Saturday, 12 March 2022

Colorectal Cancer First in Terms of New Cases Diagnosed Annually

ZAGREB, 12 March 2022 - Colorectal cancer is first in Croatia in terms of cases diagnosed every year and only 20% to 30% of citizens respond to calls for screenings, it was said on Saturday at an event marking Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

"We have about 3,600 new cases annually and about 10% of people daily get this disease," said Krunoslav Capak, director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ).

This is the most frequent cancer in Croatia at the moment and we should all fight against it together through prevention and a healthier lifestyle, he added.

This year Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is being marked for the first time under a decision of the Croatian parliament in order to highlight the importance of screenings.

In 2007, Croatia introduced a programme for colorectal cancer screening for adults aged between 50 and 74, and according to relevant statistics, residents in coastal areas seem least ready to undergo this test.

In Croatia, six people die of this disease daily on average and between 2,000 and 2,100 annually. 

The HZJZ said recently that in the coastal counties, except Zadar County, the turnout for the colorectal cancer screening is under the Croatian average.

Regular screening reduces the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

The mortality rate can be reduced provided that those aged between 50 and 74 undergo regular tests and follow doctors' orders.

The HZJZ said that this would be conducive to efforts to save 1,000-1,500 patients annually.


Saturday, 12 March 2022

Capak: Relaxation of COVID Restrictions Still Being Considered

ZAGREB, 12 March 2022 - Croatian Public Health Institute director Krunoslav Capak said on Saturday that the possible relaxation of coronavirus restrictions, announced for next week, was still being carefully considered given a slight increase in new cases in recent days.

"Since we have had a slight increase in infections, I cannot say if there will be a further relaxation of measures," Capak told reporters in Zagreb during a public health campaign marking Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

Even though some media outlets have announced that the restrictions on hospitality establishments will be eased and that nightclubs will be allowed to stay open until 2 am, Capak did not confirm this.

"A possible relaxation is still being considered, and what is certain is that COVID passes will remain mandatory for healthcare and social welfare services," he said.

The slight increase in new cases will be taken into account in deciding on the relaxation of restrictions, and Capak said that Croatia was not an isolated case in this regard as most European countries were in a similar situation.

One of the reasons is the more infectious BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is becoming dominant in western Europe, people thinking that the epidemic is over, resumption of school classes, and cold weather, as a result of which people spend more time indoors.

Capak noted that the slight increase in new infections did not mean the beginning of a new wave of the epidemic and that it was yet to be seen what would happen in the coming days.

"The increase in new infections is a warning that the epidemic is not over and that we should comply with the epidemiological measures which are still in force," Capak said, adding that the turnout for vaccination was not satisfactory.

"People have given up, they are still postponing vaccination thinking that the epidemic is over. There are enough vaccines and vaccination should continue because it is a very powerful weapon," Capak said, calling on people to observe hygiene rules, wear face masks, maintain a physical distance and air out their rooms.

Friday, 29 October 2021

Family Doctors Will Contact Persons over 65 about Getting Vaccinated

ZAGREB, 29 Oct 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Friday a decision was made under which family doctors would contact their patients over 65 in the next fortnight about getting vaccinated because 31.3% of people in that age group have not been vaccinated against COVID.

The most vulnerable persons, those over 65, are the priority in protection from COVID, he said at a press conference of the national COVID-19 crisis management team, adding that 40% of those over 80 have not been vaccinated either.

If doctors fail to contact their patients over 65 in the next fortnight, they should visit them at home, or have a district nurse do so, in the next 30 days, and then report to the ministry about what they have achieved. Those infirm should be vaccinated at home.

Beroš appealed to the elderly to get vaccinated. "Vaccination saves lives and it is our obligation to enable it."

He said 97 of the 177 persons over 65 who died of COVID this past week had not been vaccinated.

However, he said, interest in vaccination is growing and almost 6,000 of the 13,292 vaccinated yesterday received their first shot, the highest number since late July. Week on week it was an increase of 34.5%, and of 51.8% when compared with two weeks ago.

Croatian Institute of Public Health director Krunoslav Capak said there were 48.8% more new cases today than a week ago.

In the past 24 hours, 26 of the 32 COVID patients who ended up on ventilators and 20 of the 26 who died were not vaccinated.

The head of Zagreb's infectious diseases hospital, Alemka Markotić, told women who planned to get pregnant to get vaccinated or to do so after giving birth.

COVID certificates can't replace vaccination

Asked why COVID certificates were not required more widely, the head of the crisis management team, Interior Minister Davor Božinović, said the certificates offered a certain security but could not be a replacement for vaccination, adding that only vaccination could result in the pandemic abating.

"We are trying to do our best to have people vaccinated. We are thinking more and more about not limiting COVID certificates only to those vaccinated. We will also look at when they were vaccinated."

No one is considering another lockdown, but citizens must understand that this is a situation we will not get rid off anytime soon, Božinović said.

