Friday, 12 March 2021

25% of Respondents in Croatia Tested Positive For COVID-19 Antibodies

ZAGREB, 12 March, 2021 - Croatian Public Health Institute director Krunoslav Capak on Friday presented the results of a serological study showing that 25% of 1,436 respondents had tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, meaning that they had been in contact with the coronavirus.

A similar study carried out last spring revealed that only 2.2% of 1,088 respondents were positive for COVID-19 antibodies.

"In the first study, 24 out of 1,088 respondents tested positive for immunoglobulin antibodies, which is 2.2%. In the second study, 360 out of 1,436 respondents were positive for immunoglobulins, which is 25.1%," Capak said at a press conference of the national COVID-19 response team.

"It should be noted that the blood samples were taken in late December, in January and an in early February. No major impact of the vaccination could be seen because only a small number of people were vaccinated at the time. The first study covered a smaller number of counties where we took the blood samples, while the second study covered all the counties," he added.

Antibodies were evenly present in all age groups. Their presence was lower in people aged over 70 years and in children aged under 10, whose proportion of positive cases in the study was 19.2%.

The study also showed that 75% of the persons positive for immunoglobulins were immune to COVID-19.

Capak said that this sample was representative and showed that 25% of people had been in contact with the coronavirus.

"There are 240,000 people in Croatia who have been infected with the coronavirus to date, while four times as many have come into contact with the virus, which is a million people," Capak said.

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

Friday, 5 February 2021

Croatian Public Health Institute Reveals AstraZeneca Vaccination Plan in Croatia

February 5, 2021 - The Croatian Public Health Institute has revealed the details of the AstraZeneca vaccination plan in Croatia. The first vaccinations will begin next week. 

The Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) has announced that the third vaccine against COVID-19 will be available in Croatia next week. It is a vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca/Oxford, and 150,000 doses of this vaccine should arrive in Croatia in February.

AstraZeneca is intended for people over 18 years of age. Two doses of this vaccine are needed, and the second dose should be given between 8 and 12 weeks after the first dose.

“In clinical studies taken into consideration by the European Medicines Agency, vaccine efficacy is about 60% in disease prevention defined by the presence of at least one of the symptoms of the disease with laboratory confirmation of infection.

The estimated efficacy of this vaccine in the elderly is equal to that in younger adults. Still, in the data taken into account by the European Medicines Agency, it did not prove statistically significant, primarily due to the small number of respondents in older age groups," says HZJZ.

HZJZ also explains that the side effects caused by this vaccine are not unexpected and unusual, and "the only real contraindication for use is hypersensitivity to the components of the vaccine."

According to the HZJZ, there is no maximum age limit for the use of this vaccine.

"Based on the available data on clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines registered in Croatia by a centralized procedure (via the European Medicines Agency), there is no reason to make a recommendation for vaccination that would differ from the indications approved by the European Medicines Agency, i.e., the minimum age limit for the use of this vaccine is 18 years. There is no maximum age limit."

Based on additional information about AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, which indicates that:

- it has been shown that a single dose of AstraZeneca vaccine protects about 70% for three weeks after administration and that this protection does not weaken within 12 weeks,
- according to the Summary of Product Characteristics, the recommended interval between the first and second dose is 4 to 12 weeks,
- the final result, i.e., the efficacy after the second dose, is higher when the interval between the first and second doses is greater,

we recommend that the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine be given 8-12 weeks after the first dose," concluded HZJZ.

Illustration by Little Shiva


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

Monday, 21 December 2020

Capak: First Batch of Pfizer Vaccine to Consist of 9,750 Doses

ZAGREB, Dec 21, 2020 - The first batch of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine will be delivered to Croatia on December 26, and the 9,750 doses will be distributed among the counties taking into account the size of their population, Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) director Krunoslav Capak said on Monday.

"A total of 9,750 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be sent to Croatia on December 26. We will try to vaccinate as many people as possible with this symbolic dose," Capak told a press conference of the national COVID-19 response team.

