Monday, 5 July 2021

Split Singer Ursula Najev Refuses to Hold Concerts under Current Anti-COVID Rules

5 July, 2021 - Split singer Ursula Najev had to postpone and then cancel her concert series because of organisational difficulties arising from anti-COVID regulations. She posted a statement on her social media outlets that is causing quite a stir.

We are heading towards the middle of a very interesting summer. On one hand, tourist mubers are rising leading to a glimpse of optimism from many in Croatia. On the other, we are seeing increased tensions in the expectation of a potential new wave of infections. The dreaded delta strain of the COVID19 virus is in everyone's minds. The government is trying to disable the spread of the virus by imposing various restrictions. They are also trying to put pressure on those still not vaccinated to do so.

Protest against Aggressive Measures

Media statements by Split performing artist Ursula Najev have grabbed many people's attention. After spending years preparing her concert program „For Amy“, Ursula Najev had to cancel her performance on the Split Riva. The concert was scheduled for tomorrow. After the organisers switched venues and dates of subsequent perfomances because of related restrictions, they eventually cancelled the entire series. The singer spoke out over her social media outlets claiming she refuses to perform under the current conditions.

She claims discriminating against those not vaccinated and forcing people to pay for very expensive PCR tests in order to attend a performance is unethical. In fact, she compared singing in a concert like that to performing at Hitler's wedding. As Index.hr reports, Najev wrote she refuses to organise a concert her family members will not be able to attend. She went on to make a very compelling point by referring to government ideas on offering citizens free theatre or cultural events' tickets as a vaccination incentive. Instead, she proposes the government uses food and beverage vouchers as Croatians are rarely attending cultural events as it is.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with Split based singer, her public statement does raise awareness on massive problems facing performance artists in Croatia. Culture and art were difficult fields to make a living in even before the COVID pandemic. In the past year and a half very little was done to try and alleviate the financial problems of people whose sector is one of the most brutally hit by the pandemic restrictions.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and choose your preferred language.

For more news like this, follow our lifestyle section

 

Monday, 7 June 2021

Adult Population Vaccination Rate in Croatia to Reach 50% by End of June

June 7, 2021 – With many in Croatia hoping for a more relaxed summer than 2020, all eyes and ears are on the country's healthcare professionals. Here's some news from the COVID front and the adult population vaccination rate in Croatia.

The constant following COVID19 infections are getting rather tiring for everyone. Croatians have turned their attention massively towards the tourism season and summer as the only chance to enjoy a bit of rest and relaxation. As the strain on the health system starts to lessen, the questions surrounding the future of restrictions imposed on businesses grow more common.

It is evident the main factor for getting life back to normal will be the vaccination process. Index.hr reports on the latest trends. Their article quotes Diana Mayer, an epidemiologist with the Croatian Institute of Public Health. She expressed her satisfaction with the interest in vaccination. It is no secret there have been those opposing the vaccine in Croatia But it seems a bigger part of the population is willing to get vaccinated in hope of restrictions being lifted. The official data says 1,33 million Croatians have been vaccinated at least once, with roughly 564,000 of those receiving both doses. In a country of barely 4 million inhabitants, this is not a negligible result. According to Mayer, we are to see half of the population vaccinated by the end of June. Hopefully, this translates into a calmer Autumn.

Positive Trend

On Sunday the 6th of June 2021, there were 157 new cases of COVID19 infections in Croatia. The numbers seem to be going down, but it is way too early to draw any optimistic conclusions about the trends in near future. The waiting time for people who register for vaccination is also declining. Epidemiologist Mayer said this is not due to the decline of interest. More positive news comes from KB Dubrava (Clinical Hospital Dubrava), the largest COVID hospital in Croatia. KB Dubrava is to resume its normal function today and starts receiving non-COVID19 patients after 217 days. Let's hope this is just the beginning of a long-lasting positive trend.

 For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border, and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centres across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Friday, 21 May 2021

Croats Plan Holidays as EU Digital Green Certificate Introduction Looms

May the 21st, 2021 - With the warm summer months rapidly approaching and with the vaccination rollout across Europe picking up its pace, plans are being hatched for a much needed holiday by the vast majority of Europeans. We might hear the most about the mass bookings the Brits and Germans are making, but what are the plans of Croatian travellers this summer? With the EU Digital Green Certificate introduction looming, arrangements are being made.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the tourist season is creeping up at somewhat of an alarming speed, and along with it is the EU Digital Green Certificate introduction and an easier regime for cross-border travel agreed upon by the European Union recently. As Croats, much like most other Europeans, scramble for the chance of a break abroad, trips to the likes of Portugal and Turkey are on the cards.

