Friday, 22 October 2021

Five Scientific Council Members Distance Themselves from Statements by Gordan Lauc

ZAGREB, 22 Oct 2021 - Five members of the government's Scientific Council on Friday distanced themselves from all statements made by Council member Gordan Lauc about the coronavirus pandemic, notably his latest messages that the pandemic is over and that only elderly people should get vaccinated. 

"We fully distance ourselves from all statements about the pandemic made by Gordan Lauc since the summer of 2020," says the declaration signed by Andreja Ambriović Ristov, Petra Klepac, Branko Kolarić and academicians Nenad Ban and Igor Rudan.

They in particular distanced themselves from Lauc's messages in which he declared the pandemic over or claimed that there are circumstances in which it is better to get infected. Lauc downplays the effectiveness of the epidemiological measures and the need for their application, recommends vaccination only for persons above a certain age and insinuates a connection between the increased mortality rate in Croatia and vaccination, they said.

"Anyone who says that any one of us could agree with Gordan Lauc's statements about the pandemic is not telling the truth," the signatories said.

The five members of the Scientific Council said that "their views on the pandemic are based on the existing knowledge from relevant professions and constantly evolving scientific knowledge, which often requires changes and adjustments of the COVID-19 response strategy, which then need to be explained to the public."

"That is why a responsible interpretation of scientifically accepted knowledge is essential at any time during the pandemic in order to keep the public properly informed and to protect human lives and maintain the economic activity of Croatian citizens as much as possible," the declaration says.

Speaking in an interview with N1 television of his statement that the existing vaccines poorly protect against COVID-19, Lauc said that vaccination is not a mechanism to stop the spread of the virus, but that the vaccine provides excellent protection against serious forms of the virus. He said that he is a scientist whom the government has asked for an opinion, but that he is not a government employee and need not obey the government.

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Monday, 18 October 2021

Croatia Reports 319 New Coronavirus Cases, 11 Deaths

ZAGREB, 18 Oct 2021 - In the past 24 hours, 319 coronavirus cases and 11 related deaths have been registered in Croatia, the national COVID-19 crisis management team said on Monday.

There are 9,299 active cases, including 945 hospitalized patients, 119 of whom are on ventilators, while 18,660 persons are self-isolating.

Croatia has registered 428,233 coronavirus cases to date, including 8,907 deaths and 410,027 recoveries. 1,293 people have recovered in the past 24 hours.

To date, 2,974,167 persons have been tested for the virus, including 2,815 in the past 24 hours, and 46.09% of the population has been vaccinated against COVID, including 55.25% of adults, of whom 51.93% have been fully vaccinated.

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

Friday, 15 October 2021

Beroš Responds to Parents Who Demonstrated in Front of His Home

ZAGREB, 15 Oct 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš on Thursday told parents who had demonstrated in front of his home against restrictions on visits to sick children that he understood their dissatisfaction, but that the place for dealing with such matters should be the Health Ministry.

"Neither the Health Ministry nor epidemiologists limited the duration of visits to your sick children," Beroš told a group of parents who had said on Facebook they were protesting because the duration of visits to their sick children was limited to 15 minutes.

The minister said that the national COVID-19 crisis management team and epidemiologists had decided that the parents of sick children being treated in Croatian hospitals and health facilities must meet epidemiological requirements as all other visitors, which means they need to have an EU COVID certificate as proof that they have been vaccinated, have recovered from coronavirus or have been tested for COVID-19.

The organization, time, and duration of visits to sick children, the minister said, is organized by each institution in accordance with its organizational and spatial possibilities, and they are required to inform the parents.

"I understand the dissatisfaction of parents... and I will always stand by them as a doctor, minister, and parent, but I cannot accept the way in which they are expressing their protest," the health minister said.

According to media reports, about a dozen of citizens gathered outside the health minister's home at about 7 pm, at the invitation of a religious education teacher from Križevci, Ivan Pokupac, via Facebook.

In the post, Pokupec said that every day they would visit the home address of one member of the crisis management team for 15 minutes.

Pokupec also wrote that last year parents had been allowed to stay with their children in hospital for 15 minutes, but this time with an additional condition - an EU digital COVID certificate.

He said there was no scientific, epidemiological, or moral argument for this and that the additional requirement served to force the concerned parents to get vaccinated.

For the latest news on coronavirus in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

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Thursday, 14 October 2021

Opposition Says Croatia Lacks Clear Strategy to Fight COVID-19

ZAGREB, 14 Oct 2021 - The parliamentary Opposition on Thursday reiterated that Croatia does not have a clear strategy to fight the coronavirus pandemic, expressing dissatisfaction with the way the crisis is being managed and calling for changing it.

