Monday, 24 February 2020

Prime Minister Meets with Coronavirus Crisis Management Team

ZAGREB, February 24, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Sunday met with the Health Ministry's coronavirus crisis management team, who informed him of the measures that had been undertaken so far and plans for preventing the spread of the novel virus, a government press release said.

Also discussed was the current situation regarding the spread of the coronavirus in neighbouring Italy.

Earlier on Sunday, Health Minister Vili Beroš confirmed that two patients admitted to the clinical hospital centre in Rijeka were not infected with the virus. The patients are an Italian national and a Croatian woman from the northern coastal resort town of Rovinj who has visited Padua, and both are in good condition.

There are no cases of the coronavirus infection in Croatia, the Croatian Public Health Institute said on Sunday. To date, 18 people have undergone laboratory tests and all were negative.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), 78,833 people worldwide have tested positive for the infection and 2,463 have died. In Europe, 121 people are currently infected.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Croatian Citizen from Coronavirus Cruise Liner Quarantined in Zagreb Hospital

ZAGREB, February 22, 2020 - A Croatian citizen who had spent time on the Diamond Princess cruise liner in Japan arrived in Croatia on Saturday morning and was placed in the quarantine unit of the Dr Fran Mihaljević Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Zagreb. He has no symptoms of infection with the coronavirus and he feels good.

The man arrived in Zagreb via Germany and Slovenia in a special medical vehicle accompanied by medical staff. He was placed as a precaution in the quarantine unit of the Dr Fran Mihaljević Hospital for Infectious Diseases, set up following yesterday's decision by Health Minister Vili Beroš at the proposal of the Croatian Public Health Institute, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Attending doctors said that the man exhibited no symptoms of infection and felt good. Notwithstanding the time he spent in isolation on the cruise liner, he will stay in the quarantine unit for at least 14 days as a precaution to eliminate any risks given the high-risk epidemiological situation on the ship he came from, the statement said.

"Croatian health services will leave nothing to chance. We will continue to take all precautionary measures available to protect our citizens from a possible risk of the coronavirus infection, including by quarantining people with even the smallest risk to their health or the health of people who come in contact with them," Minister Beroš said.

"I am glad that our citizen is aware of his situation and that he himself has expressed a wish to stay in isolation as long as necessary medically," he added.

The Croatian citizen arrived from Japan aboard a special flight organised by Italy for its and other EU citizens. After landing in Berlin, he and Slovenian citizens were flown by a special plane to Maribor, from where he was transferred to Zagreb by a special medical vehicle. The man is in constant touch with his family by telephone, the statement said.

More news about coronavirus can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Health Minister Decides to Establish Coronavirus Quarantine Unit

ZAGREB, February 22, 2020 - Health Minister Vili Beroš on Friday adopted a decision to establish a quarantine unit as a preventative safety measure to protect citizens from any possible threat of the coronavirus, at the Croatian Institute for Public Health's recommendation, the ministry said.

The quarantine unit has been set up at the Dr Fran Mihaljević Infectious Diseases Hospital in Zagreb for anyone who is suspected of or is determined to have been in touch with infected or possibly infected persons while spending in time in areas considered to be the source of the disease.

Quarantine will last in line with health assessments. The decision enters into force today, the ministry underscored.

"To date, luckily, there aren't any people infected with the coronavirus in Croatia. However, we do not want to leave anything to chance in the protection of Croatian citizens from this health threat. The experience of neighbouring Italy and some other communities demand us to play it extra safe and, in addition to everything undertaken so far, I have decided to establish a quarantine unit as an additional preventative measure," said Minister Beroš.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Coronavirus: Plans Underway for Reception of Croatians From Cruise Ship

ZAGREB, February 20, 2020 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Thursday that Croatians from the Diamond Princess cruise ship would be returning to Croatia after 14 days of quarantine on the ship on Thursday and Friday, adding that plans were being made for their reception as the coronavirus epidemiological situation on the ship was worse than in China.

Six Croatians spent two weeks in quarantine aboard the Diamond Princess in the Japanese port of Yokohama due to the coronavirus that spread among the passengers.