Along with Turkey and Portugal, Croatian travellers are also looking a bit further afield and showing interest in Morocco, according to a report from Dnevnik.hr.

The fact that Croats are busy looking for getaways as restrictions ease once again was confirmed by the president of the association of Croatian travel agencies, Tomislav Fain, who claimed that the number of bookings of foreign trips has increased, but it's still not much to write home about just yet.

“Now, if we were to compare with last year it would probably be 100 percent better than the way things were back then, but of course last year when we were practically in lockdown at this time is of course not comparable. We always have to go back to pre-pandemic 2019 or some other earlier year, when we still lived normally and travelled normally,'' Fain explained.

Normal travel within the European Union (EU) should also be made possible by the aforementioned EU Gigital Green Certificate introduction which is being negotiated at the European Union level.

"It's a certificate that will include those people who have recovered from the disease, been vaccinated and those who have tested negative, they will all be allowed to enjoy freedom of movement," explained Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.

For more, follow our travel section.

Thursday, 20 May 2021

HZJZ: One in Three Adults Vaccinated

ZAGREB, 20 May 2021 - As of today, every third adult in Croatia has been vaccinated against COVID-19, the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, 19 May, 43,890 doses of the vaccine were used, and the number of persons that have received at least one dose reached 1,109,161, which is 27% of the population or 33% of the adult population, while 341,008 persons have received both doses.

According to data from the eCijepih platform, as of 20 May, every third adult in Croatia has been vaccinated, which is a big step forward compared to early May, when on 1 May every fifth adult citizen of Croatia had been vaccinated, the HZJZ said.

First dose vaccine coverage is highest in Zagreb, 31% of the total population or 37.6% of the adult population, and second dose vaccine coverage is highest in Sisak-Moslavina County, 12% of the population or 14.4% of adults.

"These are encouraging data that give us reason for optimism when it comes to meeting the goal of vaccinating over a half of Croatia's adult population by the end of June. Vaccination is going according to plan, the epidemiological situation is better than in previous weeks and this is certainly good news, especially in the context of the upcoming tourist season," said HZJZ deputy director Ivana Pavić Šimetin.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centres up and down the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and choose your preferred language.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Ministry Denies Claims That COVID Jab Bookings Were Deleted From Platform

April 24, 2021 - The health ministry on Saturday refuted media allegations about deleting 4,000 Covid jab bookings for getting vaccinated from the CijepiSe registration platform on 23 February.

The ministry explained that some minor technical deficiencies appeared in connecting the relevant data about holders of social security numbers during the test trial of the platform.

The ministry was notified about this information after it asked the company to develop and manage the cijepise.zdravlje.hr platform to give its opinion on the matter.

It has been established that all the data relevant for making vaccination appointments were not connected in the case of 200 citizens who booked COVID vaccinations during the trial test of the platform.

As soon as it got this information, the ministry demanded an urgent solution to the problem, and then solving the issue is ongoing, the ministry said.

The ministry dispelled fears that this might adversely affect the schedule for getting vaccinated, explaining that the schedule for administering COVID-19 vaccinations is arranged according to the priorities defined in the vaccine rollout plan and not according to o the date of sending the request for vaccination.

As many as 160,000 Croatians have booked COVID vaccines through the cijepise.zdravlje.hr, and no irregularities except the above-mentioned technical problem involving 200 entries have been recorded.

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

Monday, 15 March 2021

Minister Beros: Theoretically Possible for Croatia to Order Russian Vaccine

March the 15th, 2021 - Croatian Health Minister Beros has spoken out about the EU vaccination rollout and the possibility of Croatia getting its hands on the Russian Sputnik vaccine without needing permission to do so from the EU. Theoretically, he says, it is possible.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the question of whether Croatia is already experiencing the third wave of the pandemic, what is going on with mass vaccination, a look at the country´s epidemiological measures and the tourist season were questions answered by Health Minister Vili Beros on HRT.

This week we record 28 percent more infections than we did last week...

¨On the 384th day since the beginning of the pandemic in Croatia, apart from the newly infected, today there are 855 patients who were hospitalised, which is as many as 50 more than yesterday, meaning that in the last 24 hours, 92 people were hospitalised. This indicates that the virus remains very much around us and that we all need to be careful and act together. It´s extremely important that we follow the basic measures because these are factors that can prevent the spread of infection. In the context of the upcoming tourist season, this is exactly what needs to be constantly mentioned. We´re all responsible for what will happen tomorrow,¨ Minister Beros said.