"The attitude to COVID-19 has to change drastically. If the current situation continues, we will all end up on sedatives," said Marijan Pavliček of the Croatian Sovereignists ahead of a debate on the government's report on the impact of epidemiological measures taken in the period from June to the end of August.

Pavliček believes that over the past year and a half Croatians have been living in a paranormal system and "are going collectively insane."

The national coronavirus crisis management team has made a number of political instead of epidemiologically justified decisions, people are bombarded with the number of fatalities and new infections on a daily basis, he said.

"Do we have an exit strategy for this crisis and is it time we changed our attitude to COVID-19?" he asked.

Davor Dretar (Homeland Movement) claims that the crisis is being managed irresponsibly and irrationally, mentioning a case of a hospital cleaner from Zabok who was dismissed from work because she did not have a COVID-19 certificate and refused to get tested.

HDZ MP: What would have happened if doctors had cited human rights when there was no vaccine?

HDZ MP Željko Reiner confirmed that many people were refusing to get vaccinated and tested free of charge citing human rights and the alleged harmfulness of the vaccine as well as face masks.

"What would society have done if tens of thousands of doctors and nurses had invoked their human rights, fear from disease and death, while there was still no vaccine, and refused to treat patients?" he asked.

He called on Health Minister Vili Beroš, a neurosurgeon, to say what he would do if his colleagues performing operations refused to wear masks, gloves, caps, in the context of claims that it was not proven that they protected patients.

"How would society and the profession react?" he said.

Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin said he had a different message for Beroš.

"I believe that you want the situation to get better but what you have been doing is not contributing to it. Because of your inconsistency, the figures are as they are," he told Beroš, recalling that on Wednesday Croatia recorded, after a longer time, more than 2,000 new infections.

"That is horrible but so is the minister's statement that he and the prime minister were surprised by those figures. Why the surprise when it is clear that Croatia lacks a clear strategy to fight the pandemic and increase the vaccination rate," Grbin said, adding that 85% of Portugal's adult population were vaccinated because people were not sent confusing messages.

Marija Selak Raspudić of the Bridge party said that the government's report lacked crucial information such as how many citizens suffer from the post-COVID syndrome, what were the criteria for the procurement of vaccines, why exactly 18 million doses were procured and not more or less, etc.

Saturday, 9 October 2021

Croatian Nightclubs and Bars Still Can't Open Past Midnight

October 9, 2021 - The Association of Night Clubs and Bars addressed the public with a statement in which, as they say, they ''want to warn of the work of the Croatian Headquarters, which without real and scientific arguments, persistently maintain the decision to limit Croatian nightclubs and bars until midnight''.

“However, some cafes and restaurants are turning into nightclubs despite epidemiological measures and the law on noise protection, as they work illegally, so we can't help but wonder who is crazy in this situation! We are witnessing that the media often report on illegal parties in the capital, but many nightclubs and indoor bars are closed until further notice'', they addressed.

Precisely because of the bans on nightclubs and bars, the statement said, thousands of young people are finding night entertainment in neighboring Bosnia and Serbia because there are no restrictions in their countries, reports HrTurizam.hr. Catering facilities that are 30 to 40 minutes drive away in neighboring countries offer their services after midnight, their prices are cheaper and VAT in catering is lower and there is no consumption tax. Absolutely everything is available and allowed to them, both in the clubs themselves without any restrictions on working hours, COVID certificates and tests, and on their return to Croatia.

The Association of Voices of Entrepreneurs and the Association of Nightclubs and Bars believe that the Croatian Headquarters should take these facts into account, and act like EU countries and our neighboring countries, removing the restriction on working hours of Croatian nightclubs and bars and allow work in compliance with epidemiological measures. ''This approach and bans only encourage illegal work, and young people are still not vaccinated to the extent they anticipated. In addition, constant pressure and almost no measures to help nightclubs and bars harm the business, many cannot achieve fixed costs if the company is engaged in some other business in addition to the nightclub business, although it is very clear that they are banned from working!'', they added.

''We believe that this kind of abuse of the Headquarters over Croatian nightclubs and bars must end. We hereby tell them that they prefer to worry about how to increase the number of vaccinated among vulnerable groups and allow night catering establishments to work after more than 18 months and compensation for all the time they spent in lockdown!”, reads the statement.

