Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Teachers Need to Be Educated About Students' Mental Health

ZAGREB, 7 June 2022 - Nearly three-quarters of school staff do not know how to recognize problems related to students' mental health or how to help them even though they would like to do so, hence they need to be educated, it was said on Tuesday ahead of this year's UNICEF Milky Way charity race.

This year, UNICEF will support the Milky Way race with a standardized mental health literacy program for teachers called "Help Me", implemented by the Croatian Institute of Public Health with the support of the Agency for Education.

The head of the Living Healthy program, Sanja Musić Milanović, said that in 2017, a survey was conducted on the health literacy of educators.

"The results showed that almost all of them or as many as 95% are willing to learn how to recognise and react to mental health problems of their students. However, 76% do not dare do anything because they do not know how they can help," she said.

That is why we need "education for educators," Musić Milanović said and invited citizens to join and support the education program. She added that physical activity is extremely important for maintaining mental health but also for the prevention of obesity and other health problems associated with being overweight.

The Milky Way race has attracted about 20,000 participants and raised about HRK 2.5 million. This year's edition is especially important because it comes after a challenging and stressful period marked by the pandemic and earthquakes, said the head of the UNICEF Office for Croatia, Regina Castillo.

Mental health means a better quality of life, and the first signs of mental health problems appear as early as childhood and puberty. Problems are present in 12% of young people between the ages of 10 and 19, Castillo said. 

"Research conducted in Croatia indicates that the mental health of young people after the pandemic is deteriorating. "The idea behind the 'Help Me' program is to help people between the ages of 14 and 16 because that's when they feel powerless," the director of the Education Agency, Dubravka Brezak Stamać, said.

UNICEF's Milky Way charity race will take place from 9 to 18 September throughout Croatia. Citizens can participate by walking, running, cycling, rollerblading or by making a donation and in that way help raise awareness of the importance of the mental health of children and young people.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Saturday, 1 January 2022

No New Croatian Covid Measures Currently Planned Despite Omicron

January the 1st, 2022 - Are any new Croatian covid measures on the table now that the festive period of Christmas and NYE are out of the way? As Omicron spreads throughout Europe and with many countries tightening things up, Croatia appears to have no concrete plans as yet.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the worsening epidemiological situation in Croatia has given rise to more questions, especially given the fact that the vaccination rate is still not satisfactory and every second test in Split-Dalmatia County has been positive. While Croatia was busy extending the opening hours of its catering and hospitality establishments during the festive period, Omicron measures have been being tightened across Europe.

The director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, said on HTV's "Otvoreno/Open" show that the new strain of coronavirus, Omicron, has been being detected by sequencing, stressing that the number of people infected with Omicron will be continuously reported as the situation unfolds.

''These are still small numbers compared to what's happening in the surrounding countries,'' said Capak.

He pointed out that Croatia has so far been very successful in stopping and slowing down the arrival of new strains of the novel coronavirus, because we were the first European country to introduce a ban on foreigners coming into the country from South Africa to Croatia, and all Croatian citizens and permanent residents coming from those areas were to be quarantined.

''We had cooperation with the border police at Croatian airports. They informed us of the names and addresses of people coming here from those parts of the world. Epidemiologists immediately contacted them and quarantined them for fourteen days, and so we stopped the spread of that strain of the virus. Our figures are very favourable,'' he added.

The director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health said that Omicron is still not dominant in Croatia, pointing out that there are more people infected with Omicron in Dalmatian counties than there are on the continent.

The director of the Public Health Teaching Institute of Split-Dalmatia County, Zeljka Karin, emphasised that a record number of new patients in that county had been being set, and that we have to take into account that we have a huge number of tests being taken, so that share is slightly higher than fifty percent. But it was to be expected, because the Omicron variant appeared, it was the festive period in which there are more gatherings, and that all led to an increase in the number of new positive cases,'' Karin reasonably said.

The director of the Public Health Institute of Split-Dalmatia County said that the number of newly infected people in Split-Dalmatia County has been quite high for several weeks now.

''It's known that in this county there is a low vaccination rate compared to other counties across Croatia. These numbers are certainly the consequences of that,'' she said. Karin also pointed out that patients in the past two or three days don't present with a very severe clinical picture, as was the case before.

''That said, we can't estimate what that clinical picture will be like in the future. We have an increase in hospitalisations, and we still don’t know if it’s because of Omicron or if it’s because of the Delta strain. So for now, we can't say anything about what the clinical pictures will become, but the increase in hospitalisations is large, but so is the increase in the number of people on respirators,'' Karin warned.

