Monday, 25 January 2021

Božinović: There Will Be No Major Relaxation of Epidemiological Restrictions

ZAGREB, 25 January, 2021 - The national COVID-19 response team is considering the relaxation of the ban on gatherings as of February 1 but there will be no major relaxing of epidemiological restrictions, the team's head, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said on Monday, ahead of the adoption of a new set of measures.

"There will be no complete lockdown in Croatia as in some other European countries but there won't be any major relaxation of the restrictions either. We need time to see what happens with the new virus strains," Božinović said.

The current restrictions are in force until the end of this week and before they expire, a new set of measures will be made known, with three restrictions regarding commerce, borders and public transportation likely to be extended, while the relaxation of the ban on gatherings is being discussed the most.

"In the current situation, there is not much room for a strategy of major relaxation of the restrictions. The worst thing would be to open something suddenly and then to have to close it down again," he said, noting that statistics on the number of new infections were better and better but that those number were not insignificant.

Future decisions will be impacted by the spread of the new virus strains which have already appeared in Croatia's neigbourhood, by the slowing down of the vaccination process and the fact that we are still in the winter period, he added.

As for plans by cafe and restaurants owners to stage a protest against anti-epidemic measures, Božinović said that protests were a democratic instrument but that he did not know against whom and what they would protest as restrictions had not been introduced with the intention of making someone's life harder.

"We all hope that as the number of new infections declines and vaccination proceeds some kind of normal life will be restored but it is clear that it won't happen tomorrow," he said.

Markotić: We can't be sure mutated viruses are not already in Croatia

The head of Zagreb's Dr Fran Mihaljević hospital for infectious diseases, Alemka Markotić, said that the situation regarding virus mutation was being seriously followed and that one could not be absolutely sure that the mutated viruses had not already appeared in Croatia.

"There are for the time being no hotspots with an extreme increase in the number of new infections, which is an indirect indicator that the mutated virus, even if it has arrived in Croatia, is not replicating significantly. There will be more mutations in the future but they need not necessarily be bad for humans. Mutations more often harm the virus than they increase its contagiousness. The situation will be followed," said Markotić, noting that existing PCR tests can detect the British virus strain.

Capak: Croatia will not engage in bilateral talks with vaccine producers

Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) head Krunoslav Capak said that Croatia was registering a 20% decrease in the number of new infections in the last seven days compared to the week before.

A total of 69,984 persons have been vaccinated and 11,907 have been revaccinated, he said.

For those who need a second shot, vaccination will be postponed for a week due to lack of the vaccine but that will not affect the quality of vaccination or immunity as the second shot can be received up to 42 days after the first one, he said.

He noted that Croatia did not plan to hold bilateral talks with vaccine producers as a common approach had been agreed at EU level but stressed that in the next four weeks Croatia would obtain 14 fewer boxes of the vaccine or 13,650 fewer doses.

Moderna should deliver 4,800 doses on Sunday, and in early February 10,800 doses should arrive for which there is no information that they could be delayed, Capak said.

"AstraZeneca has been instructed by the European Commission today to respect the deadlines and the agreed quantities better, so we hope that after today's videoconference we will receive good news. The first delivery should be in mid-February, of 44,000 doses," he said.

"We are thinking about what to do if small deliveries continue but we believe that larger quantities will arrive. Much of the effort is now directed at making the pharmaceutical industry change the drastic reduction in vaccine deliveries for all EU countries," he said.

So far 284 suspected side-effects have been reported for the Pfizer vaccine, including 16 allergic reactions requiring administration of drugs and two requiring administration of adrenaline.

There have been 10 reports of side-effects for the Moderna vaccine, and the side-effects have all been mild.

The current 14-day incidence in Croatia is 216 new infections per 100,000 people. It is the highest in Sisak-Moslavina County, with 385.6 cases and the lowest in Istria, with 92.9 new infections per 100,000 people.