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Monday, 21 December 2020

Capak: First Batch of Pfizer Vaccine to Consist of 9,750 Doses

ZAGREB, Dec 21, 2020 - The first batch of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine will be delivered to Croatia on December 26, and the 9,750 doses will be distributed among the counties taking into account the size of their population, Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) director Krunoslav Capak said on Monday.

"A total of 9,750 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be sent to Croatia on December 26. We will try to vaccinate as many people as possible with this symbolic dose," Capak told a press conference of the national COVID-19 response team.

This symbolic first batch will not be enough to vaccinate the whole first priority group of people in Croatia. "The vaccine will primarily be administered to care home residents, some of the emergency medical workers and some of the health workers in COVID centres," Capak said.

Capak noted that Pfizer had pledged to deliver additional supplies on December 31 which would be used to vaccinate the whole first priority group. He said that discussions were under way on the vaccination of the second priority group, including people suffering from chronic diseases and those older than 65 years.

Capak pointed out that 27% fewer new coronavirus infections had been recorded in the week from December 15 to 21 than in the previous week.

Croatia has the third highest 14-day COVID-19 incidence rate and the ninth highest mortality rate in the European Union.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Krunoslav Capak Comments on Herd Immunity in Croatia, When We Can Expect It

September 23, 2020 - The director of the Croatian National Institue of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, was a guest on Dnevnik Nova TV, where he spoke about when there would be herd immunity in Croatia, but also how many people have come into contact with COVID-19 in the country so far.

He says about 400,000 people have been in contact with the coronavirus

Capak said that serology tests during the spring showed that the number of those who came in contact with the coronavirus was 25 to 30 times higher than the number of those infected, i.e., those whose PCR test confirmed they were infected with the coronavirus. "About 400,000 people in Croatia have probably come into contact with the coronavirus," he said, adding that serology tests would be repeated.

Herd immunity only in the middle of next year

He added that herd immunity in Croatia could be achieved only in the middle of next year, i.e., when more than 50 percent of the population comes into contact with the coronavirus.

The sensitivity of PCR tests

He commented on the sensitivity of tests that detect coronavirus even in those cases where the virus is present in a very small amount, and the person is not contagious.

Capak says that the amount needed to detect the virus in infected people has been intensively researched lately.

"The problem is that it can be different with different PCR methods. Also, it significantly depends on the method and quality of sampling," he explained.

He also assessed that the situation in schools is good so far. "If we manage to maintain this pace of teaching, everything will be fine by the end of the school year," he concluded.

What does it mean when a person dies of COVID-19 but had numerous comorbidities?

He also explained what it means if a person died from COVID-19 but had numerous comorbidities.

"Certainly, the severity and length of the virus have an impact on the occurrence of those most severe forms of the virus. It can also be hypertension, which is a disease in itself, but is a factor in developing cardiovascular diseases. It doesn’t have to be some serious illness, but it is comorbidity. The duration of the illness certainly has an impact on the clinical picture, and even the outcome of the illness itself," he told

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Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Epidemiologist Capak: Children Will Go To School!

ZAGREB, Aug 10, 2020 - Children will go to school, Croatian Publich Health Institute head Krunoslav Capak said on Monday, underscoring that the current epidemiological situation with a smaller number of infections indicates that children should normally start attending classes.

"Children will go to school. We have a good epidemiological situation, our case numbers are low with a declining trend and now children should, could and must go to school," Capak said for RTL Danas newscast.

He said that the national coronavirus response team had held a meeting with the Education Ministry, which had formed an advisory task force which includes members of the coronavirus response team, epidemiologists and the ministry's experts, who will decide on those matters.

He expects that the advisory task force would have its first meeting next week and start making decisions on the beginning of the school year.

No confirmation of Czech or German reports about their citizens' becoming infected in Croatia

As for reports by some countries, such as the Czech Republic and Germany, that their citizens became infected on holiday in Croatia, he said that local epidemiologists had checked the information they had read in the papers but had not, he underscored, received confirmation "that that really is the case."

He noted that the EU had an early warning and response system for communicable diseases, which can be used to notify the country where someone became infected.

In that case, Capak said, Croatian epidemiologists need to investigate where those people were, whether they contracted the disease there, if measures should be adopted in the facility where they were etc.

We have received official reports of several cases of infection in tourists

"We only react to official reports, not to what is read in the papers or on portals. For us that is not an official report," he said, adding that they had received official reports for some countries with "several reported cases".

Cruise ships should be allowed to dock in Dubrovnik

Capak said cruise boats, when they request it, should be allowed to dock in Dubrovnik, underscoring that the coronavirus response team had carefully analysed measures by two Italian cruise ships cruising the Mediterranean.

"The measures they introduced always look good on paper and they are really good, so we think that if they really are complying with them, it is possible and they should be allowed to dock," he said.

The team, he added, are still in a little dilemma over what would happen if there is an infected person on the ship, in which direction the person would be evacuated, whether they would return to their home country, to Italy or request that from us, "which I think should not be an option".

Monday, 10 August 2020

Capak Says Epidemiological Situation Favourable Despite Large Number of Tourists

ZAGREB, Aug 10, 2020 - The head of the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ), Krunoslav Capak, has said that the epidemiological situation in the country is favourable despite a large number of tourists vacationing in Croatia.

