Tuesday, 26 July 2022

Will Autumn Greet Us Without Any Croatian Epidemiological Measures?

July the 26th, 2022 - Will we be able to enter the first autumn in two years without any Croatian epidemiological measures? As the height of a scorching summer reaches its peak, questions are being asked.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the temperatures are becoming intolerable for many, and air conditioning units are working hard. The outbreak of the coronavirus infection at a time when we're still far from colder days, darker nights and spending more time indoors, is not at all encouraging. Due to the sudden increase in the number of coronavirus patients, neighbouring Slovenia is introducing restrictions on visits to hospitals, and it is once again insisting on the wearing of protective masks in healthcare institutions. Here in Croatia, so far, there are no indications to suggest there might be an introduction of new protective measures against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) is not preparing any special Croatian epidemiological measures because - as they say - they already now have enough experience to deal with new waves of the pandemic should they occur.

"Given that we already have various sorts of experiences with it now, we'll only apply certain experiences if we judge that it is necessary. We all hope that the measures will not be reactivated, but we can't say that for sure in advance,'' epidemiologist Iva Pem Novosel told Novi list. Everything, she added, will depend on the mass of the number of patients, and the level of intensity of the spread of the infection in the coming months. If there is a sudden increase in the number of new cases, it will be necessary to think about reintroducing some measures, but not as strict as those we've come to hate to remember.

"We'd all honestly like to avoid introducing any Croatian epidemiological measures, but it's difficult for us to give forecasts at this moment in time. It's likely that there will be a stronger increase in cases, but it all depends on the appearance of new variants, which we can't know about in advance. We don't like to make forecasts because we can easily make mistakes. It's true that in autumn, with the cooling of the weather, and due to the very nature of the spread of the coronavirus, sees an increase in intensity, as is the case with other respiratory viruses. Nobody can say what that increase is going to look like. That really cannot be known in advance," Pem Novosel repeated.

Although we have been living without any Croatian epidemiological measures for some time now, and we've already somewhat forgotten them, the fact is that almost on a daily basis we're hearing about someone we know, or someone they know, unwell with omicron. No matter how much we want to forget it, the virus is still very much thriving in and around us. Epidemiologists are fully aware of this, but they don't expect anything drastic to occur.

"The situation really is monitored on a daily basis. We hope it won't escalate before September, but omicron is highly contagious. We're lucky that people are getting together a bit less. There's now no school, people are off on holiday, so people have dispersed, and therefore the chance of spreading omicron is lower. As for autumn, we can't say yet. If we are ready for anything, then we're ready for things to get worse if they do go that way. We hope that we won't be surprised by something unprecedented. It just depends on the scenario. If it stays like this, then we expect that hospitals will not be overloaded and there will be no need to introduce any new Croatian epidemiological measures, maybe only mild ones, and if some fiercely contagious variant emerges that would cause a very large increase in the number of new infections, then we'll think about it all more seriously.

"You never know what's waiting around the corner, but we don't expect any dramatic situations to unfold,'' she concluded.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Constitution Committee Asks Gov't to Verify Signatures for COVID Referendum

ZAGREB, 3 Feb 2022 - The parliamentary Committee on the Constitution and Standing Orders on Thursday asked the government to verify the signatures collected for two referendum petitions by the opposition Bridge party and notify parliament.

The committee also asked the government to check if the signatures were collected in line with the valid Referendum Act.

The committee accepted Bridge president Božo Petrov's motion to include at least two representatives of each initiative in the signature counting.

One petition was for abolishing COVID certificates and the other for abolishing the national COVID crisis management team.

The committee did not accept a proposal to define a deadline for counting the signatures.

A reasonable deadline would be at least as long as it took Bridge to count the signatures, which is 30 days, Petrov had said.

The opposition was for tasking the State Electoral Commission with verifying the signatures as an independent body.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Minister Says Self-testing of Students to Be Conducted in Three Stages

ZAGREB, 3 Feb 2022 - Science and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs said on Thursday that the self-testing of students would start once the Buffer Stock Directorate delivered tests to schools, and that testing would be conducted in three stages, after which they would hopefully no longer be necessary. 