This symbolic first batch will not be enough to vaccinate the whole first priority group of people in Croatia. "The vaccine will primarily be administered to care home residents, some of the emergency medical workers and some of the health workers in COVID centres," Capak said.

Capak noted that Pfizer had pledged to deliver additional supplies on December 31 which would be used to vaccinate the whole first priority group. He said that discussions were under way on the vaccination of the second priority group, including people suffering from chronic diseases and those older than 65 years.

Capak pointed out that 27% fewer new coronavirus infections had been recorded in the week from December 15 to 21 than in the previous week.

Croatia has the third highest 14-day COVID-19 incidence rate and the ninth highest mortality rate in the European Union.

Friday, 18 December 2020

First Small Batch of COVID-19 Vaccine to be Delivered on Dec 26 to Croatia

ZAGREB, Dec 18, 2020 - Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) director Krunoslav Capak said on Friday that Pfizer would dispatch the COVID vaccine to EU member states on December 26 and that Croatia was among the countries that would receive this symbolic quantity.

He added, however, that it was still unknown when Croatia would get the rest of the million doses it ordered.

Capak said the delivery was being discussed with Pfizer at EU level and that the company promised that the tranche for the last quarter of 2020 would be dispatched by the end of January.

We assume will know the quantity by the end of next week, he added.

7 m2 per person in churches on Dec 24, 25

Mass services with more than 25 people will be allowed on December 24 and 25, provided that each person has seven square metres at their disposal, which will ensure a 2.6-metre-distance between them,

Speaking at a press conference of the national COVID-19 response team, he said that before and after those two days the ban on more than 25 people gathering indoors and outdoors would remain in force.

The HZJZ will appeal to the Church and the clergy to make sure that believers comply with the restrictions. Outside churches, a maximum 25 people will be allowed to gather and the recommendation is that all services on Christmas Eve end by 10 p.m.

Asked why bars and restaurants were not allowed to work under the 7 m2 criterion per customer, Capak said the answer was "impossible."

"We keep telling you that, with the measures, we are trying to ban contacts, but without banning the activities which are necessary for economic, psychological, social and other reasons. This measure is tied to respecting believers' wishes and needs for spiritual peace and the need to celebrate this holiday."

Small quantity of COVID-19 vaccine to be delivered on Dec 26Infections have dropped 20% in one week

In the week of December 14-18, Croatia recorded 20% fewer infections than the week before, "for the first time in weeks," but it will take more time for this mild downward trends to be reflected in "the number of hospitalisations, persons on ventilators and deaths," said Capak.

Compared with other EU countries, Croatia continues to have one of the highest incidence rates, ranking third on December 17, after Luxembourg and Lithuania.

Health minister on travel restrictions, bonus for working with COVID patients

Health Minister Vili Beros said travel within the country was being restricted ahead of the upcoming holidays because of asymptomatic patients.

He also responded to complaints from medical staff that this month they did not get the promised salary bonus for working with COVID patients, saying they would get it with the salary for December.

He said some hospitals had calculated the salaries for November before receiving the notification on how to calculate the bonus. "Not one health worker who works with COVID patients will be left without their bonus."

Friday, 11 December 2020

Croatia's COVID-19 Figures are Still High, Says HZJZ Head

ZAGREB, Dec 11, 2020 - Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) director Krunoslav Capak has said that the number of new coronavirus infections is still high, as is incidence, and that more than 50% of employees of care homes and their residents as well as medical workers want to get vaccinated.

"Our figures are still high and they differ from county to county. Varazdin County continues to have the worst statistics, with incidence being almost twice as high as the average incidence in the country," Capak said on Friday at a news conference held by the national COVID-19 response team.

The latest figures show that there are 4,396 new infections out of 11,687 tests. A week ago, on December 4, there were 3,955 infections out of 10,626 tests and a week before that, on November 27, there were 4,080 new cases out of 11,091 tests, said Capak.

The current 14-day incidence for the entire country is 1,183 per 100,000 population, while Varazdin, Medjimurje and Krapina-Zagorje counties have the highest incidence.

