures are possibly demotivating travelers.

HRT says Croatia is declared as a highly-risked country in Germany, and returning citizens need to show a negative test that is no older than 48 hours which is a change to previous arrangments when Germans could test after returning home.

„The English planned to allow traveling from May 17 but tour operators and others don't have a big number of reservations to make it profitable so everything is postponed until June 24“, said hotelier  Domagoj Tomasović to HRT. 

British tourists were indeed expected mid-May, but as Darija Reić, director of the Croatian Tourist Board in London, said on the "Good Morning Croatia show" on HRT, there are still fines for non-essential travel.

„Travelling outside of UK is still illegal if you don't travel for essential reasons which include traveling for business, education or medicinal purposes. Otherwise, it's possible to be fined 5000 pounds“, explained Reić, as noted by Turizmoteka.

Tonči Glavina, state secretary for Tourism ministry, said for HRT that the UK is not alone in sending a message to its citizens to not travel anywhere and went on to say that may not be bad for Croatia.



While the UK stands better in the percentage of vaccinated people than Croatia, Croatians are focusing on reaching the green zone by the end of May. Seventy thousand vaccinated workers in the tourist sector are the goal for the country.

„If that doesn't happen until the start of the season, then we need tests and it would be good if tourist board make testing zones and if we co-finance the expenses of testing to our guests“, concluded Tomasović.

The Ministry of Tourism already secured 20 million kuna to co-finance testing for tourists if Croatia doesn't reach the green zone.

PCR tests currently cost 500 kuna; quick antigen test is 150 kuna, and the translations of the results to English is 125 kuna. Twenty tourists were already tested in Zagreb on Tuesday. 

Learn more about coronavirus: news and travel in Croatia on our TC page.

For more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

20 Tourists in Zagreb Tested For COVID-19

ZAGREB, 13 April, 2021 - Foreign tourists who generate at least one bed night in Zagreb can be tested for COVID-19 at 50% of the price and about 20 have already been tested over the weekend, the director of the Zagreb Tourist Board (TZGZ), Martina Bienenfeld, said on Tuesday.

TZGZ is the first regional tourist board in Croatia that has opened a testing station for foreign tourists as had previously been proposed by Tourism and Sports Minister Nikolina Brnjac.

Testing to be co-financed

In addition to opening the testing station, TZGZ has decided to cofinance testing that is conducted during weekends and public holidays, Bienenfeld told Hina.

TZGZ will cover half the cost of testing for tourists, she said, estimating that the greatest demand will be in the coming period and that that will depend on the percentage of inoculated tourists from the countries they are coming from, but also of employees in tourism and citizens themselves, and finally on the introduction of Digital Green Certificates at the EU level.

Testing during weekdays will be at the normal price and already about ten Zagreb hotels are providing testing services. Testing can also be conducted at Zagreb's airport.

Providing opportunity for tourists to extend their stay

"One of the important reasons why we decided to co-finance testing in the days noted is that this provides the opportunity for tourists to extend their stay in Zagreb, because they do not have to worry where and when they can be tested when returning to their countries and they can avoid quarantine," said Bienefeld.

All the necessary information regarding testing is available at in various languages, she said and added that the first tourists tested this way last weekend (10 and 11 April) were from Italy, Denmark, Germany and Albania.

Bienefeld said that since the beginning of the year until 11 April, almost 65,000 tourists had visited Zagreb and they generated 177,500 bed nights, which is about 47% of arrivals and 58% of bed nights generated in the comparable period in 2020.

Compared to the record 2019 year, that is about 27% and 37% of arrivals and bed nights respectively. 

For more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.


Wednesday, 9 December 2020

17,850 Rapid Antigen Tests Provided for Zagreb Social Welfare Institutions

ZAGREB, Dec 9, 2020 - The City of Zagreb has obtained 17,850 rapid antigen tests for its 60 social welfare institutions, the head of the Zagreb department for social policy, Romana Galic, said on Tuesday.

Of those 60 institutions, 41 are old age homes, and the remaining 19 are institutions for providing care to people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups of citizens, Galic said.

She explained that this had been the first batch of the rapid coronavirus tests which should be used in a period of one month, and the Zagreb authorities hope that they will be provided with additional quantities of those tests.

Testing of staff working in retirement homes and beneficiaries is a manner to prevent the spread of this virus in those institutions, she added.