"It is unrealistic to expect that there will be no infected tourists but the figures are excellent considering the fact that currently there are close to 900,000 guests in the country," Capak said in an interview with the N1 broadcaster on Monday.

Commenting on foreign media reports about some tourists becoming infected while holidaying in Croatia, he said that Croatia was part of the Early Warning and Response System through which member-countries communicated about such cases.

He stressed that Croatia was aware of the cases of which it had been officially notified.

"We have received several reports from the health authorities of Germany, Italy, Austria, and Slovenia about tourists having contracted the disease here," he said, stressing that the biggest problem currently were night clubs.

Capak also said that the national COVID-19 response team would most probably grant Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic's request for amending the regulation on the docking of cruise ships in the Dubrovnik port, which now bans the arrival of cruise vessels with more than 200 passengers, because of the Italian MSC company which wants to bring tourists to Dubrovnik.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Capak: If Divjak Is Positive, Gov't Members Won't Have to Self-Isolate

ZAGREB, July 14, 2020 - Croatian Institute of Public Health director Krunoslav Capak said on Tuesday that if Education Minister Blazenka Divjak tested positive for coronavirus, the other government members would not have to self-isolate because they all wore masks at a meeting on Monday.

All Science and Education Ministry staff, including Divjak, were instructed by epidemiologists today to self-isolate and get tested because the ministry's state secretary Ivana Franic tested positive.

Yesterday Divjak and all ministers attended a meeting of the national council for the introduction of the euro chaired by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.

"Divjak herself and other staff must self-isolate. Some have already been tested and the results will be known by evening," Capak said at a press conference of the national COVID-19 response team.

Asked if Franic had attended a wedding and breached self-isolation,, he said, "I know there was a big gathering, but I don't know if it was a wedding... I can't answer if their self-isolation was breached."

No increase in infections after the election

Capak said there had been no increase in coronavirus cases after the July 5 parliamentary election.

Capak: If Czech tourists have been infected here, we'll communicate that 

He said it had not been confirmed that the Czech tourists who claimed they were infected in Croatia were indeed infected here. If they were, we'll communicate that, he added.

Capak said a Serbian citizen was repatriated and that he was tested in Pula the day he arrived, and that a family who arrived from Sweden were infected in Sweden and were self-isolating in Pula.

He said an infected Macedonian family was in Zadar County and would stay there until they recovered, and that a positive British citizen was in Split but that it was not known where or when he was infected.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

SDP Tells Capak Not To Engage In Politics

ZAGREB, June 27, 2020 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) secretary-general Niksa Vukas said on Saturday that Public Health Institute director Krunoslav Capak (HDZ), a member of the national COVID-19 crisis management team, should deal with his profession, not politics.

Vukas was responding to Capak's statement earlier today that by deciding to self-isolate, the SDP's Rajko Ostojic was insulting epidemiologists.

He told reporters the crisis management team was not doing its job but campaigning for the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union). "Three months ago, every contact went into self-isolation, now a person who has been in contact with an infected person and self-isolates of their own accord is an enemy."

The president of the SDP's health council, Danko Vrdoljak, said the current spike in infections was the result of the crisis management team's incomprehensible recommendations because people did not know how to behave.

The SDP's public health coordinator, Sasa Srica, again called on Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic to self-isolate because he was in close contact with an infected person.

He said the crisis management team should realise that the HDZ's election rallies were pandemic hotspots as they drew many people who did not keep a distance.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Capak Says Ostojic Belittling Epidemiologists By Self-Isolating On His Own

ZAGREB, June 27, 2020 - Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) head Krunoslav Capak has said that people infected with coronavirus are now observed to have milder symptoms, which is still not proof that the virus has grown weaker, and that by self-isolating SDP official Rajko Ostojic has shown disrespect for epidemiologists.

"We have been observing somewhat milder clinical presentations," Capak told the N1 broadcaster on Saturday, adding that he had heard from epidemiologists in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Slovenia that people infected with the virus in those countries now had mild symptoms and that many did not have any.

He noted, however, that it was still too early to say that the virus had grown weaker before the research was done on a larger number of people.

The average patient now is on average 20 years younger than the average patient in March, which is mostly due to the fact that younger people have travelled to neighbouring countries and a large number of infections have been contracted in night clubs, he said.

Epidemiologists should decide if someone is at risk of catching the disease

Commenting on Social Democratic Party (SDP) vice-president Rajko Ostojic going into self-isolation on his own following contact with a party colleague who has tested positive for COVID-19, Capak said that with his actions and statements for the media Ostojic was humiliating epidemiologists.

"Ostojic is a gastroenterologist, we do not interfere in his diagnostics and treatment options, so he, too, should stay out of epidemiologists' work," he said.

Capak recalled that epidemiologists had assessed that Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic did not have to self-isolate after a brief encounter of fewer than three minutes and without close contact with Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, at a tournament in Zadar last weekend.

Capak also said that there was no need for Plenkovic to get tested again as he had not been in close contact with Djokovic.

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