Istria, Dubrovnik-Neretva and Pozega-Slavonia counties have much lower incidence rates.

The only other EU country that has a higher incidence than Croatia is Luxembourg, according to Capak.

As for the mortality rate, Croatia is currently 16th in the EU, with a rate of 580.7 per one million inhabitants.

As for the share of positive tests in the total number of tests, in the last 14 days it has been 35.6%, and the total rate so far has been slightly above 23%, Capak said.

Antigen testing in Varazdin County, care homes

Capak also said that rapid antigen testing was underway in Varazdin County, that currently workers of the Calzedonia company were being tested and that of the 339 tests done, 10 had returned positive, which was a rate of less than 3%.

Testing has also started in care homes, and information on that will be provided on a weekly basis, the HZJZ head said.

As for the new criteria of the European Centre for Disease Control, according to which the results of fast antigen tests should be added to the number of confirmed infections as of December 3, Capak said that the ECDC did not pass laws.

He cited the example of Slovakia, where over a period of two weeks, two-thirds of the country's population were tested with rapid antigen tests and those results were not included in official statistics. 38,000 infections were found and daily figures ranged between 2,000 and 3,000, he said.

"Other countries act the same way as well, so this (ECDC criteria) is not a law. For the time being, we are carefully monitoring both sets of figures," Capak said.

Speaking of the relaxation of restrictions, Capak said that it was difficult to predict how the situation would develop, adding that there was no formula to calculate how cold weather and longer stay indoors would affect the figures.

He also stressed that many European counties that had announced relaxation of restrictions and opening of ski resorts had given up on such plans due to the bad epidemiological situation.

More than 50% of residents of care homes, medical workers want to get tested

As for vaccination lists, Capak said that the national COVID-19 team had requested family doctors and the HZJZ to provide them with data relevant for vaccination roll-out planning.

More than 50% of staff and residents of care homes are interested in getting vaccinated, and the situation in similar in health institutions for which data are available, Capak said.

Vaccination will be conducted according to priority, not all medical workers will be vaccinated but those who are in direct contact with COVID-19 patients, notably those exposed to aerosols, said Capak.

As for the storing of vaccines, Capak said that there were no problems with that and that the entire quantity of the Pfizer vaccine can be stored at the Institute of Immunology, KBC Rebro hospital and the Rudjer Boskovic Institute, while county HZJZ branches have additional storage capacity.

Friday, 21 August 2020

COVID-19 Response Team Calls On Young People To Avoid High-Risk Contact

ZAGREB, Aug 21, 2020 - Croatia has registered a record high in daily cases with 265 new infections, which was to be expected given the tourist season, the national COVID-19 response team said on Friday, calling on young people who had been in high-risk situations to avoid contact with others.

The head of the Croatian Public Health Institute, Krunoslav Capak, reiterated that they had introduced measures for night clubs and said that the situation on the ground showed that that had been a good move, but there were some "acts of resourcefulness".

It is not good, he said, that young people are moving from clubs to bars and restaurants which are allowed to work longer. There are also cases of wedding parties being moved from Dalmatia to Herzegovina, he said.

Therefore, the national COVID-19 response team will on Monday meet with local teams to adopt measures that would apply locally and restrict the working hours of facilities and reduce gatherings.

Asked about infections related to the Feast of the Assumption of Mary and the Sinjska Alka tournament, Capak said that there were two people in one continental county who did not know where they had got infected, and they had been to those events, but there were no cases in Split-Dalmatia County related to the events.

He noted that the team had achieved a good balance between opening up in the season and protecting people's health. He believes the measures are good and that most tourists feel safe and hope that the season will continue for a few more days or weeks.

Asked about his statement that the laid-back personality of Dalmatian people was to blame for the latest coronavirus statistics, Capak said that when he had spoken of relaxed behavior he had meant it in a good way, "except during a period of infection when caution is necessary."

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Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Krunoslav Capak: "We are Thinking of Limiting Gatherings from Autumn"

July 28, 2020 - Krunoslav Capak, director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, was a guest on HTV's Dnevnik and said that intensive efforts were being made to limit gatherings from the autumn.