Monday, 18 January 2021

Božinović: Figures Are Good But We Don't Want to Risk Third Wave of Epidemic

ZAGREB, 18 January, 2021 - The head of the national COVID-19 crisis management  team, Davor Božinović, said on Monday that the despite the fact that the current epidemiological situation was good, they did not want to risk a third wave occurring and that the impact of each measure on the decrease of infections would be assessed.

He stressed he could not specify whether the current measures would be relaxed after 31 January, but until then each existing measure would be evaluated.

Commenting on claims about the introduction of vaccination certificates which could enable citizens to travel, Božinović said there were no formal discussions on them.

"We are currently not considering those options," he said, adding that some countries are thinking about it.

"If there is a joint approach at the EU level, we are going to actively join those talks. At the moment, the quantities of vaccine in the EU and Croatia, and more or less in the entire world, are too small for such decisions to be made. At this moment I think it is too soon," Božinović said.

Capak: 29% fewer new infections compared to previous week

The head of the Croatian Public Health Institute, Krunoslav Capak, said that from 12 to 18 January there had been 29% fewer new infections than in the preceding week, from 5 to 11 January.

The 14-day incidence of 288.9 new cases places Croatia in the 7th place of countries with lowest incidence in the European Union. However, the mortality rate remains high, with Croatia ranking 8th among the EU countries with the highest mortality rate.

Capak said that a new tranche of 17,550 doses of the Pfizer vaccine had been delivered to Croatia today. Part of it will be used to administer the second shot to people who have been vaccinated.

He said that 122 suspected side effects had been reported to date, most of which had been mild side effects but there had also been several more severe allergic reactions.

Capak announced that the next tranche of Moderna's vaccine would be delivered on 25 January - 4,800 doses. He did not agree with reporters' claims that the delivery in the EU was slower than in countries who had negotiated with manufacturers by themselves.

"I hope we will receive sufficient quantities of the vaccine to vaccinate all those interested in our population, which is most important," Capak said.

Capak confirmed claims that Pfizer was reducing the delivery of vaccine doses but that the reason for that was the reconstruction of the vaccine production plant, the goal of which was to increase production and reach the agreed vaccine quotas.

As for Croatia, there is no official confirmation that the delivery of the vaccine will be reduced, he said, adding that as of 15 February the deliveries will be significantly increased.

Markotić: We must remain prudent to avoid third wave of epidemic

The head of the Zagreb Dr Fran Mihaljević Infectious Diseases Hospital, Alemka Markotić, said that the lower number of new infections was reducing the pressure on the hospital system, and that the number of discharged patients had been exceeding the number of admitted patients in recent days.

She underscored that despite that one must not ignore the situation in Europe.

"Some countries are registering a spike that occurred in a short period of time, probably due to the mutated version of the virus," Markotić said, adding that one must be careful to avoid a third wave of the epidemic.

She said that a decision to close the Arena sports hall in Zagreb as a tertiary centre for coronavirus patients had not been made yet, although it was being considered.

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Civil Protection Headquarters: No Easing Measures in Croatia

January 5, 2021 – National Civil Protection Headquarters members presented the news related to coronavirus in Croatia at today's press conference.

In the last 24 hours, 1071 new cases were recorded, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is 5908. Fifty-three people died, of which one 36-year-old who had asthma and obesity. There are currently 17,448 people in self-isolation.

The Croatian Institute of Public Health director, Krunoslav Capak, said that in a week, we have 23 percent positive cases from those tested, and Slovenia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Poland are worse than us.

According to last night's data, 13,798 people were vaccinated, of which 443 were in Sisak-Moslavina County. A total of 1,040 people were vaccinated in Sisak.

No relaxating measures yet

As Index reports, Interior Minister Davor Božinović said that at this point, our numbers are slightly better. However, analyzing our situation and beyond in Europe, Croatia sees something that is already called the third wave of the epidemic.

"Many countries are entering a new lockdown, and we will closely monitor all trends to avoid similar developments in Croatia. We take seriously the experience of easing measures in Europe and the emergence of a new strain of coronavirus discovered in an increasing number of countries. It may appear in Croatia sooner or later," said Božinović.

