Monday, 7 February 2022

COVID Certificates to Stay, Interior Minister Says

7 February 2022 - COVID certificates will not be abolished for the time being, the head of the COVID-19 crisis management team, Interior Minister Davor Božinović, said on Monday, refuting chief epidemiologist Krunoslav Capak's announcement that they might be partially abolished.

"From the start, we introduced a restricted COVID certificate mandate in Croatia and are following everything that is going on. However, the measure will stay for the time being, including the use of COVID certificates as it is," Božinović told the press.

Capak said earlier today that a partial abolishment of COVID certificates was being considered because they are losing in importance since the appearance of the Omicron variant and the fact that this year Croatia has registered 40,000 reinfections.

Božinović said the crisis management team would continue to follow developments in Croatia, the world and Europe, recalling that in some European countries it is not possible to enter a bar, a restaurant or a hotel without a COVID certificate, and that Germany has announced easing restrictions just before Easter.

"At the moment, we are still not in that situation," he said, adding that incidence in Croatia is still high.

"Let's be realistic, those advocating a major abolishment (of restrictions) have higher vaccination rates," he said, but would not specify the number of new daily cases which would be acceptable to abolish the certificates.

Božinović said 125,000 infections had been detected since the certificates were mandated in public services and that this had slowed down the spread of the virus and ensured the functioning of all public services.

Letter to border police on how to treat migrants

The minister also commented on a letter to border police on how to treat migrants, saying that it consisted of instructions which took into account vulnerable groups and respect for the law and that they were police station-level guidelines.

He added that the instructions stated that "consideration should be given with regard to video recordings and other activities that are not allowed in border areas under the law," adding that there was nothing contentious about that.

Sunday, 6 February 2022

Croatia Reports 6,001 New Coronavirus Cases, 59 Deaths

ZAGREB, 6 Feb 2022 - Croatia has recorded 6,001 new coronavirus cases and 59 deaths in the last 24 hours.

The national coronavirus response team said on Sunday that 4,780 new infections with the SARS-CoV-2 virus had been detected by PCR tests, while media reported that another 1,221 had been identified by rapid antigen tests.

Currently, 2,140 COVID patients are being treated in hospitals, 178 are on ventilators, while 25,006 people are self-isolating.

Since 25 February 2020, when the first case was confirmed in Croatia, 983,780 people have been registered as having been infected with the novel coronavirus. Of this number, 14,137 have died and 917,608 have recovered, including 8,706 in the last 24 hours.

A total of 4,328,022 people have been tested to date, including 10,787 in the last 24 hours.

To date, 5,132,763 vaccine doses have been administered, making up 56.64% of the total population, or 67.39% of the adult population, who have been vaccinated.

A total of 2,298,364 people have received at least one dose while 2,212,347 of them have been fully vaccinated, making up 65.02% of the adult population.

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.

Sunday, 6 February 2022

Croatia Tops EU List of COVID Deaths, Jutarnji List Says

ZAGREB, 6 Feb 2022 - With 73 deaths per million people, Croatia topped the EU list of COVID deaths in the past week, Jutarnji List newspaper wrote on Sunday.

It noted that the figure confirms misconceptions about a lower risk of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

"Omicron is a milder variant of the coronavirus and its consequences will not be as disastrous as those of Delta. We could ease the restrictions because hospitals are not being filled with too many patients, there is a mild decrease in infections or their number is stagnating. All these are self-delusions and attempts at downplaying the danger of the coronavirus pandemic which, unfortunately, continues to claim a lot of lives, namely more than 50 daily", the newspaper said. 

Last week, the National Bureau of Statistics provided a realistic picture of what the novel coronavirus has done to Croatia in the last two years. 63,611 people died in 2021 alone, 12,000 more than in the pre-pandemic year.

From March 2020, when the pandemic began in Croatia, until December 2021, there was a 16.9% increase in the number of deaths compared with the five-year average for the period preceding the pandemic. This translates to the deaths of 16,146 more Croatian citizens.

"These grim figures could have been much less frustrating had Croatian citizens gotten vaccinated like people in the majority of EU countries, as shown by the number of deaths in the last week", Jutarnji List said.