"We hope that the trend will be downward, we have already announced that the last week was downward, although we had a few peaks that bounced back from the average figure. We expect this trend to continue downward. This does not mean that we will have 10 cases tomorrow, but the trend will, in any case, be downward according to our research and model," said Krunoslav Capak on 24 Sata.

Capak says this is a continuation of the first wave or tail of the epidemic.

"We have relaxed measures. Quarantine is excellent because it drastically reduces the transmission of coronavirus infection. However, when we started to relax the measures, the corona was economically and psychologically unsustainable, and with the relaxation of the measures it happened to us that the tail of the epidemic returned and that we have a larger number of infected," said Krunoslav Capak.

"Intensive consideration is being given to limiting gatherings from the autumn"

Krunsolav Capak points out that we have to get used to coexisting with the virus.

"We think that these figures are not excessive; we would like them to be less. We have to get used to the coronavirus being here. We need to learn the new normal; we need to work intensively on reduction. We do not intend to return the quarantine, nor anyone in the world," said Capak.

"Intensive thinking is being done to limit gatherings from the fall. Slovenia has a limit of 50. We had an excellent situation and we wanted to liberate the economy and social circumstances. We will not reduce that number now, but by prescribing stricter measures, by reporting gatherings where there are more than 100 people to the Civil Protection, which are then subject to the supervision of civil protection inspectors, we tried to put things in order," he added.

Measures for the Operation Storm Celebration

"We are in contact with the organizers and there was a meeting today. Definite decisions, figures and ways of maintaining it have not been made, but we have a framework. According to the measures we have prescribed, we hope that this will be a low-risk event. There will be far fewer people and side events, food and drink consumption," Capak said.

Self-isolation and politicians

"When determining self-isolation, it is important for a person to assess the situation. Assess what the nature of the contact was and whether or not there is a risk of transmitting the infection. There are certain circumstances in which a person who is in self-isolation can be allowed to perform a certain activity. Hrebak asked for testing and that finding needs to be analyzed; he got the opinion. I did not tell him to go to the session, but that he was not contagious," said Krunoslav Capak.

Criticism of President Zoran Milanovic on the decisions of the Headquarters

"I'm not a legal expert or a doctor. In the past, whenever there was a danger of infecting other people, we made decisions based on the laws passed by the Parliament. This is also the case with this Law on the Protection of the Population from Infectious Diseases, which was passed in the Parliament, and we are guided by it in making decisions," said Capak.

"The goal of our decisions that we make is to protect the lives of citizens," concluded Capak.

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

Friday, 29 May 2020

Capacity for Indoor and Outdoor Gatherings in Croatia Defined

May 29, 2020 - After the National Civil Protection Headquarters lifted the ban on gatherings of up to 40 people in Croatia, on Thursday, the Croatian Institute of Public Health (CNIPH) specified the maximum numbers.

Therefore, Jutarnji List reports that, based on the recommendations of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, 300 people are allowed indoors, while outdoors, that number has risen to 500. 

Of course, as explained earlier this week, this is due to the favorable epidemiological situation and the small number of active cases, and the minimal or no number of new cases.

Regarding the recommendations, the CNIPH provided brief guidance. Thus, a distance of one and a half meters is recommended, except for people who live in the same household or otherwise socialize. Also, four square meters of space should be counted per person.

Among other recommendations, the CNIPH states that the mouth, nose and eyes should not be touched with the hands, hand disinfection is not mentioned, but indoors, mouth and nose masks should be worn by people who think they could develop more severe forms of the disease if they become infected with COVID-19.

It is not specified which categories of people these are, but considering the previous warnings, this should refer to the elderly, and people with a weaker immune system, i.e., the chronically ill.

Another big announcement on Thursday was that the borders have been fully reopened by Croatia to citizens of no less than ten countries. 

Citizens of Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, and Germany can enter Croatia without restriction. 