The head of the Istrian Civil Protection Directorate, Dino Kozlevac, pointed out that there were "consistently high numbers" of positive cases across Istria.

''The numbers have been growing since September. What's happening? We have liberal measures, that should be said clearly and loudly. The whole of Croatia has liberal measures in relation to Europe,'' he said, adding that people should make sure to properly adhere more to all current Croatian covid measures, including maintaining social distancing and wearing masks.

He added that the current situation will be assessed in the coming days, and there is a possibility that new measures for Istria will be discussed in agreement with the National Civil Protection Directorate.

The director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, pointed out that the situation is being reviewed on a daily basis and Croatian covid measures are being taken accordingly, and this will be the case in the coming days, although there is nothing concrete yet to speak of. He added that the situation in other counties will be monitored on a daily basis and if the situation worsens, which can be expected due to the arrival of the Omicron strain, in that case some Croatian covid measures may well be tightened.

"Nothing is on the table at the moment," he repeated.

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.

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

Public Health Institute Publishes New Croatian Omicron Rules

December the 29th, 2021 - Croatian Omicron rules have been put in place and clarified as the new variant of the novel coronavirus sweeps Europe. Although it appears that the Omicron variant causes a far less severe clinical picture and there are only a few confirmed cases in Croatia, measures must still remain in place for now as the situation unfolds.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian Institute of Public Health has published new Croatian Omicron rules which regard quarantine and self-isolation.

The revised rules of the CNIPH for the treatment of patients, those who have been in close contact with a lab confirmed positive case and the termination of self-isolation and quarantine bring several important changes to Croatian Omicron rules.

People who have been vaccinated, have contracted and then recovered from the disease in the past three months, or have been vaccinated after recovering should not be quarantined/put into self-isolation, the new Croatian Omicron rules state.

If the source of infection is confirmed to be infected with the Omicron variant or there is an epidemiological suspicion that it is the Omicron variant in question, all of that individual's contacts (except the exceptions below) are subject to a fourteen-day quarantine period and should be tested with a PCR test at the beginning of their quarantine and on the last day of quarantine.

If the suspected Omicron variant is excluded by sequencing, the fourteen-day quarantine period can be terminated and their contacts will be further treated as they would be in the case of their exposure to domesticated coronavirus variants.

The following people don't need to go into self-isolation/quarantine:

Immunocompetent individuals who have received their primary vaccination (one dose of the Janssen vaccine or two doses of a vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna etc) received in two doses) and subsequently vaccinated with a booster dose.

People who have contracted and recovered from the novel coronavirus and received their primary vaccination after recovery (one dose of Janssen or two doses of vaccine given in two doses)

People who have had coronavirus within the last 90 days before their close contact with a possible or confirmed Omicron case, regardless of their vaccination status.

People who are exempted from quarantine should intensify any measures to prevent droplet infections within fourteen days of contact with increased hand washing etc, and it is recommended that they be tested by rapid antigen test as soon as possible after their close contact and every third day for two weeks after their exposure. A positive rapid antigen test result should then be confirmed by a PCR test.

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.

Wednesday, 15 December 2021

Ivana Pavic Simetin Advocating Croatian Covid Certificates for Kids

December the 15th, 2021 - Croatian covid certificates for children is definitely something that has been getting a lot of attention from the public and has become a talking point for all sorts of views from both ends of the spectrum ever since Ivana Pavic Simetin, Krunoslav Capak's deputy at the Croatian Institute of Public Health, first mulled over the idea.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes the deputy director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Ivana Pavic Simetin, told reporters that the latest batch of vaccines will be arriving in the country in the usual way it has done before. "The vaccine plane arrives on Monday and then distribution starts," she said.

"What is coming isn't all for children, there are two boxes for children, the rest of them are for adults, and there will be a total of 48,000 doses for children aged from 5 to 12 years of age. Children between the ages of 12 and 18 are now being vaccinated as adults,'' Ivana Pavic Simetin explained.

"Some of the vaccines will remain here at the Croatian Institute of Public Health, while the rest will go off to various county institutes for public health, and from there to the dispensaries. According to the county institutes, everyone will organise their vaccinations for children through pediatric clinics, schools and general practitioners. Where there is more interest, vaccinations will be organised at mass vaccination points too,'' she explained, adding that the booster doses don't apply to children. "For children who are immunocompromised, the third dose applies, and it should be given one month after the first two doses," she said.