Alemka Markotić, the Director of the Clinic for Infectious Diseases "Dr. Fran Mihaljević" in Zagreb, said they had not found any associated mutations so far.

"Some samples are still being tested. It is the work of several teams. The analyzes are comprehensive, so we would not like to fly out with half-information. As soon as we get all the necessary information, we will go public with it," said Markotić about the new strain of coronavirus.

Božinović added that they need to pay attention to the effects of earthquakes, Christmas, and the New Year. In that context, they have not yet made a decision, but there are no thoughts about any relaxation of measures yet.

As for local headquarters, Božinović says it is not an option for them to propose easing measures. Passes were revoked due to the known circumstances related to the earthquake, and the Headquarters are not considering reintroducing them.

Vaccination in front of the camera

Today, the National Civil Protection Headquarters members Davor Božinović, Alemka Markotić, and Krunoslav Capak were vaccinated in front of the camera, but not Health Minister Vili Beroš. As he says, he will be vaccinated when his acquired natural immunity drops. Namely, the Health Minister recently overcame the coronavirus himself.

"I was in doubt about what to do myself, and after consulting with the profession, I support vaccination. I will get vaccinated when my acquired natural immunity drops. Seeking extra protection when there is not enough vaccination is not considered ethical, "said Beroš.

As he said, he is not the only one who got over the coronavirus. There are 214,000 people who did. All of them who overcame the disease three to six months ago should not be vaccinated at this time, but when their acquired immunity is degraded.

Beroš also stated that an 82-year-old woman from a nursing home in Čakovec died of a heart attack one day after being vaccinated from coronavirus. Her death has nothing to do with vaccination, the Minister explained. Following the law, the entire event was reported to the Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices HALMED.

"A thousand people die in Croatia every week. When you vaccinate older people because you are trying to protect them from coronavirus, which is very deadly for them, of course, some of them will die. Just before my arrival here, I received information that 13 people died in Europe, and it was proven that it was not related to the vaccine," said Capak.

He added the second phase of vaccination will begin in the second half of January. Minister Božinović emphasized once again that there was still no indication of easing the measures

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

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Bozinovic: 41,100 Applications for Passes Received, 36,000 Rejected

ZAGREB, Dec 23, 2020 - Interior Minister and head of the National Civil Protection Authority, Davor Bozinovic, said on Wednesday that nearly 97,000 applications for e-passes for travel between counties had been received by 10 a.m. and that 41,500 had been approved while slightly fewer than 36,000 had been rejected.

About 20,000 more are waiting to be processed, Bozinovic added at a government session.

Since the last government session,Civil Protection Directorate, State Inspectorate and police inspectors have conducted 19,476 inspections of businesses and public gatherings and issued 318 verbal warnings, with 210 irregularities being removed on the spot, while further action will be taken based on 61 reports concerning violations of measures, Bozinovic said.

Police established, he added, 13 such violations of measures and one criminal offence for violation of measures.

Based on reports from citizens and through regular police work, 204 violations against self-isolation measures have been established, which will result in misdemeanour warrants, and five criminal offences for spreading an infectious disease have been recorded.

Operational services continued setting up containers and tents and they issued 893,600 items of protective equipment (about 100 tonnes) to medical facilities, social welfare institutions and Red Cross Croatia societies. The equipment, Bozinovic said, is being promptly renewed, so there are 710 tonnes of protective equipment in the logistics centre and regional warehouses.

Since the last government session, the national COVID-19 crisis management team has made five decisions, three at the national and two at the county level.

Measures restricting gathering have been extended, and additional necessary measures have been introduced that will be in place until 10 January, so public gatherings are limited to 25 people, while private gatherings are limited to 10 people from two households.

It is also recommended that Masses be broadcast on radio and television, while and on 24 and 25 December they can place in accordance with special recommendations by the Croatian Public Health Institute, Bozinovic recalled.

The restriction on movement between counties will be in force until 8 January 2021.

About 800 police officers will be monitoring the implementation of the measures at about 200 checkpoints, Bozinovic said.