When asked if there will be another tightening up of the measures at the national level if this trend of an increasing number of patients continues, Minister Beros stated that the National Civil Protection Headquarters has been emphasising the role of county headquarters since back in autumn and is trying to encourage staff to think locally. An example of this, he says, is down in Dubrovnik-Neretva County, their headquarters concluded that something had to change there and he thanked them for that. He added that they will think more about local action depending on the epidemiological situation, than about horisontal measures that would apply to the whole of Croatia.

¨328 thousand doses of vaccine were used and 257 thousand citizens have been vaccinated. 56.7 percent of these doses were related to those in the second vaccination group, ie the elderly and the chronically ill. The Croatian healthcare system is able to vaccinate even more, but things are being limited by the quantities of vaccines coming into Croatia that are less than what was agreed on and expected. The Prime Minister and everyone else are making efforts to respond to these challenges as well,¨ Minister Beros said.

The AstraZeneca vaccine

Minister Beros emphasised the importance of scientific evaluation of everything related to vaccination. He said that approximately a thousand people are hospitalised annually in Croatia for various sorts of thrombosis or embolism. Another 2,200 due to pulmonary embolism, and a total of 3,200 of our fellow citizens, or 9 are hospitalised daily due to thrombo-embolic incidents. From that, he notes, a certain part of them does die and will continue to die. Therefore, given the number of vaccinated people, it is unfortunately to be expected that such deaths will continue. It is important that side effects are reported frequently so that more research can be carried out.

¨The WHO has announced recently that over 268 million people in the world have been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine and that no significant deviations, incidents or deaths related to this vaccine have been found. This has been confirmed by our British colleagues who have extensive experience and a large number of vaccinated people,¨ the Minister added.

The Russian Sputnik vaccine and Croatia

¨We´re still oriented towards joint procurement through the European Commission (EC) and we believe that the circumstances will improve. Recent announcements by vaccine manufacturers that they will increase doses are in favour of this. However, if this is not the case, we will have to orient ourselves and organise ourselves towards some other manufacturers. Croatia has made contact with the Russian health authorities and some documentation has been received. Tomorrow we will start the evaluation process in HALMED. Whether this documentation is complete and how long the procedure will last, I cannot say at this moment in time,¨ said Minister Beros.

When asked what should happen for Croatia to start purchasing vaccines on its own, he answered that several factors are crucial:

¨This will depend on whether the EC will take our remarks into account in regard to the need for corrective mechanisms that will balance out the delivery of vaccines, furthermore, will the manufacturers, as announced, increase those deliveries, all these are elements that will play their role at some point. The task of this Government is to provide citizens with a safe, effective and quality vaccine. When we´re sure that a vaccine is like that, then we will open the doors to that vaccine, but not before.

It is theoretically possible to import the Russian vaccine through intervention imports. If necessary, I will personally support it because it will mean that European mechanisms have failed, which I believe will not happen,¨ concluded Minister Beros.

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Sunday, 14 March 2021

Expert Says: No Link Between Death of 91-year-old Woman and Vaccination

ZAGREB, 13 March 2021 - The head of Croatia's Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Services (HALMED), Siniša Tomić, said on Saturday that according to preliminary data he did not believe that there was a connection between the death of a 91-year-old woman and her inoculation with AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID.

The HALMED regulator and the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) are supposed to adopt their joint conclusion on this matter next week; he told the national broadcaster HTV on Saturday evening.

HALMED is looking into a 7 March report of a fatal pulmonary embolism in the 91-year-old woman three days after receiving a shot of AstraZeneca.

According to Tomić, this case will also be on the agenda of the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Tomić said that to date, 14 reports had been submitted in Croatia about side effects with death outcome after inoculations against coronavirus. In nine cases, the reports were sent after the inoculation with the Pfizer vaccine and in five with AstraZeneca.

In six cases, it has been ruled out that the death might be associated with inoculation. In two cases, this relationship does not seem probable, and in another six cases, the authorities are waiting for more supporting documents.

To read more about Coronavirus in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

PM: Croatia has Ordered Enough Vaccines, Demands They be Delivered

ZAGREB, 13 March 2021 - Croatia has ordered "more than enough" COVID-19 vaccines via the European Commission's centralised system but is faced with late deliveries because manufacturers are not honouring what has been signed, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has told France 24.

He was speaking for "Talking Europe", a programme on French national television, while visiting Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

"We ordered more than enough, but the vaccines are distributed pro rata, that is how much vaccine you ordered from which company."