When asked what the interest in vaccinating children is, Ivana Pavic Simetin said: “Parents are inquiring about vaccination, especially parents who have vaccinated children over 12. We see particular interest in parents whose children are chronically unwell, especially if they're immunodeficient. There is interest, but unfortunately it is not, and it will not be like in some Western countries where more than 50 percent of children over the age of 12 have already been vaccinated,'' she said, adding that the vaccination of children will start on Wednesday at the School of Public Health in Zagreb, and will continue on Saturday.

The difference in coronavirus vaccines for children and adults

Regarding the difference between the coronavirus vaccine for children and that for adults, Ivana Pavic Simetin explained that the bottle itself differs in terms of the colour of the cap, and that it is important for doctors to note "that there are 10 doses of vaccine in one bottle and that it should be used within a period of 12 hours.''

“Children get two doses just like adults, but the children's dose is one third of the adult dose,'' she added.

As for the idea of Croatian covid certificates for children, Ivana Pavic Simetin said: "This should be discussed with AKD, but it would be good if we could go for covid certificates for kids."

A new shipment of vaccines for children, she added, will arrive in Croatia during March next year.

How many children have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus in Croatia so far?

According to the deputy director of the CNIPH, about 6,400 children between the ages of 12 and 14 across Croatia have now been vaccinated with their first dose, which is about 5.18 percent of that age group. 55,000 young people aged 15 to 19 were also vaccinated.

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.

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Croatian Vaccination Rate Interactive Map Updated With New Data

December the 14th, 2021 - The Croatian Institute of Public Health (CNIPH) has published an interactive map of the Croatian vaccination rate, which we wrote about not long ago. It has now been updated with the latest vaccination data from across the country.

As Russian tourists fly into the country on special flights solely to get vaccinated with a vaccine that is recognised by the European Union (EU) and most likely to get their hands on the much desired EU covid certificate, the situation with the domicile population hasn't really been all that impressive when it comes to vaccination. Mass vaccination points have been set up in many locations nationwide, but some are still lagging.

The new rules surrounding Croatian covid certificates, the arrival of the Omicron variant and Croatia's recently high infection and death rate appears, however, to have pushed more to get vaccinated.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian Institute of Public Health has published an updated version of the interactive Croatian vaccination rate map for the country's cities, municipalities and counties. Municipalities with a lower percentage of vaccinated residents are marked in the dark red shades.

The lighter shades of orange and yellow are those that have a slightly higher vaccination rate, and now most of the country's municipalities are in this group.

The bold orange colour represents a vaccination rate of 30 to 39 percent and a slightly lighter shade of orange represents a Croatian vaccination rate of 40 to 49 percent.

The yellow colour marks out the locations in which 50 to 59 percent of the population is vaccinated.

You can see view the updated version of the interactive Croatian vaccination rate map by clicking here.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including testing centre and vaccination point locations, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Monday, 29 November 2021

CNIPH Publishes Press Release on Omicron, New Covid Variant of Concern

November the 29th, 2021 - The Croatian Institute of Public Health (CNIPH) has published a press release on the new variant of the novel coronavirus, Omicron, deemed to be a variant of concern (VOC).

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Omicron, the new coronavirus variant is currently being considered potentially more dangerous because it has almost twice as many mutations as the Delta variant. Variant B.1.1.529, named Omicron, was declared a cause for concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday, placing it in the same category as the Delta variant, they said.

''Variant B 1.1.529 has more than 30 mutations on its spike protein alone. If these mutations are seen as a new possibility of increased infectivity and transmissibility, which gives the virus a greater ability to bypass immunity, both from vaccination and acquired, then it is a very complex variant with mutations that haven't been previously recorded, so it is difficult to predict the implications for the course of the pandemic and immunity. Nevertheless, experts believe that vaccines will continue to offer a high level of protection against the severe clinical picture that leads to hospitalisations and death,'' they stated.

They pointed out that the new variant is most often found in younger people (ages 18 to 34), and it is in these age groups that the lowest vaccination rate in the Republic of South Africa was recorded.

''British experts emphasise the need for vaccination based on reports received from South Africa, according to which a larger number of hospitalisations are recorded in groups of unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated persons. In addition, vaccine manufacturers have expressed the view that they will be able to quickly adapt their vaccines to the Omicron variant,'' they wrote.

The CNIPH also stated that the European Commission (EC) is proposing a procedure for a coordinated approach in limiting the spread of new variants within and across the EU.