The national COVID-19 crisis management team has also made a decision whereby public transport service providers are required to organise transport until 10 January allowing a maximum of 40% of their capacities to be occupied, and passengers without a protective mask must not be allowed to enter any public vehicle.

Monday, 21 December 2020

Bozinovic: Special Instructions for Orthodox Christmas if Required

ZAGREB, Dec 21, 2020 - The head of the national COVID response team, Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic on Monday said that the government had agreed with Orthodox Church dignitaries that if required, special epidemiological instructions for Orthodox Christmas would be defined in the first week of January.

"As far as Orthodox Christmas is concerned... government representatives contacted Orthodox Church dignitaries and it was agreed that if required, special instructions will be defined in the first week of January, depending on epidemiological developments and the specificities of Orthodox liturgy," Bozinovic said.

He said that by 10 am 1,120 calls, 5,600 e-mails and a total of 10,848 applications had been received related to passes for travel within the country.

Asked whether criminal charges had been filed against the founder of the Index.hr web portal Matija Babic, who called for churches to be burnt down, Bozinovic said that the police were familiar with that post and that they were taking action within their remit.

He recalled that Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butkovic had, in agreement with Prime Minister Andrej Plenovic, made a decision on a 48-hour ban on passenger flights from Great Britain due to the emergence of a new strain of coronavirus in that country.

Monday, 14 December 2020

New Framework of Anti-COVID Measures to be Specified This Week

ZAGREB, Dec 14, 2020 - Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic, who is at the helm of the Croatia's national coronavirus crisis management team, said on Monday that the team would hammer out a new framework of anti-COVID measures this week.

"Intensive talks are underway, consideration is given to everything," the minister told a news conference in Zagreb.

This week some concrete answers will be given to the questions what can be done to make sure that coronavirus numbers start declining, Bozinovic said announcing more precise measures, while answering the question if passes could be expected.

He said that he could understand that all would like to see the predictability of moves.

I must underscore that some countries have announced the easing of the restrictions in this period only to make them stricter. Some countries have announced tougher restrictions but eventually eased them, he said in his comment on predictability.

Friday, 11 December 2020

Current Restrictions to Last Beyond Dec. 21, Minister Says

ZAGREB, Dec 11, 2020 - The head of the national COVID-19 response team, Minister of the Interior Davor Bozinovic, on Friday called on citizens to refrain from visiting their friends and relatives during the coming holidays, noting that the current epidemiological restrictions would be extended beyond December 21.

Even though he announced the extension of the current regime, Bozinovic would not go into details or announce possible new measures, and when asked whether a ban on leaving one's place of residence was being considered, as had been the case in the spring, he said that the public would be informed about possible changes to the current regime on time.

He called on citizens to refrain from visiting people close to them during the coming holiday season.

"Our message for the coming holidays is that, basically, everyone should refrain from socialising and contacting people other than those who are members of their households, and that we should wish all who are dear to us the best for Christmas and the New Year by telephone or a text message," said Bozinovic, noting that there were 1.5 million households in Croatia and that socialising indoors would pose a very high epidemiological risk.

Asked why, for the sake of the nation's mental state, the COVID-19 response team was not announcing in advance when restrictions would be tightened  or relaxed, Bozinovic said that it was difficult to predict a favourable or bad course of the epidemic.

"It would not be good if we issued a message about relaxing restrictions and then had to give up on it if the epidemiological situation does not improve," he said.

Bozinovic said that the impact of all existing restrictions was carefully considered, announcing talks with church officials for this weekend.

He recalled that the new, tighter epidemiological measures for shops and shopping centres would go into force on Saturday.

Friday, 11 December 2020

Germany Donates Vehicles for Croatian Border Police Worth €835K

ZAGREB, Dec 11, 2020 - German Ambassador Robert Klinke on Thursday presented Croatian Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic with a German donation of ten vans and ten other vehicles for the Croatian border police worth €835,000.