“According to our comparative analysis of the epidemiological situation, those are the countries with either similar progress as Croatia or the trends are such that we can adopt such a decision and enable the arrival of those countries’ citizens during the tourist season, with the appropriate epidemiological recommendations and the special application that has already been made,” Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic told his cabinet.

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

Friday, 6 March 2020

Croatian Institute of Public Health Issues Coronavirus Advice in English and Fails

March the 6th, 2020 - The Croatian Institute of Public Health, which is responsible for informing people about the current situation with coronavirus and how you can prevent the spread of the virus, has attempted addressing the masses in English. Now the subject of mockery among translators - it hasn't gone down too well.

Ever since I did the Lost in Translation series, (which you can read here, here, here, here, here... and there are probably more), I've been on the lookout for more linguistic gems. I'm a translator by profession and nothing irritates me more than Google Translate failures (although I'm told it has improved somewhat) and those who simply feel that there is absolutely no need for qualified translators, and that Mr. Google or Zdenka's cousin who lives in Dublin can do the job without fail.

In my industry, you tend to hear one or several of a seemingly automated selection of responses when contacted by a would-be employer. Here they are:

1.) We have had some offers, but they've all been ''too expensive'', so we want to find someone who is ''more within our price range''. 

What this means is that they have contacted translators who have given them perfectly normal prices based on their request and a proper and fair calculation, but since the client has no idea of the ins and outs of translation, they've deemed it too expensive because translation is just something people ''can do'' - right? Wrong. This is usually followed by them trying to get you to lower your price.

2.) We hired ---- who offered to do the job at a discount price but our client wasn't happy and wants it to be done again.

What this means is that they paid ridiculously low rates to someone's friend's cousin's former roommate based on the fact that they can speak a little English and their uncle once lived in America. The translation makes zero sense and only when they've paid dearly do they realise the importance of a native speaker with qualifications.

3.) Can you do the work and have it finished by the end of the day/other impossibly short time period?

What this means is that they have zero idea about what is involved in translation and want you to complete it as soon as possible while they take their time paying you and make all the excuses under the sun along the way because they a) have no idea what translation actually implies and b) because they lack respect for you and/or your profession - possibly a mixture of the two.

The above ''automated responses'' are very common in Croatia and every translator will have come face to face with them at some point or another during their careers. Now and again, you get a large, reputable company who has no issue with your price, your agreed deadline, writing you a legal contract, signing it and actually paying you properly. 

One such company, or institution rather, that you'd expect to hire a competent translator and make absolutely sure that the translation is 100% correct before turning it into a sign is the Croatian Institute of Public Health. 

With the outbreak of coronavirus, or COVID-19, institutions across the globe are working to accurately inform the public of preventative measures they can take to lower their chances of contracting the virus or passing it to others. It's also necessary to inform people just what COVID-19 is, and when to worry and of course when not to.

A friend of mine who shares my love of translation fails sent me this today, and I must say that while the translation isn't terrible by any means, it's just a little bit embarrassing and shameful for the Croatian Institute of Public Health, which needs to be on the ball as a virus that has never before been observed in humans spreads across the globe and as more cases are confirmed here in Croatia.

My first question is just how one can cover their mouth with their elbow? I've tried several times, either I'm awfully inflexible or this simply isn't something a person would instinctively do, ever.

Avoid handling, you say? Handling what exactly? I am inclined to think this means that you should avoid rukovanje (the shaking of hands), which would imply ''close conversation''.

''Kipping'' rooms ventilated is definitely essential and doesn't always sit very well with Croats who are terrified of the dreaded propuh (draught), owing to the belief that it actually causes one to become sick, when in many cases it's the complete opposite. Regardless of propuh, if you want to avoid coronavirus, then kip that room ventilated. 

Avoid larger ''group'' of people? Just the one group, then.

This isn't the world's worst translation by any means and I've seen a lot worse, but come on.

It's one thing when a pub or a bar or some other small, private business makes a little, amusing error, but the Croatian Institute of Public Health has more than enough funds available to it to hire a translator and a proof reader to make sure a very short and simple translation such as this one, about something that is so important, goes out and is placed on signs and official websites smoothly.

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