''From an EU perspective, the emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2 remain a cause for concern and should be closely monitored. In order to obtain timely and accurate information on the origin and circulation of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern or interest, it is essential that EU member states maintain or achieve a sufficiently high range of sequencing. Such a coordinated approach should include circumstances in which member states impose restrictions on movement for certain areas where the epidemiological situation is expected to deteriorate rapidly, and especially for areas that are currently seriously affected by the epidemic,'' the CNIPH said.

''In conclusion, this is a real reminder that the pandemic is far from over yet. If there’s one thing everyone can do now is this: choose your vaccine, whether it’s your first dose or second,'' the CNIPH appealed in conclusion.

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, 28 November 2021

Croatian Public Health Institute Publishes Coronavirus Booster Info

November the 28th, 2021 - The Croatian Institute of Public Health has published a recommendation for the coronavirus booster dose in immunocompromised persons.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, according to these new recommendations, the coronavirus booster dose is especially recommended for sensitive groups (such as the elderly and the immunocompromised), but also for all people six months after receiving their primary vaccination(s).

“Taking into account the specifics of their health condition(s) as well as their family and work environments that may be important in making a decision on vaccination, for all persons aged 18 and over, at least 6 months must have passed after the completion of their primary vaccination, and then they can receive their coronavirus booster after speaking to their doctor.

People who have had COVID-19 and who have started and completed their primary vaccination after recovering from the illness don't need a third/booster dose.

The coronavirus booster vaccination is therefore available and recommended to everyone, and is ESPECIALLY important for the following categories of the population:

1) People living in care homes and adults with disabilities

2) Workers employed by care homes and who work with adults with disabilities

3) Healthcare professionals who directly care for patients at any level of healthcare

4) All persons aged 65 and over,

5) All persons aged 18 and over who share a household with immunocompromised and highly sensitive people

6) All persons aged 18 and over suffering from chronic diseases that increase the risk for more severe clinical picture of COVID-19 is contracted

Vaccination with the coronavirus booster dose is especially strongly recommended for immunocompromised individuals.

A total of 150,715 people across Croatia had been vaccinated with a coronavirus booster dose by the 24th of November, 2021.

The proposal for the organisation/improvement of the coronavirus booster vaccination rollout:

Improving the implementation of the coronavirus booster vaccine certainly requires all healthcare institutions and health care providers to, if they aren't doing so already, organise for the vaccination of their employees on the spot with an additional dose.

In addition, it's necessary to insist that all care homes, if they're not doing so already, to organise the vaccination of their employees and users on the spot with the third/additional dose in the same way as they organised vaccination in the first phase back in January and February 2021 (with the use of mobile teams).

It is also necessary to remind all GPs by letter that it is necessary for all adults for whom six months have passed since the end of their primary vaccination to be reminded by phone or e-mail (the latter requires almost no effort if a generic message is placed in the email inviting the person to come for vaccination) to come to get their coronavirus booster vaccine. Furthermore, family physicians should actively invite their insured persons for their third dose (by calling them by phone or e-mail for their booster dose).

To date, numerous mass vaccination points have been organised that are sometimes mobile. It is to be expected that these locations will adapt to the weather in this colder period of the year, so it's recommended that a person interested in receiving their coronavirus booster vaccination contact the competent public health institution in their county and seek information on the exact location of vaccination when it suits them.

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 if it isn't English.

Monday, 8 November 2021

Croatian Public Health Institute Publishes Detailed Guidelines for Schools

November the 8th, 2021 - The Croatian Public Health Institute has published the latest detailed guidelines for schools as infection numbers soar and attempts are made with various new measures and ramped up vaccination to slow the spread and the pressure on the healthcare system.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ/CNIPH) and the Ministry of Science and Education have published detailed and updated instructions on the use of masks in primary and secondary schools for students, school and kindergarten staff and other adults during their stay there, to try to prevent and control the currently rapid spread of the novel coronavirus.

The updated instructions state in which situations protective masks are mandatory: for students from fifth grade of primary school onwards throughout their stay in school and during their stay in the classroom, even in the case of an institution where there is a gap (social distancing) ensured in classrooms between all persons (students, teachers, etc.) larger than 1.5 metres.

In addition to the above, masks are mandatory for high school students during their entire stay on school premises and during their time in the classroom, even when it comes to an institution where the distance in classrooms between all persons (students, teachers, etc.) is greater than two metres.

Masks are also mandatory for teachers and all other staff working in schools and kindergartens, as well as parents and other adults during any time spent in the school building and in kindergartens, as well as during any time spent in the classroom or with an educational group.

Exceptionally, vaccinated primary school teachers, as well as primary school teachers who have recovered from coronavirus in the past 12 months, don't need to wear a mask when in their own classroom or with their own educational group if they don't wish to.