Noting that plans were being made for the reception of the Croatian nationals, the minister said that the epidemiological situation on the cruise ship was not entirely clear to him.

"Given the current circumstances, we will act a bit differently," he said.

"They will return home in different ways, some will arrive today and some tomorrow," he said.

Asked if the Croatians would be put into quarantine, he said that plans were being made for their reception, stressing that the epidemiological situation on the cruise ship was worse than in China.

"I believe that it is due to the specific circumstances of staying on a vessel and I sincerely hope that that is the only problem," he added.

The Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Ministry said on Wednesday that a Croatian national who had stayed aboard the Diamond Princess as a passenger left the ship on Wednesday, that he was considered healthy and that there were no restrictions on his movement. As for the other five Croatians who are still on the ship as crew members, they continued their stay in quarantine together with other crew members even though they do not exhibit any symptoms of the disease.

540 cases of infection with the novel coronavirus have been identified on the vessel with 3,700 passengers and crew members.

More news about Croatia and coronavirus can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

One Croatian National Leaves Diamond Princess Cruise Ship, Five to Stay

ZAGREB, February 19, 2020 - A Croatian national who stayed aboard the Diamond Princess ship as a passenger left the ship on Wednesday and five other Croatians are still on the ship because they are members of the crew, sources at the Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Ministry said on Wednesday.

Passengers on the Diamond Princess, where 540 cases of novel coronavirus infection have been confirmed, started leaving the vessel on Wednesday after spending 14 days in quarantine in the Japanese port of Yokohama.

In line with a decision by Japanese authorities, the passengers who meet the set conditions will leave the vessel first, to be followed by crew members, the ministry said.

The Japanese Health Ministry said that around 500 passengers exhibiting no symptoms of the novel coronavirus infection, who had tested negative for the infection and who did not have any contact with those infected with the novel coronavirus, would leave the vessel during the day.

"A Croatian national who was staying on the Diamond Princes as a passenger left the ship today. He is considered healthy and there are no restrictions on his movement," said the Croatian ministry.

"The other five Croatian nationals aboard the vessel who are crew members will continue their stay in quarantine aboard the ship, together with other crew members, even though they do not have symptoms of the disease," said the ministry.

More news about Croatia and coronavirus can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Croatian Media Coverage on Coronavirus Fair, With Some Unnecessary Panic Spreading

ZAGREB, February 19, 2020 - Reporting by Croatian media on the novel coronavirus to date has been mainly fair and helped raise the general public's awareness about this disease that was first detected in China, however, there have been some cases of causing unnecessary panic by certain reports.

The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) on Tuesday organised a panel discussion on the topic "Information or Panic" regarding the media coverage of the outbreak of this contagious disease in the world.

Participants in the panel discussion agreed that in Croatia, where there have been no coronavirus-related death cases, reporting has been rather correct and balanced.

However, although we have provided media with accurate information, there have been some cases of causing irrational fear by some reports, said the head of the Dr. Fran Mihaljević clinic, Alemka Markotić.

In this context she criticised dissemination of opinions of like-mined people on some panic-prone social networks.

She says that it is understandable that the novel virus with the official name Covid-19, that was recently detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan, could give rise to unease and anxiety. On the other hand, she underscored the fact that only 47 patients to date have been diagnosed in Europe, and in Croatia there have been no cases of this disease.

Markotić admitted that the death rate from this virus was higher than the death rate from influenza, but she also points out the fact that this is in no way an incurable disease.

To date in Croatia 17 people have been tested for this virus, as they had certain symptoms such as a high body temperature and were in contact with the Chinese, and all the tests have been negative, Markotić said.

Some of the doctors who took part in the debate pointed out the fact that media outlets should also write about positive things, such as the number of patients who have recovered from the disease.

Thus, it has been underscored that over 12,000 patients in the world have been successfully treated and have recovered.

Krunoslav Čapak, head of the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ), said that media failed to report the fact that Croatia had been the first European country to introduce active medical monitoring of returnees from regions hit by the disease.