Despite a large number of infections, the Netherlands did not record a single COVID-19 death in the past week. Germany reported 10 deaths, Austria, which has made vaccination mandatory, registered 11 deaths, while Sweden, Spain, Portugal and Denmark had about 20 deaths per million people. All these countries have high vaccination rates, which produces obvious results. On the other hand, Croatia had 73 deaths and Bulgaria 68 deaths per million people, the newspaper 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.

Sunday, 6 February 2022

How Much Will Covid Tests for Croatian Schoolchildren Cost?

February the 6th, 2022 - Croatian schoolchildren will not need to begin having tests at home before arriving at their school premises for another week. It seems that the pricing information has also come in, which has been eagerly awaited by parents.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Directorate for Commodity Stocks has decided to purchase a massive three million rapid antigen tests for the at home testing of Croatian schoolchildren at a price of 6.95 kuna + VAT, as reported by Media servis.

On top of the pricing for the tests intended for Croatian schoolchildren, all of the necessary delivery dynamics have also been agreed and the first tranche of one million rapid antigen tests will be delivered by the 9th of this month at the very latest, and the rest within a period no longer than fourteen days.

Minister of Science and Education Radovan Fuchs said on Thursday that the at home testing of Croatian schoolchildren will begin when the Directorate of Commodity Stocks actually physically delivers the tests to the country's schools, and will be conducted in three phases, after which he hopes the need for them at all will disappear, writes tportal.

On Mondays, parents of Croatian schoolchildren will test their children for the presence of the novel coronavirus, and if a positive case occurs in the classroom, the test will be repeated and students who are negative can continue to go to school.

''We're going to be basing this on trust and assume that parents won't try to cheat the system to suit their liking, because the meaning of this measure is to keep as many children in their classrooms as possible,'' said Fuchs, adding that entire classes "dropped out" of their classrooms just because several students had tested positive.

Testing will be conducted for one month, and if everything goes as we imagined, we will move on to testing only in classes where a positive student appears.

The third step is the total abolition of such testing, Fuchs said, and expressed hope that the planned timetable could be realised, and that in the end it will be possible to abolish the wearing of masks as well.

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.

Saturday, 5 February 2022

Croatia Logs 11,230 New COVID-19 Cases, 43 Deaths

ZAGREB, 5 Feb 2022 - In the last 24 hours, there have been 11,230 new cases of infection with coronavirus in Croatia, while 43 patients have died, the national COVID-19 crisis management team said on Saturday.

A total of 7,536 new cases of the infection were identified with PCR tests while 3,694 were identified with rapid antigen tests.

The number of active cases now stands at 56,020, including 2,115 patients who are hospitalised, of whom 194 are on ventilators.

A total of 27,233 people are self-isolating.

Since the start of the epidemic in March 2020, 979,000 people have become infected with the novel coronavirus and 14,078 have died.

To date, 4,317,235 persons have been tested, including 15,314 in the past 24 hours.

A total of 56.62% of the total population has been vaccinated with at least one dose or 67.37% of adults. A total of 2,211,326 adults have been fully vaccinated.

Saturday, 5 February 2022

New Novavax Nuvaxovid Vaccine to Become Available in Croatia

February the 5th, 2022 - A new vaccine against the novel coronavirus, Nuvaxovid made by the American company Novavax, will be made available here in Croatia by the end of this month. 

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the fifth vaccine approved for use against the novel coronavirus, Nuvaxovid made by the American company Novavax, should arrive in Croatia by the end of February.

Prof. dr. sc. Mirjana Kujundzic Tiljak, the director of the Andrija Stampar School of Public Health at the Medical Faculty of the University of Zagreb, said on HTV on Thursday that this was a completely new vaccine.

''We know nothing about its effectiveness on new strains. We don't even know how long the protection will last. That's what is written in the official description of the medicine,'' said Kujundzic Tiljak as a guest of the Dobro jutro Hrvatska/Good morning Croatia show.

Given that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved Nuvaxovid back in December, as the first protein vaccine approved for use in the European Union, much is known about the vaccine itself. In addition to European Union countries, Israel has already ordered this new vaccine, ordering their first five million doses last week, even before the vaccine was officially approved in that country.

