Thursday, 3 February 2022

Minister Says Self-testing of Students to Be Conducted in Three Stages

ZAGREB, 3 Feb 2022 - Science and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs said on Thursday that the self-testing of students would start once the Buffer Stock Directorate delivered tests to schools, and that testing would be conducted in three stages, after which they would hopefully no longer be necessary. 

Parents will test their children for coronavirus voluntarily on Mondays, and if a positive case is identified in a class, testing will be done again and students who test negative will continue attending face-to-face classes.

We assume parents will not cheat because the purpose of this measure is to make it possible for as many children as possible to continue attending physical classes, Fuchs said, recalling that entire classes had to go online just because a few students were positive.

The testing will be conducted for a month, and if everything is as we plan it to be, we will switch to testing only in those classes where a positive case is identified, the minister said.

The third stage is the cancellation of self-testing, he said, expressing hope that eventually it would be possible to abolish the mandatory wearing of face masks in schools.

The Buffer Stock Directorate will today open bids for the procurement of tests and the beginning of self-testing will depend on when schools are supplied with the tests, the minister said, adding that he would talk to school principals via video link today and that the Croatian Public Health Institute had prepared instructions for parents.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

MPs Divided on COVID Certificates

ZAGREB, 3 Feb 2022 - Ahead of a parliamentary debate on a government report on the effects of epidemiological measures taken to fight coronavirus between 1 September and the end of December 2021, the issue of COVID certificates divided the parliamentary majority and opposition deputies.

Opposition deputies stressed that the introduction of those certificates was the worst decision in the two years of the pandemic and that they should be abolished while the ruling HDZ insisted the certificates had to be kept.

Abolishing the certificates would leave us within our borders, and we want to be European citizens and travel, said HDZ MP Maja Grba Bujević.

Let us abolish the certificates, a discriminatory measure that we cannot afford anyway, and that has proven ineffective and costs the economy too much. Money for testing could be used in a much better way, said Bridge MP Marija Selak Raspudić.

Marijan Pavliček of the Croatian Sovereignists said that a number of contradictory and futile decisions had been made in the past two years, with the one on the introduction of certificates being the worst.

Pavliček as well as Stephen Nikola Bartulica (Homeland Movement) criticized plans to test school children.

"By introducing testing you are putting pressure on children and parents, the more so as children get infected less and have milder symptoms," Pavliček said.

SDP: We need clear leadership, clear measures

Social Democratic Party (SDP) MP Peđa Grbin expressed hope the Omicron variant was the light at the end of the tunnel.

Now that we see the light at the end of the tunnel, we need clear leadership and clear measures so that we do not make a mistake on the path on which we have often wondered, he said.

Ivana Kekin of the Green-Left Bloc said that since the end of October Croatia had lost more than 5,000 people to COVID, describing that as tragic.

We are ninth in the world in terms of the number of COVID fatalities, we have the highest death rate when it comes to deaths caused by the Omicron variant, in January we lost 1,800 people and 80% of them were not vaccinated, she said, wondering who would assume responsibility - the COVID-19 response team, the health minister or the prime minister.

Answering to opposition criticisms, HDZ MP Grba Bujević said wise and well-thought-out measures were taken.

One should not just look at the figures but at a number of other elements as well. The government and the state invested a lot of effort to procure the vaccine, which is free, the health system did not collapse even though some said it would, and free testing is available, she said.

For more, check out our politics section.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Friday, 28 January 2022

Croatia Had a Poor COVID Vaccination Campaign, Panel Says

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - Croatia's COVID-19 vaccination rate is lower than the EU average, and the vaccination campaign should have involved more health professionals and fewer footballers, a conference on the future of health care in Croatia was told in Zagreb on Friday.

Professor Stjepan Orešković from the Zagreb School of Medicine said that Croatia has nearly 3,500 COVID deaths per million, while in Finland this number is nearly ten times lower. He said that Croatia should look up to countries like that and their strategies.

"If you ask nurses why they don't want to get vaccinated, you will get some very rational answers, such as fear for a future pregnancy. At the start of the pandemic, we should have answered their questions and led the vaccination campaign through them rather than through, for example, footballers," Orešković said.

He said it was important not to take people who refuse to get vaccinated for fools because such an attitude would only diminish trust in the medical and pharmaceutical professions.

What nearly all European countries did at the start of the pandemic was close their borders, said Professor Iris Goldner Lang from the Zagreb School of Law, adding that several things should be considered when imposing restrictions.

"If we invoke health care, we should examine whether it can be achieved with less restrictive measures and ensure that such measures do not discriminate against anyone on the ground of nationality," she said.

Tomislav Sokol, a member of the European People's Party group in the European Parliament, supported the idea of joint purchases of expensive medicines. "Currently we have a situation where different member states pay different prices for the same medicines. However, we can certainly expect great opposition from the pharmaceutical industry."