More health news can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Croatians Twice as Likely to Die From Treatable Diseases Compared to EU

Croatian Parliament MPs Božo Petrov and Ines Strenja emphasized that, despite the dismissal of Health Minister Milan Kujundžic, problems with Croatian health system have not gone away. They also pointed out that Croatians are twice as likely to die of treatable diseases as citizens in more developed European countries.

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MediCarrera | Screenshot

Medical Staff Leaving Croatia: Remainers Working Unpaid Overtime

"After three and a half years of inaction, it is time to start treating chronic illnesses in the Croatian healthcare system. The system is in debt, irrationally organized, filled with red tape and waiting lists while doctors and other medical staff are leaving Croatia (for opportunities abroad). Those who remain, like nurses, are at a disadvantage and are being forced to work unpaid overtime hours,” Petrov pointed out.

Scandinavia Offers Croatians Free Relocation, Language Training, Child Care

Indeed, more financially prosperous EU countries have set up one-stop recruiting sites to lure medical professionals to their countries to the further detriment of Croatian citizens and residents. MediCarrera, a website serving the medical career recruitment needs of Denmark, Sweden and Norway; offers job placement, language training for hires and their families, accommodations and relocation costs; all of which are financed by employers in their respective countries.

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MediCarrera | Screenshot

Several Swedish media outlets have recently criticized Croatia for its demographic losses and emigration.

Despite these external and internal challenges, Petrov insisted to members of the Croatian government that Most would not let them continue policies of inaction which had defined the former health minister's term according to Index on February 14, 2020.

Croatians Have Highest Mortality Rate for Treatable Diseases

Strenja pointed out that Croatian citizens continue to occupy high, and sometimes the highest, mortality rates among all EU citizens for avoidable and treatable diseases.

The reason, she said, lies in the lack of effective preventive medicine, timely diagnosis and the timely beginning of treatment.

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Ines Strenja | Most

Strenja: Investing in Preventative Medicine Yields Fourfold Savings

"Again, unrefined protocol, procedures, measures and responsibilities will continue to miss desired expectations, which is ultimately evident in the overall health data. We emphasize that the investment in preventive medicine is the best bet and yields fourfold savings in treatment," Strenje explained.

She added that ex-Minister Kujundžic's files contain proposals for national strategies that would lower the death rate in Croatia from preventable diseases which is currently 293 per 100 thousand inhabitants compared to 140 per 100 thousand in the EU. The mortality from treatable diseases in our country is 140 per 100 thousand compared to only 90 out of 100 thousand in the EU.

“Therefore, I am calling on the new Health Minister, Vili Beroš, to discharge them and move on to combat chronic non-communicable diseases and conditions in Croatia,” Strenja urged.

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Ivan Bekavac | N1

Bekavac: Action Plan Another 'Wish List'

Ivan Bekavac, Advisor for Most’s Health Council, pointed out that two key documents should guide the future of Croatians: The Draft Proposal for the Prevention and Control of Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases 2020-2026 and the Draft National Cancer Plan 2020-2030.

"The Action Plan for the Prevention and Control off Chronic Noncommunicable Diseases 2020-2026 does not sufficiently emphasize the responsibility of the Croatian government for the health of the population, because it must place much greater emphasis on the coordination of all departments in promoting and preserving health. It is just a wish list of suggestions, and is almost identical to the previous action plan, and again lacks elements of supervision, monitoring, performance evaluation and research," he explained.

He also considers it a disadvantage that the Draft National Cancer Plan 2020-2030 omitted family medicine doctors who are most familiar with their patients, their habits and family heritage, and emphasized that they should be key stakeholders in encouraging and mobilizing patients for preventive examinations.

Follow our Politics page to keep updated on the health care crisis in Croatia.

Friday, 7 February 2020

Beroš: Croatia’s Response to Coronavirus Adequate and Quick

ZAGREB, February 7, 2020 - There is no case of coronavirus detected in Croatia and the Health Ministry and the government acted quickly and adequately when the epidemic emerged in the world and there is no need for panic, Health Minister Vili Beroš said during the cabinet meeting on Thursday.