"Even after more than 18 months without work, the Croatian Headquarters does not want to allow nightclubs in Croatia, so under the disguise of caring for the health of people who do not want to take responsibility for their own health and get vaccinated for two years destroys youth in Croatia, and we got the impression that the Government of the Republic of Croatia wants to destroy the event and the entertainment industry in the Republic of Croatia. These measures themselves encourage mass illegal parties, where there is no implementation of epidemiological measures, and fiscalization is a foreign word. Also, young people from Croatia are still looking for their desire to have fun in neighboring countries, especially Bosnia, where in addition to lower VAT, and therefore lower drink prices, they can now refuel much cheaper fuel, so it turns out that this trip is 30 minutes to clubs in our neighboring countries free. All this is available to them without any restrictions on working hours, covid certificates, or tests. It is obvious that the headquarters is showing hypocrisy where it does not allow us to work, and encourages going to neighboring countries where no one controls you. We want to emphasize once again that we are not guilty of poor vaccination of Croatia, but that the Headquarters seeks the culprits in its contradictory decisions, such as this scientifically and logically unfounded claim that coronavirus attacks after midnight", said Domagoj Petričević from the Association of Nightclubs and Bars.

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

Thursday, 7 October 2021

28 Months in Jail for Death Threats Against COVID Response Team's Members (Jutarnji List)

ZAGREB, 7 Oct 2021 - The Zagreb Municipal Court has sentenced Boris Štitić, 36, to two years and four months in prison pending an appeal for attempting to extort money from three members of the national COVID-19 crisis management team - Alemka Markotić, Krunoslav Capak, and Vili Beroš, Jutarnji List daily said on Thursday.

Štitić, a Slovenian and Croatian citizen, is a nurse with three convictions for fraud.

Under the latest sentence, he must also pay over HRK 10,000 in court costs. He has been released from detention, in which he had been since October 2020, and the stay behind bars will be counted towards the final sentence.

Although he claimed he was innocent at the start of the trial, he eventually confessed, justifying his actions with the COVID restrictions and the impossibility to see his child, who lives with the mother in Slovenia, during the pandemic, although a few weeks before sending threatening e-mails to the three officials, they spent several weeks on the coast.

The court did not find any mitigating circumstances, finding as aggravating that Štitić attempted to extort money from persons engaged in the fight against the pandemic and committing the offenses in an, especially odious manner, without any empathy for others, subjecting the victims to stress by making death threats against them and their families.

On 30 September 2020, Štitić sent e-mails to Markotić, Capak, and Beroš in which he said they would die unless they paid €100,000 in the Monero cryptocurrency.

Markotić is the director of Zagreb's Dr. Fran Mihaljević Infectious Diseases Hospital, Capak is the director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, and Beroš is the minister of health.

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Monday, 4 October 2021

Protest Held Outside KBC Split Hospital

ZAGREB, 4 Oct 2019 - Unvaccinated employees of the KBC Split hospital and members of the public on Monday staged a protest outside the hospital in that coastal city, shouting insults at members of the hospital management.

As of today, employees in the healthcare and welfare systems, visitors, and persons accompanying patients have to have digital COVID-19 certificates. All health workers coming to work have to present their COVID-19 certificate showing that they have either been vaccinated or have recovered from the coronavirus infection while others have to undergo testing two times a week.

The protesters outside the KBC Split hospital shouted insults at members of the hospital management, and some started pulling at them. They also shouted insults at reporters in an attempt to prevent them from taking statements from the hospital management.

The protesters said that they were not against vaccination but against being forced to get vaccinated.

One of the emergency medical service employees said the new rules were a form of pressure and that everyone should have the right to choose while one doctor blamed COVID-19 fatalities on the media which, she said, "kept feeding the public such information, and that hospitalized patients were dying of fear, not of coronavirus."

Split-Dalmatia County Assembly deputy head Mate Šimundić was also among the protesters.

Hospital head Julije Meštrović toured the locations on the hospital premises where employees were being tested for COVID-19, noting that everything was well organized and that there was no queuing.

Asked to comment on the protest, he said that protesters had the right to express their opinion and that most of them were not hospital staff but members of the public.

No protests in Rijeka 

The first day of the new epidemiological regime for healthcare and welfare system workers in Rijeka was without problems or protests, with the testing of unvaccinated staff having started over the weekend.

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

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Monday, 20 September 2021

Pupil Back to School With Mask, Ending Two-Week Absence Over Face Mask Row

ZAGREB, 20 Sept 2021 - An eighth-grader from the Krapinske Toplice elementary school came to school wearing a protective mask on Monday morning, thus ending his two-week absence caused by his parent's decision to defy the face mask rule.

"The boy resumed attending classes, and e entered the school building, wearing a protective mask while being in the hall", the school's headmaster, Samson Štibohar, told Hina.