Sokol said that Croatia should use all available EU funding to improve the equipment of its hospitals and create better working conditions for its doctors so that they would no longer emigrate to western countries.

Student Mateja Lisjak said that based on what she had learned from other panelists, the situation in most of the health care systems of EU member states was bad. She concurred with Professor Orešković that a solution should be sought in learning from the countries that have been more successful in containing the pandemic.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Friday, 28 January 2022

COVID-19 Team Head Says Shortening of Self-isolation Being Considered But...

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović, who heads the national COVID-19 response team, said on Friday that the team was considering shortening the period of self-isolation but that the current wave of the epidemic had still not reached its peak.

"Considering the still high numbers of new infections, we cannot say that the epidemic has reached its climax, especially when compared to other countries," Božinović told reporters at an event at which 28 vehicles for traffic police were handed over at the Police Academy.

Božinović said that one should be optimistic regarding the spring and hope that a new variant of the coronavirus would not emerge.

Commenting on the recommendation by the European Commission on shortening the validity of COVID certificates for citizens vaccinated with two doses, he said that the certificates could be issued under rules applicable to all 27 EU members.

"We must issue certificates as regulated by the EU, otherwise you are not able to cross the border. That also means shorter validity for two doses and recovery," he said, adding that a solution would be sought not to change anything for Croatian citizens.

A number of countries have shortened self-isolation to five days

Commenting on the possibility of shortening the period of quarantine, Božinović said that an important meeting would be held on Saturday between the national COVID-19 response team and representatives of the "Dr Andrija Štampar" public health institute.

"There is room for arranging things differently at the national level. Intensive talks are underway and confirmation is expected on Saturday," he said.

He added that one was considering shortening the period of self-isolation because research increasingly justifies it.

A number of countries have shortened the period of isolation to five days so as not to jeopardise their public services and the functioning of the state, he said, adding that his department did not have problems with labour shortages due to self-isolation and sick leave.

"We are not at risk but we have been thinking about it," he said.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Thursday, 27 January 2022

Croatia To Extend COVID Protocols Until February's End

ZAGREB, 27 Jan 2022 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović, who is at the helm of Croatia's COVID-19 crisis management team, said on Thursday that current COVID protocols would remain effective until the end of February if no changes happened in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.

"In the next few days, the crisis management team will consider the protocols on public gatherings, public transport, shopping, protective mask mandate, and cross-border protocols, and they are likely to remain in force until the end of February," Božinović told the government.

Health Minister Vili Beroš said that the PCR tests conducted in the last 24 hours had detected 10,500 new cases, plus 6,375 cases detected by rapid antigen tests, however, the daily caseload is 3.5% smaller than seven days ago.

There are 2,006 hospitalized patients today, 30 more than yesterday, and 185 are on ventilators, seven fewer than yesterday, he said.

Hospital admission numbers are rising mildly but not in proportion to the number of new infections, he said.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Beroš: COVID Restrictions Not to Be Lifted for Now Given Low Vaccination Rate

ZAGREB, 20 Jan 2022 - Due to its low vaccination rate, Croatia, for now, cannot consider lifting some of the COVID restrictions, and medical professionals continue to recommend compliance with the epidemiological measures in place to contain the virus, Health Minister Vili Beroš said at a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

He was commenting on plans by countries such as the United Kingdom and Israel, which have high vaccination rates, to lift the restrictions and the COVID pass mandate. He warned that in Croatia, a considerable number of people aged 75 and over were unvaccinated.

Despite the surge in the number of new infections, for now, there has been no increase in the number of COVID hospitalizations, so health care is also available to non-COVID patients, the health minister said.

"Today, 1,792 infected persons are being treated in hospitals, four fewer than yesterday. The COVID bed occupancy rate is 53.4 percent, which allows for other patients to be provided with the necessary health care as well," Beroš said.

Croatia today registered a record 17,489 new COVID cases, with the PCR test positivity rate reaching 51.44 percent and the rapid antigen test positivity rate 18.82 percent. The number of COVID patients on ventilators today is 195, nine fewer than on Wednesday. 

Beroš said that 18.63 percent of the total population had received an additional vaccine dose.

He noted that people being admitted to hospitals with the Omicron variant of the virus were mostly elderly and unvaccinated with other underlying conditions.

He said that the latest data published by the European Medicines Agency showed that mRNA COVID vaccines were safe during pregnancy.

The head of the national COVID response team, Interior Minister Davor Božinović, said that the travel ban on arrivals from South Africa and other African countries where the Omicron variant first appeared had been lifted given that this variant has become dominant in Croatia and Europe.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Monday, 10 January 2022

New COVID-19 Restrictions Take Effect as of Tuesday

ZAGREB, 10 Jan 2022 - The national COVID-19 crisis management team on Monday published tighter restrictions against COVID-19 on its website, and those tighter rules will be effective as of Tuesday.