Parents will test their children for coronavirus voluntarily on Mondays, and if a positive case is identified in a class, testing will be done again and students who test negative will continue attending face-to-face classes.

We assume parents will not cheat because the purpose of this measure is to make it possible for as many children as possible to continue attending physical classes, Fuchs said, recalling that entire classes had to go online just because a few students were positive.

The testing will be conducted for a month, and if everything is as we plan it to be, we will switch to testing only in those classes where a positive case is identified, the minister said.

The third stage is the cancellation of self-testing, he said, expressing hope that eventually it would be possible to abolish the mandatory wearing of face masks in schools.

The Buffer Stock Directorate will today open bids for the procurement of tests and the beginning of self-testing will depend on when schools are supplied with the tests, the minister said, adding that he would talk to school principals via video link today and that the Croatian Public Health Institute had prepared instructions for parents.

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.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

MPs Divided on COVID Certificates

ZAGREB, 3 Feb 2022 - Ahead of a parliamentary debate on a government report on the effects of epidemiological measures taken to fight coronavirus between 1 September and the end of December 2021, the issue of COVID certificates divided the parliamentary majority and opposition deputies.

Opposition deputies stressed that the introduction of those certificates was the worst decision in the two years of the pandemic and that they should be abolished while the ruling HDZ insisted the certificates had to be kept.

Abolishing the certificates would leave us within our borders, and we want to be European citizens and travel, said HDZ MP Maja Grba Bujević.

Let us abolish the certificates, a discriminatory measure that we cannot afford anyway, and that has proven ineffective and costs the economy too much. Money for testing could be used in a much better way, said Bridge MP Marija Selak Raspudić.

Marijan Pavliček of the Croatian Sovereignists said that a number of contradictory and futile decisions had been made in the past two years, with the one on the introduction of certificates being the worst.

Pavliček as well as Stephen Nikola Bartulica (Homeland Movement) criticized plans to test school children.

"By introducing testing you are putting pressure on children and parents, the more so as children get infected less and have milder symptoms," Pavliček said.

SDP: We need clear leadership, clear measures

Social Democratic Party (SDP) MP Peđa Grbin expressed hope the Omicron variant was the light at the end of the tunnel.

Now that we see the light at the end of the tunnel, we need clear leadership and clear measures so that we do not make a mistake on the path on which we have often wondered, he said.

Ivana Kekin of the Green-Left Bloc said that since the end of October Croatia had lost more than 5,000 people to COVID, describing that as tragic.

We are ninth in the world in terms of the number of COVID fatalities, we have the highest death rate when it comes to deaths caused by the Omicron variant, in January we lost 1,800 people and 80% of them were not vaccinated, she said, wondering who would assume responsibility - the COVID-19 response team, the health minister or the prime minister.

Answering to opposition criticisms, HDZ MP Grba Bujević said wise and well-thought-out measures were taken.

One should not just look at the figures but at a number of other elements as well. The government and the state invested a lot of effort to procure the vaccine, which is free, the health system did not collapse even though some said it would, and free testing is available, she said.

For more, check out our politics section.

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, 28 January 2022

COVID-19 Team Head Says Shortening of Self-isolation Being Considered But...

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović, who heads the national COVID-19 response team, said on Friday that the team was considering shortening the period of self-isolation but that the current wave of the epidemic had still not reached its peak.

"Considering the still high numbers of new infections, we cannot say that the epidemic has reached its climax, especially when compared to other countries," Božinović told reporters at an event at which 28 vehicles for traffic police were handed over at the Police Academy.

Božinović said that one should be optimistic regarding the spring and hope that a new variant of the coronavirus would not emerge.

Commenting on the recommendation by the European Commission on shortening the validity of COVID certificates for citizens vaccinated with two doses, he said that the certificates could be issued under rules applicable to all 27 EU members.

"We must issue certificates as regulated by the EU, otherwise you are not able to cross the border. That also means shorter validity for two doses and recovery," he said, adding that a solution would be sought not to change anything for Croatian citizens.