At the beginning of the new school year, the father of this eighth-grader had claimed that his child could not wear the protective mask. The rule applies only in common areas of the school building in this northern Croatian town.

The father and several people who supported him held a protest rally on 10 September outside the school and later raided the school building. The police responded to the unruly rally and filed reports against some of the demonstrators.

After that, the headmaster and local employees of the social welfare center held talks with the parents, and the headmaster said today that the only thing that was important was that that the student was back in school.

"We achieved an agreement that it is essential for the student to resume his classes as usual", Štibohar said.

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Monday, 20 September 2021

Božinović: COVID-19 Team Not Considering Tightening or Relaxing Restrictions

ZAGREB, 20 Sept 2021 - Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said on Monday the national COVID-19 response team was not considering either tightening or relaxing epidemiological restrictions, such as the reopening of nightclubs, and that the protest against those restrictions held on Saturday was unjustified.

"At the moment we are not planning any tightening of the restrictions or their further liberalization," Božinović, who heads the COVID-19 response team, told reporters in Šibenik when asked if the reopening of nightclubs was being considered, as demanded by bar owners on Sunday.

He noted that it was not necessary to explain in great detail why nightclubs would not be allowed to reopen even if complying with anti-epidemic rules, including COVID-19 certificates.

"After 18 months of the pandemic, everyone will tell you that indoor areas are the main problem if they are not aired sufficiently and if people do not keep at least a minimum physical distance from one another," he said, stressing that gatherings at nightclubs were more difficult to control than gatherings at football matches.

No reason for the protest

Commenting on a protest against epidemiological restrictions, held in Zagreb on Saturday, Božinović said the protesters had gathered without any real reason.

"After the protest, at least some of them probably went to a cafe or a restaurant and were probably mad because they protested without any real reason," he said, adding the organizers had rushed to "stage something" after seeing scenes of protests in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

The minister also said that he did not know if police had acted after Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković had reported a person to them, who called him by the nickname 'Njonjo' (Wuss) in a phone conversation.

"It is normal for a protected person who gets a call from an unknown number to tell their security that they received a call from an unknown person who had insulted them. The protocol about that is clear... there is staff who take care of that," said the minister.

"I do not know if the police did anything, but I'm sure that everyone in that chain did what they were supposed to do," he said.

Božinović also commented on the lifting of visa requirements for Croatian nationals traveling to the USA, saying that after a long-lasting process he was an optimist. He expressed hope that Croatians would be allowed to travel to the USA without visas by the end of the year.

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 centers across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Students and Teachers in Sinj Wearing Masks in Class Today

ZAGREB, 16 Sept 2021 - Students and teachers of primary and secondary schools in Sinj must wear masks in class on Thursday, despite a recommendation of Sinj's civil protection team to lift the obligation to weak masks in schools.

"About 300 students and 25 teachers of the Dinko Šimunović Secondary School are today obliged to wear a protective mask in class, and the situation is the same in other secondary and primary schools in Sinj," the school's headmaster Tomislav Bilić told Hina.

He added that headmasters of primary and secondary schools in Sinj discussed on Wednesday evening the mandatory mask rule. He also said that one of his school's students was positive to COVID, and ten were in self-isolation because they had been in contact with the infected student.

On Wednesday, Sinj's civil protection team, at the proposal of Sinj Mayor Miro Bulj, made a decision recommending that elementary and secondary school students and teachers need not wear a protective mask.

Bilić said in a press release on the Dinko Šimunović school's website, despite the recommendation of the Sinj civil protection team, that measures on the mandatory wearing of masks in class were still in force.

He added that the school board might propose a decision to abolish these measures after collecting opinions from the Ministry of Science and Education, the teaching council, the parents' council and the students' council.

"I consider that through joint cooperation between teachers, parents, founders, the local team, and epidemiologists we will make the best decision in the interest of all our students," Bilić said in the press release.

The head of the education department within Split-Dalmatia County said on Wednesday that pupils in the county, including pupils in Sinj, were obliged to wear protective masks.

Students of primary and secondary schools in Sinj must wear masks tomorrow and in the next period, in compliance with the rules proposed by the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) and the Ministry of Science and Education, the county education department's head Tomislav Đonlić said on Wednesday evening in a press release.

The press release was prompted by the decision of the mayor of Sinj, Miro Bulj of the Bridge party, that elementary and secondary school pupils and teachers need not wear a mask.

"Mayor Bulj does not know the rules or intentionally accentuates this issue only to score cheap political points," Đonlić was quoted by the press release as saying.

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