The restrictions cap public gatherings at 50 in case of open-air events, and in the event that participants have COVID certificates the maximum number could be 200 if local response teams okay them.

Indoor private social gatherings are capped at 25. There can be a maximum of 50 persons at the site of private gatherings provided that all of them have COVID certificates.

Hospitality establishments can operate without any new restrictions, however, they can expect more frequent inspections and controls of the number of patrons. Checks will be stepped up to monitor compliance with the restriction on the number of guests, as well as with the requirements to maintain a physical distance of 1.5 meters, to use masks when not at the table, and to air and clean the establishment.

A limit on the number of spectators at sports events is imposed, so they will be allowed to fill up a maximum of 20% of an individual grandstand for an indoor event, that is 40% for an outdoor event.

It is mandatory to wear masks at religious and art events, film screenings and exhibitions, as well as sessions of representative bodies.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Monday, 10 January 2022

SDP Leader: New Anti-epidemic Rules Have Neither Been Announced nor Explained

ZAGREB, 10 Jan 2022 - Social Democratic Party leader Peđa Grbin said on Monday that new restrictions that were to have entered into force on Monday had not yet been released in the Official Gazette nor on the COVID response team's website, nor had the authorities explained to them as ordered by the Constitutional Court.

In a post on his Facebook profile, Grbin recalled that last week Interior Minister Davor Božinović, who is at the helm of the national COVID response team, stated that a surge in the number of infections caused by the Omicron variant of coronavirus, compelled the authorities to introduce new measures as of Monday which would additionally limit numbers at public gatherings.

"Today, on Monday, when they are supposed to enter into force, the new measures have not yet been advertised in the Official Gazette nor on the response team's website. Not only have they not been explained, as stipulated in the Constitutional Court ruling of 21 December 2021, but they also haven't even been released yet as I am writing this post. They do not exist and no one knows their content, what is written in them, how to act according to them, and yet they were to be implemented as of today," posted Grbin.

Grbin said that that showed how inconsistent and incompetent the government is in fighting the challenges facing Croatia and "when the numbers of those infected and deaths increase again, Plenković and co will blame the people."

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 6 January 2022

Croatia Logs Record-high 9,058 Coronavirus Cases

ZAGREB, 6 Jan 2022 - On Thursday, for the second day in a row, Croatia recorded a record-high number of new coronavirus cases, 9,058, while another 33 COVID patients have died, the national COVID-19 crisis management team said.

In the past 24 hours, 19,975 persons were tested for the virus and almost half the tests came back positive.

There are 1,824 hospitalized COVID patients, including 244 on ventilators, and there are 39,853 active cases, while 20,633 persons are self-isolating.

Croatia has registered 745,544 coronavirus cases to date and the death toll is 12,764.

To date, 55.82% of the population has been vaccinated, including 66.49% of adults, of whom 63.44% fully.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Thursday, 6 January 2022

Epidemiological Measures to Be Tightened After Record Number of Cases

January 6, 2021 - A record 8,587 new cases of coronavirus infection were recorded in Croatia yesterday, and 32 people died. A tightening of current epidemiological measures is expected throughout the country.

After the worst day of the infection, stricter epidemiological measures could be introduced throughout Croatia, such as limiting the work of cafes to 10 pm and canceling gatherings with a larger number of participants, reports

In Croatia, yesterday's record number of positives among those tested, more precisely 8,587 newly infected among 18,689 tested, confirms the virus has been unleashed in another difficult stage of the pandemic. But despite the large numbers, some believe that "omicron is the way out of the pandemic through collective immunity", and thus stricter epidemiological measures are not necessary; something which scientists, disagree with.

The pressure of coastal counties to introduce new stricter measures to at least reduce the rate of coronavirus spread is still strong because, for example, in Split-Dalmatia County, the number of infected among those tested has already exceeded 60 percent and testing capacity is too low, and it records an increasing number of hospitalized and patients on respirators.

With more than 9000 new cases unofficially confirmed today, the Headquarters could introduce some new measures, which would primarily mean shortening the work of cafes until 10 pm and canceling gatherings with many participants until further notice.

The measures will apply to the whole country, not just the coast, probably because the numbers are on the rise in all counties. The proposal to use covid certificates more extensively has not passed so far, although it has long been a routine, for example, in cafes in countries where the vaccination of citizens is much higher than in Croatia.

The latest research by British scientists from the University of East Anglia confirms that hesitation with the introduction of stricter measures in Croatia could result in severe consequences for the health of citizens.

They claim that weak epidemiological measures at the time of virus spread and poor vaccination pose a high risk for vulnerable groups, especially those who must not be vaccinated for some health reason or cannot gain immunity due to their health condition such as those with compromised immune systems.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.


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