The coronavirus disease is new and Croatia has to be prepared for all possible scenarios. Caution is needed in treating potential patients coming to the country and the ministry is coordinating and implementing all the measures that are required through its emergency headquarters, Beroš said.

He noted that current information indicates that there are 28,280 people infected with the disease worldwide, 257 being in China. So far there have been 565 fatalities, and all but two have been recorded in China. The disease has been identified in 24 countries.

There have been 28 people in the EU registered with the disease in France, Germany, Finland, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, and Russia.

Beroš underscored that the characteristics of the disease are not that alarming yet for it to be considered to be an exceptional threat however certain caution is required with potential patients who are coming to Croatia.

"Just upon the outbreak of the epidemic an expert team in the ministry was activated and the emergency team has networked the entire health system, also through telemedicine and video links, and personnel are on call," Beroš said.

All mechanisms in the emergency headquarters have been set into motion and the emergency team will send a notice to all cities and counties of the need to monitor the health situation in their region.

Detailed instructions have been compiled for all health workers how to deal with suspicious cases as well as instructions for border police and health inspectors at the border.

The Civil Aviation Agency has sent instructions to all airlines that come to Croatia and established cooperation between the relevant state institutions.

The Croatian Public Health Institute introduced special health inspection measures on February 2 for all passengers arriving from China or who had been in China within the incubation period of 14 days.

That proved to be a good measure because the very first day the measure was introduced a female passenger was identified who had been Wuhan just 12 days prior to landing in Zagreb, Beroš recalled. She was then advised to remain in quarantine for the next two days at least.

More news about Croatia and coronavirus can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Zagreb Patients Being Transported Regularly Despite Strike

ZAGREB, February 5, 2020 - A certain number of ambulance drivers in Zagreb went on strike on Wednesday, but patients are being transported regularly, the head of the city's Department of Emergency Medical Services, Žarko Rašić, said.

The department asked a court to ban the strike considering that the Healthcare Act does not provide for the possibility of emergency medical services staff organising a strike, Rašić told Hina.

"At the moment, everything is operating normally. All patients have been transported for dialysis treatment and there are no long waits. We have about 15 ZET city transport drivers on call if need be and about 30 staff from other institutions - drivers and nurses who are prepared to step in," Rašić said and added that 31 ambulance crews were on the ground.

No one from the union of ambulance drivers was available this morning for a comment. The union announced on Monday that ambulance crews in Zagreb would go on strike to demand a pay rise so that their monthly wages are equated with those of drivers of emergency medical service vehicles, which would require an additional two million kuna (270 million euro) annually.

The union is demanding that the government adopt a regulation to define job titles and job complexity indices so that ambulance drivers be reinstated with their original index which was reduced when the ambulance service was divested from the emergency medical service in 2011.

Talks were held at the Health Ministry on Tuesday with the leader of the ambulance drivers' union Mišel Majetić, and Minister Vili Beroš offered a compromise regarding job complexity indices.

Beroš said on Wednesday morning that the Department of Emergency Medical Services had asked a court to say whether the strike was lawful and that until the court delivered its ruling it was his duty to see to it that emergency services were operating normally.

More healthcare news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Croatia Won't Close Borders over Coronavirus Until Decision Is Made at European Level

ZAGREB, February 5, 2020 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Tuesday that Croatia would not close its borders over the novel coronavirus as long as there was no such agreement at the European level.

"We are not going to ban people from entering Croatia, but we are going to ask them who they are, where they come from and whether they have any symptoms of the disease," Beroš told a news conference, adding that the Croatian authorities would act in accordance with professional standards for the prevention of an outbreak of this communicable disease.

He also noted that currently there were 27 cases of the coronavirus in Europe, and added that the death rate was about three percent. "This is an even lower rate than in flu cases," he said and called for caution because this was a new type of virus.

Later on Tuesday, it was reported that two young men, who had recently been to Shanghai and had been hospitalised in the eastern town of Vinkovci as one of them had a high body temperature and the other respiratory problems, had not contracted the coronavirus. All the tests were negative in their case.

DAILY UPDATES: Total Croatia News provides LIVE daily updates on the coronavirus epidemic here.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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