"Since 2000, the German Federal Foreign Ministry has donated to Croatian police €3.1 million worth of material and technical means, and we are grateful for that," Bozinovic said, adding that Germany was among those most familiar with the work of the Croatian border police.

He said German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and the German government had publicly said a number of times that they were grateful for everything Croatian police were doing to protect the Croatian border, the EU's longest external order, first and foremost in preventing illegal migrations.

"If Croatian police did not prevent illegal migrations so efficiently, they would spill further into EU territory all the way to Germany," Bozinovic said.

He said statistics indicated that the pressure of illegal migration on Croatia was constant, "clearly showing that this year, despite a two-month calm during the global spring lockdown, the migrant wave has intensified so much that it is now 42% bigger than a year ago."

Ambassador Klinke said the Croatian border, also the EU's external border, was under big migrant pressures, notably the land border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"We are here today to make sure that Croatian police can fulfil their responsible tasks appropriately. We wish to contribute so that Croatian police can move freely on the terrain they work on, and it's very important that they act on their terrain under Croatian, European and international law," he said, wishing for further cooperation on the bilateral front and within the EU.

The donated vehicles will contribute to mobility, effectiveness and terrain coverage in border surveillance, notably on inaccessible terrain and during migrant rescues, the Interior Ministry said, adding that they would also help to curb illegal migration and smuggling.

Friday, 11 December 2020

Croatian and Slovenian Ministers Discuss Border Control, Illegal Migrants

ZAGREB, Dec 11, 2020 - The interior ministers, Davor Bozinovic of Croatia and Ales Hojs of Slovenia, on Thursday held a video meeting on illegal migrants and the protection of border as well as on the regime of cross-border travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Slovenian New Agency STA reported.

The minister agreed on seeking solutions for making it impossible for irregular migrants to cross borders illegally, the STA quoted the Slovenian interior ministry's statement as reading.

They assessed the cooperation between the two ministries and the countries' police forces as good, adding that the operationally and strategically the cooperation has been recently focused on anti-COVID restrictions and illegal border crossings.

The ministers agreed on the preparation of the system for registering information on the entries/departures and refusal of the entry for citizens from third countries, that is non-European Union members, at the Schengen border.

Hojs expressed dissatisfaction with a high number of illegal entries  at the Croatia-Slovenia border, which prompted the Croatian minister to point to a high number of illegal  migrants in Bosnia's areas near its border with Croatia, who are trying to reach destinations in western and northern Europe.

The two ministers pledged to seek a solution to this issue, Slovenia's media utlets reported.

Sunday, 6 December 2020

COVID Inspectors Issue Fines Worth €200K in 10 days, Daily Says

ZAGREB, December 6, 2020 - In the period from November 23 to December 3, State Inspectorate representatives, members of the Civil Protection and police officers carried out 10,130 inspections of business entities and issued 242 warnings, the Jutarnji List daily said on Sunday.

Forty-eight misdemeanor warrants have been issued, totalling HRK 1,440,000, due to failure to comply with the measures, Minister Davor Bozinovic said at the last two government sessions, the daily said.

The value of misdemeanor warrants does not mean that so much money will be paid into the state budget. It will be known how many fines will actually be charged after the final verdicts of misdemeanor judges.

Inspectors, Civil Protection members and police officers have been patrolling shops, hospitality establishments, social and health institutions for months, monitoring the implementation of decisions by the national COVID-19 crisis management team.

According to data from the State Inspectorate, from March 15 to November 29, a total of 12,961 inspections of business entities were conducted.

From March 15 to November 15, tourist inspectors carried out 1,791 inspections of the application of anti-COVID measures in hospitality establishments. It was established that there were 352 violations of the national COVID-19 crisis management team decisions.

Following the introduction of stricter anti-epidemic measures, tourist inspectors carried out 1,129 inspections from October 14 to November 29, and it was established that there were 43 cases of hospitality establishment owners not complying with the measures.

The State Inspectorate said that their sanitary inspectors had carried out 9,600 inspections since the introduction of epidemiological measures, as carried by Jutarnji List.

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