Currently, there are 196 beneficiaries from 11 old-care homes in Zagreb who are positive for coronavirus. Of them, 22 are receiving hospital treatment, about 50 beneficiaries, who have contracted the virus, are without symptoms and others are with mild symptoms of the COVID-19 disease.

Also, currently, 75 employees from Zagreb's old-age homes are positive for the virus, and an additional 38 are self-isolating.

Galic said that about 75% of beneficiaries in Zagreb's social welfare institutions have said that they are willing to undergo testing, while 36% of the staff have expressed readiness. Also, a marked portion of the staff have recovered from the infection, she said.

Friday, 30 October 2020

Croatia Bringing in Speedy Coronavirus Tests, Results in 30 Minutes

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 29th of October, 2020, given the news of long queues which have become somewhat synonymous with coronavirus tests, it has become more and more desirable to have some alternative to standard laboratory PCR tests. About a month ago, news surfaced about the availability of antigen tests. Such coronavirus tests are fast, the result is obtained in half an hour, it isn't too expensive, with a price of 250 kuna, and they're offered by different manufacturers, according to Vecernji list.

''Yes, they're definitely be recommended. But they must be antigenic, not serological. Although they have a slightly lower sensitivity than PCR tests, they can be done outside of a laboratory, for example in a nursing home, school, anywhere, they're cheaper so many more people can be tested,'' said prof. dr. sc. Branko Kolaric, an epidemiologist and member of the Scientific Council of the Croatian Government. The usefulness of such coronavirus tests has been confirmed by well known Croatian molecular biologist prof. dr. sc. Nenad Ban at ETH in Zurich, Switzerland.

''The test can be used to detect the presence of a viral protein that surrounds the SARS-CoV-2 genome when in our body. It's relatively fast and specific, so it won't detect proteins that exist in other related viruses. Given the sensitivity claims of about 95 percent, it means that it is possible that every twentieth test doesn't detect the presence of the protein despite its existence. This test is significantly different from previous coronavirus tests that detected the presence of antibodies to the virus because antibodies begin to develop much later than when a person becomes ill, so, the antibody test couldn't be used to determine if someone is contagious or not,'' explained the scientist.

Viruses are very small, SARS-CoV-2 is about 100 nm, and consequently they have very little antigen, as was learned from doc. Dr. Vanda Juranic-Lisnic from the Faculty of Medicine in Rijeka.

''There must be enough of the virus to be visible to the antigen test, and usually when a patient has a lot of virus, he has symptoms. Unlike tbe PCR test, previous antigen tests have much lower sensitivity. Clearly, given the efforts of the scientific and medical community, we're sure to get increasingly sensitive antigen tests. Based on past experiences, it may be found that antigen tests are well applied in the rapid testing of symptomatic patients to quickly determine whether they've contracted COVID-19 or some other type of respiratory infection. However, it should be borne in mind that the negative result of the antigen test must be additionally confirmed by a PCR test precisely because they're less sensitive,'' stated Dr. Juranic-Lisnic.

Prof. dr. sc. Zlatko Trobonjaca from the Medical Faculty in Rijeka explained how such a test works.

''These tests are based on the colour change of the reactants in the presence of an antigen that is recognised and captured by specific antibodies. This antigen in the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is a nucleocapsid protein, so its presence and detection also indicates the infection of the subject. The problem with these tests is the fact that the antigen concentration may be too low to detect and therefore they're recommended only in the stages of the disease in which we expect higher levels of the virus on swabs and thus higher amounts of antigen. And that means in the first few days of the disease (up to 7 days), in cases with too little concentration of antigen, we can expect false negative findings,'' said Dr. Trobonjaca.

The American experience is certainly the most extensive, so prof. dr. sc. Maria Skugor of the Cleveland Clinic was asked about these types of coronavirus tests.

''They're very fast and easier to use, but they're not that sensitive yet and a negative result doesn't actually exclude infection. The specificity is about 98 percent, but the sensitivity is, in my conservative estimate, about 60 percent. Therefore, symptomatic patients with a negative test should have an RT-PCR test,'' said Dr. Skugor.

''There's a noticeable difference in experiences when it comes to sensitivity, and the possible reason is the manufacturer. The quality of these tests depends on the quality of the manufacturer and therefore you should test the quality before buying large quantities of tests,'' said prof. dr. sc. Ivan Djikic from Goethe University in Frankfurt.

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