He said he came to Brussels because Croatia was faced with late deliveries. "That's the main reason I'm here... I insist that what we signed, what we ordered, be delivered."

"I talked about it with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and her team. We ordered the vaccine via the centralised system set up by the Commission."

Regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine, Plenković agreed with Rome's decision to block a delivery of 250,000 doses to Australia. He said he supported the Italian authorities' move to send "a concrete signal" to AstraZeneca that "it must honour what has been signed."

That is in no way against Australia, but it's necessary to remind companies that they must adhere to signed agreements, he added.

Since Croatia has vaccinated only 5% of its population and has, alongside France, one of the lowest vaccination rates in the EU, he was asked if he was willing, like Hungary, to buy the Russian vaccine without the approval of the European Medicines Agency.

"Every government must approach with the utmost caution matters concerning public health, people's safety and vaccination. The EMA and the Croatian medicines agency are filters, and experts must help governments make wise decisions. To me as prime minister, public health and the safety and protection of our citizens will always come first."

Regarding the suspension of vaccination with AstraZeneca in a number of European countries due to allegedly serious side effects, including blood clots, Plenković said no such cases had been registered in Croatia.

"We haven't noticed any of the side effects after the administration of AstraZeneca/Oxford that may have occurred in other countries. On the contrary, we believed from the start that this vaccine is good also for our citizens older than 65," he said.

"At this moment, according to the information we have, we have neither reason nor grounds to apply that measure and will continue to use the AstraZeneca vaccine," he added.

Speaking of the Commission's proposal to introduce so-called COVID passports, whereby travellers would certify that they are vaccinated or have a negative PCR test, Plenković said it could be part of a strategy to bring tourists back to Croatia.

He said "it could serve as an aid to enable free travel. That's something we should consider."

To read more about Covid-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Monday, 8 March 2021

Women Better Responded to COVID-19 Vaccine, Study Shows

ZAGREB, 8 March, 2021 - People who had recovered from COVID-19 had a considerably high level of antibodies after the first dose of vaccine, which did not increase after the second shot, so they most probably will not need a second dose, the director of the Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Zagreb, Alemka Markotić, said on Monday.

Speaking at a regular press conference given by the national COVID-19 response team, Markotić presented the results of a study conducted by the hospital among its staff. The results have also been requested by the European Medicines Agency.

Women responded better than men

All staff had statistically considerably higher immunoglobulin levels a month after the second dose of vaccine compared with the first dose. Women responded better and had higher levels than men, especially after the second dose. There was a slightly negative correlation with age, as elderly subjects had a weaker response, which was moderate, Markotić said.

After the second dose, there was a considerable rise in the level of antibodies. None of the staff fell ill after the vaccination, and no differences were established among staff in respect of their job at the hospital, she added.

So far 426 (55.3%) of the staff at the Hospital for Infectious Diseases have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Eight of them developed allergic reactions after the first dose and were not administered a second dose.

Initial serological tests were done on 420 staff three weeks after the administration of the first dose and shortly before the second dose, while second serological tests were performed on 82 staff four weeks after the second dose.

The subjects were 344 women and 89 men. They included 321 health workers and 112 workers in the healthcare system who are not in as close contact with patients as health workers.

Women better responded to the vaccine after the first and second shots. There is a negative correlation between the level of antibodies and age, which was expected given that the immunology system becomes less responsive with ageing, Markotić said.

Monday, 8 March 2021

Epidemiologist: Roll-Out of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine to Start in Croatia in Early April

ZAGREB, 8 March, 2021 - The distribution of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus single-dose vaccine can be expected in Croatia in early April, the head of Zagreb's Fran Mihaljević hospital for infectious diseases said on Sunday evening.

Asked by the commercial NOVA TV broadcaster whether Croatia is facing the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospital's head, Dr. Alemka Markotić, said that the developments in Croatia's neighbourhood and in Europe "are being followed with the closest attention."

"The numbers are rapidly rising. Each country is trying to take care of its specific features and act accordingly," the doctor said adding that Croatia is currently among the countries that are faring best against COVID.

Markotić recalls that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) tried to give some common guidelines, however, everybody assessed that their respective countries had too many differences and specific features.

"(Anti-epidemic) measures are important, we should adhere to them so as to keep the things at bay," Markotić said, among other things.

She added that on Monday a team of Croatian researchers would present findings of a study about the efficacy of the second shot of two-dose vaccines. The research has been conducted in Croatia.

The findings show that a high antibody titer was produced by some organisms after the they received the second dose of the COVID vaccination, she said.

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