"This vaccine will be another alternative for those who cannot or don't want to receive the mRNA vaccines," the Israeli Health Ministry said. The same message was sent on Saturday by Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, saying that Novavax's Nuvaxovid has proven ''highly effective'' in preventing moderate to severe clinical pictures of the disease. He therefore called on those few who haven't yet been vaccinated to do so when the first doses arrive in Ireland, as reported by tportal.

Back in September last year, based on an agreement between the European Commission and Novavax, Croatia ordered 198,000 doses of Nuvaxovid, and in early December, Dr. Dragan Primorac told RTL Direkt that the vaccine was ''extremely effective'' in relation to the new and rapidly spreading variant, Omicron.

Nuvaxovid is given in two doses three weeks apart. Unlike mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna), which use part of the novel coronavirus' genetic code, and vector vaccines (AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson) which use a harmless, genetically modified virus to transmit part of the coronavirus' DNA, protein vaccines contain fragments of a protein unique to the novel coronavirus. These fragments are enough for the body to respond by creating a natural defense against infection, and Novavax also uses insect cells in vaccine production.

The technology of protein vaccines is not new, on the contrary - vaccines against pertussis and hepatitis B have been developed on the same principle. Such a vaccine does not have to be stored at low temperatures, which is especially important for developing countries.

The results of two main clinical trials with more than 45,000 subjects showed that Nuvaxovid vaccines are safe and effective in the prevention of covid in persons aged 18 years and older. The first study, conducted in Mexico and the United States, showed a 90.4 percent reduction in the number of symptomatic cases of infection in people who received Nuvaxovid, seven days after their second dose. A second clinical trial, conducted in the United Kingdom, showed a vaccine effectiveness of 89.7 percent. It should be noted that these studies were conducted on ''old'' variants of the novel coronavirus, before the emergence of Omicron, but Novavax has meanwhile reported that their vaccine also generates an immune response to the Omicron variant.

The most common side effects were mild to moderate and went away in a few days. They included pain and tenderness at the vaccine site, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, general weakness, joint pain, and nausea or vomiting.

Nuvaxovid is a protein vaccine with a laboratory-grown version of the spike protein present on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The vaccine also contains an ''adjuvant'', a substance that helps boost the immune response to the vaccine, HALMED said.

When the vaccine is given, a person's immune system will identify the protein as foreign and will create a natural defense against it, ie antibodies and T-cells. In case of genuine coronavirus infection, the immune system will then quickly recognise the spike protein on the virus as being the same and be ready to attack it. Antibodies and immune cells work together to kill the virus, prevent it from entering the body's cells, and destroy those already infected cells, helping to protect against full coronavirus infection.

Below are the EMA's answers to a few additional questions about this new American vaccine.

Can people who have already recovered from covid be vaccinated with Nuvaxovid?

There were no additional adverse reactions in subjects receiving Nuvaxovid in clinical trials who had previously had a coronavirus infection. There was insufficient data from the study to conclude how well Nuvaxovid works in people who have already had the virus.

Can pregnant and breastfeeding women be vaccinated with Nuvaxovid?

Animal studies do not indicate any harmful effects in pregnancy, however, data on the use of Nuvaxovid during pregnancy remains limited. Although there are no studies on breastfeeding, no risk is expected. The decision to use the vaccine in pregnant women should be made in close consultation with a healthcare professional after considering the benefits and risks.

Can children be vaccinated with Nuvaxovid?

Nuvaxovid is not currently recommended for people under 18 years of age. The EMA has agreed with Novavax on a plan for later testing of the vaccine in children.

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, 4 February 2022

Croatia's Total Coronavirus Death Toll Exceeds 14,000

ZAGREB, 4 Feb 2022 - Croatia has registered 11,980 new coronavirus cases and 46 deaths in the last 24 hours, with the total death toll since the start of the pandemic in the country crossing the threshold of 14,000, the country's COVID crisis management team reported on Friday.

Of the 11,980 new cases, 8,094 were confirmed by PCR tests and 3,886 by rapid antigen tests. Compared with last Friday, the number of new infections dropped by more than 3,500.

According to the data provided by the national coronavirus response team, 2,126 infected persons are currently being treated in hospitals and 185 of them are placed on ventilators.