A number of countries have shortened self-isolation to five days

Commenting on the possibility of shortening the period of quarantine, Božinović said that an important meeting would be held on Saturday between the national COVID-19 response team and representatives of the "Dr Andrija Štampar" public health institute.

"There is room for arranging things differently at the national level. Intensive talks are underway and confirmation is expected on Saturday," he said.

He added that one was considering shortening the period of self-isolation because research increasingly justifies it.

A number of countries have shortened the period of isolation to five days so as not to jeopardise their public services and the functioning of the state, he said, adding that his department did not have problems with labour shortages due to self-isolation and sick leave.

"We are not at risk but we have been thinking about it," he said.

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.

Thursday, 27 January 2022

Croatia To Extend COVID Protocols Until February's End

ZAGREB, 27 Jan 2022 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović, who is at the helm of Croatia's COVID-19 crisis management team, said on Thursday that current COVID protocols would remain effective until the end of February if no changes happened in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.

"In the next few days, the crisis management team will consider the protocols on public gatherings, public transport, shopping, protective mask mandate, and cross-border protocols, and they are likely to remain in force until the end of February," Božinović told the government.

Health Minister Vili Beroš said that the PCR tests conducted in the last 24 hours had detected 10,500 new cases, plus 6,375 cases detected by rapid antigen tests, however, the daily caseload is 3.5% smaller than seven days ago.

There are 2,006 hospitalized patients today, 30 more than yesterday, and 185 are on ventilators, seven fewer than yesterday, he said.

Hospital admission numbers are rising mildly but not in proportion to the number of new infections, he said.

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.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Beroš: COVID Restrictions Not to Be Lifted for Now Given Low Vaccination Rate

ZAGREB, 20 Jan 2022 - Due to its low vaccination rate, Croatia, for now, cannot consider lifting some of the COVID restrictions, and medical professionals continue to recommend compliance with the epidemiological measures in place to contain the virus, Health Minister Vili Beroš said at a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

He was commenting on plans by countries such as the United Kingdom and Israel, which have high vaccination rates, to lift the restrictions and the COVID pass mandate. He warned that in Croatia, a considerable number of people aged 75 and over were unvaccinated.

Despite the surge in the number of new infections, for now, there has been no increase in the number of COVID hospitalizations, so health care is also available to non-COVID patients, the health minister said.

"Today, 1,792 infected persons are being treated in hospitals, four fewer than yesterday. The COVID bed occupancy rate is 53.4 percent, which allows for other patients to be provided with the necessary health care as well," Beroš said.

Croatia today registered a record 17,489 new COVID cases, with the PCR test positivity rate reaching 51.44 percent and the rapid antigen test positivity rate 18.82 percent. The number of COVID patients on ventilators today is 195, nine fewer than on Wednesday. 

Beroš said that 18.63 percent of the total population had received an additional vaccine dose.

He noted that people being admitted to hospitals with the Omicron variant of the virus were mostly elderly and unvaccinated with other underlying conditions.

He said that the latest data published by the European Medicines Agency showed that mRNA COVID vaccines were safe during pregnancy.

The head of the national COVID response team, Interior Minister Davor Božinović, said that the travel ban on arrivals from South Africa and other African countries where the Omicron variant first appeared had been lifted given that this variant has become dominant in Croatia and Europe.

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.

Monday, 10 January 2022

New COVID-19 Restrictions Take Effect as of Tuesday

ZAGREB, 10 Jan 2022 - The national COVID-19 crisis management team on Monday published tighter restrictions against COVID-19 on its website, and those tighter rules will be effective as of Tuesday.

The restrictions cap public gatherings at 50 in case of open-air events, and in the event that participants have COVID certificates the maximum number could be 200 if local response teams okay them.

Indoor private social gatherings are capped at 25. There can be a maximum of 50 persons at the site of private gatherings provided that all of them have COVID certificates.

Hospitality establishments can operate without any new restrictions, however, they can expect more frequent inspections and controls of the number of patrons. Checks will be stepped up to monitor compliance with the restriction on the number of guests, as well as with the requirements to maintain a physical distance of 1.5 meters, to use masks when not at the table, and to air and clean the establishment.