For students from the first to the fourth grade of primary school (including the fourth grade) when passing through common areas or when in all situations of a shorter duration when students of one grade mix with students of another grade, they don't need to wear a mask if they don't wish to.

Classroom seating arrangements also need to be arranged to achieve the widest possible distance between students.

Early years and preschool children, as well as students with disabilities who are undertaking special programmes, don't need to wear protective masks.

Only a student and an employee whose individual state of health makes this impossible can be exempted from the obligation to wear a mask when at school, and the above is determined by the competent school doctor for the student or the family doctor (GP) for the employee.

Masks don't need to be worn during physical education (PE) and other similar health classes, nor do they need to be worn during other forms of physical activity and during meals, according to updated instructions published on November the 5th on the Croatian Public Health Institute's website.

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, 29 October 2021

Croatian Employers Would Implement Covid Certificate Introduction But Can't

October the 29th, 2021 - Croatian employers would gladly introduce covid certification presentation as a mandatory move but cannot under current Croatian law. As a result, they're seeking two important things from the state.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, many Croatian employers claim they're overwhelmed and irritated waiting around for the state to finally define the rules around covid certificates, which they would like to introduce them at workplaces and thus join the health and social care system which already have the same rule, but Croatian employers cannot do that because they have no legal basis to introduce it.

The Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) has therefore asked the relevant ministries to issue instructions to employers, which would answer numerous inquiries and concerns about covid certificates owned by their workers, and provide some clear guidelines on how to organise further business given the negative epidemiological situation and the number of workers who are unwell and in self-isolation. They are also asking the state to cover the costs of testing for the novel virus.

Despite the recommendations of the Croatian Institute of Public Health (CNIPH), Croatian employers currently have no legal basis to ask their employees to present a covid certificate, nor to remove them from the workplace if he doesn't produce one,'' they explained from HUP.

Namely, Resolution 2361 (2021) is in force across EU member states, which stipulates that people must be informed that vaccination against the novel coronavirus isn't mandatory, and that there's no political or any other pressure or discrimination to be placed on those who don't want to receive the vaccine. In addition, as the vaccine against coronavirus is not on the list of mandatory vaccines for the Republic of Croatia, there are no obligations or sanctions for refusing vaccination.

Croatian employers are obliged, according to the recommendations of the CNIPH, to finance all the testing of their workers, if necessary. The state pays this only to the health and social care sectors, which HUP considers to be discrimination. HUP therefore sent a request to the competent institutions asking for coronavirus tests be provided to all Croatian employers in an equal way.

"We believe that it's inconceivable and unfair to all other companies to make some sort of difference based on the protection of the health of employees by sector, and by belonging to the public or private sector. All of the above leads to legal uncertainty, and consequently the inability to organise business in a healthy working atmosphere. This situation requires urgent action by state institutions in the form of issuing clear guidelines to employers that would ensure the protection of their workers and the legal operations of Croatian employers during the pandemic,'' they concluded from HUP.

At the time of writing this article, they hadn't yet received answers from the authorities.

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

Saturday, 2 October 2021

Croatian Public Health Institute: Quarantine Shortened, New Rules for Students

October the 2nd, 2021 - The Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) has published a set of new recommendations on its website, in which quarantine periods have been shortened and there have been some new rules made for school children.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the duration of quarantine has now been shortened from 14 back down to 10 days again, and a new recommendation for Croatian students has been introduced. They must now be tested for the novel coronavirus after each absence from school before returning back to class.

Here are the new Croatian Public Health Institute recommendations in full:

- The duration of quarantine for close contacts of patients has been reduced to ten days

- Exemption from the need for testing for persons who have recovered from coronavirus or have been fully vaccinated and who have no symptoms of the disease and have not been in close contact with an infected person has been extended to twelve months

- Healthcare professionals and staff in other institutions who come into contact with vulnerable individuals (groups) who aren't subject to quarantine must be tested by PCR immediately after having close contact with the infected person, on the seventh day after contact and on the fourteenth day after contact, regardless of their vaccination status and whether or not they have previously recovered from an infection.

- Emphasis is now being placed on the need to confirm each rapid antigen test result by PCR test, for administrative reasons, ie obtaining a digital covid confirmation, which does not mean that a positive result of a rapid antigen test isn't considered sufficient to treat a person with COVID-19 in terms of putting them into isolation and processing their contacts.

- A PCR test is recommended as the first choice of diagnostic test if the testing capacities and the specificity of the situation allow for this testing method to be used.

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.

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