With the 46 deaths registered in the last 24 hours, the total coronavirus death toll has climbed to 14,035. Nearly 4,000 people have died since 17 November.

The number of active cases stands at 57,686 and 27,656 people are self-isolating.

Since 25 February 2020, when the first case was confirmed in Croatia, 971,464 people have been registered as having contracted the novel virus after 4,301,921 tests carried out.

As of Thursday, 56.60 per cent of the total population, or 67.35 per cent of the adult population, received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 64.96 per cent received two doses.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Health Minister Defends COVID Certificates, Testing Children

ZAGREB, 3 Feb 2022 - Health Minister Vili Beroš defended in parliament on Thursday the COVID certificate mandate and children testing as part of the fight against the pandemic and underlined the importance of vaccination because the tourist season could depend on it.

"One of the criteria the European Commission might consider for travel recommendations is the vaccination rate of the domestic population. If it is so, we'll have a problem and won't do well," Beroš told Emil Daus of the Istrian Democratic Party, who asked about plans for the summer tourist season.

Last year we were the champions of safety in the Mediterranean, but this summer the tourism situation might be bad and vaccination is the way out, Beroš said, adding that vaccines protect against serious illness and death also with the new variants.

Submitting a report on coronavirus protocols, he dismissed some MPs' claims that COVID certificates were pointless given that the vaccinated are contagious, too.

"COVID certificates don't represent absolute but optimal safety given what is being invested," Beroš said, adding that the vaccinated are far less contagious than the unvaccinated.

He said no EU member state had abolished the certificates and was not jumping to conclusions.

"Great Britain has abolished them, but it's not in the EU. Denmark is considering it but hasn't abolished them. Some countries with high vaccination rates are considering changing the application of COVID certificates, but are not abolishing them," the minister said, adding that the certificates are an instrument of the European Commission and that they enable travel.

As for the testing of children, Beroš said it was being introduced not only for health safety but to allow children to go to school. Testing is harmless and is being conducted in 16 European countries, he added.

Defending the justification of testing, the minister said that since it was introduced in the public sector, 1.6 million tests had been done and that 116,000 came back positive.

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

Minister Says Bookings in Tourism Sector Good, Vaccination Rate Must Be Higher

ZAGREB, 3 Feb 2022 - Minister Nikolina Brnjac and tourism sector representatives warned on Thursday about the need to have a higher rate of vaccination against COVID-19 in the country, calling on the sector and other stakeholders to be responsible so as to maintain the current good situation with bookings.

The tourism minister and officials said this after this year's first session of the Council for Tourism Development and Recovery, at which Brnjac informed sector representatives about work on a new tourism strategy and new developments regarding labor.

Brnjac said a new online system for the registration and import of workers would be put into operation on 1 March, which would expedite the process.

Speaking of the new rules of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), on which a country's color now also depends on the vaccination rate, Brnjac said that the vaccination rate in the Mediterranean is already much higher than in Croatia.

"Even though the vaccination rate in the tourism sector is around 70% and the sector was among the first to respond to the vaccination campaign, we call for maintaining a responsible approach because it is vital to avoid ending up as a dark red zone," she said.

Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) assistant director Marija Bubaš said that all EU countries were now dark red on the ECDC map but that most that had a higher vaccination rate were expected to see a larger drop in infections than Croatia.

Hoteliers worried despite good booking

Even though the situation with bookings for this year's tourist season, notably summer, is good, the head of the Hoteliers Association at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), Josipa Jutt Ferlan, said hoteliers were worried about the increase in infections as well as the rising energy and other prices.

"We are actually again back to square one and we hope that all our efforts to fight the pandemic will not go to waste. One should really work on raising the awareness that the vaccination rate is insufficient and needs to be higher. That is why it is still too early to say if the start of the tourist season will be good or not," she said.

The head of the UHPA association of travel agencies, Tomislav Fain, said that the booking for this season was good and even better than for 2019, but he, too, warned that agency and other bookings in tourism and travel, in general, depend much on rules restricting travel, calling for making those rules uniform.

H​​​e also thanked the government for continuing its job-keeping support for travel agencies.

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.

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.

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