A limit on the number of spectators at sports events is imposed, so they will be allowed to fill up a maximum of 20% of an individual grandstand for an indoor event, that is 40% for an outdoor event.

It is mandatory to wear masks at religious and art events, film screenings and exhibitions, as well as sessions of representative bodies.

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, 7 January 2022

Mandatory Masks in Croatian Schools from 5th Grade Onwards

January 7, 2022 - Minister of Science and Education Radovan Fuchs spoke at a press conference and reaffirmed the return to school classes in Croatia from this Monday. He also added that there will be mandatory masks in Croatian schools for those in fifth grade and up, among other considerations.

"You can see that, as the Government has insisted that school classes in Croatia be given in person, we have reduced online teaching to a minimum. Despite its necessity, virtual classes have their downsides, even if it was made with the highest standards for which we received a lot of recognition," he said. He added that this is not a happy solution for the education of children and young people, especially given the other negative consequences of online teaching, such as isolation, which affects the development of students.

“Based on this, and in an effort to provide proper education in this time and moment, we strive to keep it in person, which has proven to be good,” he said. “Decisions on an eventual transition to online teaching are made on a regional level in cooperation with the Ministry. At this moment, we do not have an announcement from any county to think about it, thus everything will start normally from Monday", he said.

He added that exceptions are only possible in some schools with unavailable staff due to the omicron variant. "At the moment we have information about a school in a small town, where they have a shortened staff due to the epidemiological situation", he said.

Speaking about the measures in schools, Fuchs said that the same measures from November remain in force: mandatory masks in Croatian schools for students from 5th grade onwards, regardless of the space and distance. "In earlier grades, the distance is two meters or one and a half meters, and therefore the use of masks has been abolished. Children from first to fourth grade are in this group.''

In the end, he said that the vaccination of teachers has significantly improved. "Our average is about 70.1 or 71 percent. Again, in scientific institutes, it is almost 90 percent of the higher education system, 84-85 percent in secondary schools and 70.3 or 70 percent in primary schools'', he concluded.

Source: Telegram.hr

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

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.

Thursday, 6 January 2022

Epidemiological Measures to Be Tightened After Record Number of Cases

January 6, 2021 - A record 8,587 new cases of coronavirus infection were recorded in Croatia yesterday, and 32 people died. A tightening of current epidemiological measures is expected throughout the country.

After the worst day of the infection, stricter epidemiological measures could be introduced throughout Croatia, such as limiting the work of cafes to 10 pm and canceling gatherings with a larger number of participants, reports Net.hr.

In Croatia, yesterday's record number of positives among those tested, more precisely 8,587 newly infected among 18,689 tested, confirms the virus has been unleashed in another difficult stage of the pandemic. But despite the large numbers, some believe that "omicron is the way out of the pandemic through collective immunity", and thus stricter epidemiological measures are not necessary; something which scientists, disagree with.

The pressure of coastal counties to introduce new stricter measures to at least reduce the rate of coronavirus spread is still strong because, for example, in Split-Dalmatia County, the number of infected among those tested has already exceeded 60 percent and testing capacity is too low, and it records an increasing number of hospitalized and patients on respirators.

With more than 9000 new cases unofficially confirmed today, the Headquarters could introduce some new measures, which would primarily mean shortening the work of cafes until 10 pm and canceling gatherings with many participants until further notice.

The measures will apply to the whole country, not just the coast, probably because the numbers are on the rise in all counties. The proposal to use covid certificates more extensively has not passed so far, although it has long been a routine, for example, in cafes in countries where the vaccination of citizens is much higher than in Croatia.

The latest research by British scientists from the University of East Anglia confirms that hesitation with the introduction of stricter measures in Croatia could result in severe consequences for the health of citizens.

They claim that weak epidemiological measures at the time of virus spread and poor vaccination pose a high risk for vulnerable groups, especially those who must not be vaccinated for some health reason or cannot gain immunity due to their health condition such as those with compromised immune systems.

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.


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