Saturday, 16 October 2021

Hospitals Need Strong Wall of Anti-epidemic Measures, Says Minister

ZAGREB, 16 Oct, 2021 - Commenting on the coronavirus entering the hospital system and claiming the life of a patient in Rijeka, Health Minister Vili Beroš on Saturday warned again about the importance of strong epidemiological rules in the health system, notably hospitals.

"The case of the patient at the KBC Rijeka hospital shows that there is no 100% safety, that the virus cannot be prevented at all times, and that it cannot be detected at a certain stage of the incubation period," the minister said, stressing that the most important thing was that KBC Rijeka staff had acted appropriately and that epidemiologists had prevented the further spreading of the virus.

Beroš noted that other patients were stable and that "there is no danger of the virus further spreading."

According to media reports, a 76-year-old man, admitted to KBC Rijeka for treatment of the carotid arteries, was negative for coronavirus upon admission, having been vaccinated with two doses, however, five days later he was diagnosed with COVID-19 and died.

Beroš once again called on citizens to get vaccinated, noting that of the 15 latest fatalities, 12 had not been vaccinated.

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Sunday, 25 October 2020

Changes to Way Croatian Epidemiologists Contact Patients and Contacts

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 25th of October, 2020, Sanja Kurecic Filipovic, an epidemiologist from Zagreb and head of the Department for Monitoring Infectious Diseases, spoke about the situation with the spread of the new coronavirus and why Croatian epidemiologists have and will need to continue to alter the way in which they contact newly confirmed patients and their contacts.

She said that in Zagreb they have been waiting for days not only for the test results but also for the testing itself to take place, which isn't a sustainable way of doing things.

''We're working constantly all day and during the night. The capacity stands at 500 samples. That's an average,'' the epidemiologist told RTL.

She said that as a result of the ongoing situation, Croatian epidemiologists were forced to change their current way of contacting patients.

"It's very important to say that we as epidemiologists must change our strategy and the instructions we give people. An epidemiologist won't be able to contact every sick person within 24 hours. We're not going to be able to inform them in 24 hours, let alone talk to them in more detail about anything. We invite them to contact their chosen family doctors (general practitioners). People themselves became aware of the need to contact their contacts. As we're late with contacting patients, we're clearly also late with contacting their contacts,'' she explained.

"Apart from the basic measures, we need to understand the seriousness of this situation and nurture personal responsibility and solidarity. We need to get out of our comfort zones and influence each other. Only together can we defeat this,'' said epidemiologist Sanja Kurecic Filipovic when explaining the ongoing difficulties being faced by Croatian epidemiologists during this unprecedented crisis.

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Monday, 19 October 2020

Epidemiologist Concerned About Croatian Healthcare System Becoming Overloaded

ZAGREB, October 19, 2020 - A member of the government's Scientific Council, epidemiologist Branko Kolaric, has expressed concern about Croatia's healthcare system becoming overloaded due to a surge in the daily number of coronavirus cases.

Speaking in an interview with the public television service HRT on Sunday evening, Kolaric was asked to comment on warnings from the scientific community that there were between 50,000 and 100,000 infected people in Zagreb and that over the next week Croatia might see 2,000 new infections daily, from the current 1,000.

Noting that he did not know what these estimates were based on, Kolaric said that it was possible that the number of daily cases would reach 2,000. "We have come from 500 to 1,000 daily infections and it is not impossible for this number to grow to 2,000," he said.

The epidemiologist said that the present attitude of the public towards the epidemiological measures in place and their adherence to these measures could lead to the public health system overloading. He said it was questionable whether the present measures were enough to reduce the number of new infections, expressing concern that the health system might become overburdened soon.

Today 548 people in Croatia are hospitalised for COVID-19, in neighbouring Slovenia the University Clinical Centre in Ljubljana is almost filled to capacity, while the Czech Republic has agreed with Germany on the possible treatment of its patients in Bavaria and Saxony, it was said.

Speaking of the number of hospitalised cases in Croatia, Kolaric said that the focus now was on COVID-19 cases and that there was less hospital capacity for treatment of other diseases.

Commenting on the interviewer's remark that the measures in place in Croatia were considerably milder than those elsewhere in Europe and whether tighter restrictions could be expected, Kolaric said that such decisions fell within the remit of the national coronavirus response team, but that he believed the measures would have to be tightened.


Health minister calls for more coronavirus testing points in Zagreb

Health Minister Vili Beros has called on the Croatian Public Health Institute, the Fran Mihaljevic Hospital for Infectious Diseases and the Andrija Stampar Teaching Institute for Public Health to urgently organise additional COVID-19 testing points in Zagreb so that people would not have to wait in kilometres-long lines.

"Our aim is to reduce the kilometres-long lines of people waiting to get tested. I am confident that all the competent authorities will find the way and space for additional testing," Beros said on Facebook on Sunday. 

In the last 24 hours, 286 new coronavirus cases have been identified in Zagreb and 830 people have been ordered to self-isolate. Currently, the number of active cases in the city stands at 1,336 and 6,410 people are in self-isolation.

Monday, 31 August 2020

Epidemiologists to Vili Beros: Here Is the List of Our Requests

August 31, 2020 - A few days ago, epidemiologists showed they'd had enough of belittling, endless days, and disrespect for their profession, reports That's why the President of the Croatian Epidemiological Society, Dr. Miroslav Venus, accompanied by three other colleagues, took a list of their requests to the Minister of Health, Dr. Vili Beros.

The proposal of measures for the improvement of the work on the control of the spread of the new coronavirus was published on August the 29th on the Society's website. In addition to most of the 11 requests/proposals, the epidemiologists meticulously wrote a possible solution. They left no room for excuses. In addition, Dr. Venus says that everything that is written is also achievable. Most of this can already be implemented in practice today and make life easier for Croatia's epidemiologists.

Endless questions

After countless requests, and finally warnings, too, the Ministry is first asked to remove their phone numbers from the TV screen.

"Sick people, those who suspect that they've contracted the disease or want a consultation must call an epidemiologist directly. Well, one hundred and three of us spend most of our time answering endless questions from worried people. Their concern is clear, but the answers should be given to them by the service that was abolished today on the number 113," says Dr. Venus on behalf of all of his colleagues.

It would also be good, they suggest, to open up the possibility of communication via SMS.

Since they need help, because the service is not only bursting at the seams but is also threatened with collapse, they suggest that newly graduated doctors who would work under supervision could help them. They also want to enable the redeployment of specialists within the Institute. Underestimating their profession was never clear to them. So, while the Ministry finances specialisations in all fields today, epidemiologists must be paid by the Institute itself. They are looking for a change to this.

Croatia's epidemiologists are aware that the economy can no longer suffer and are proposing a new model for referring people to self-isolation. "The SARS-CoV-2 virus is in local transmission, so the measures of wearing masks, physical distance, hygiene, and disinfection apply to everyone. Only the contacts of those infected should be placed in self-isolation if they are from strategic activities - such as health workers and people working in nursing homes. All other contacts would do their job with precautionary measures in place anyway," the epidemiologists state as a suggestion on how to help the economy, especially small businesses.

They also suggested to Vili Beros that all institutes should have their own testing devices, and they can buy them from decentralised funds that the state has provided to local governments. Most importantly, they require the greater involvement of family doctors in combating the spread of the virus. Family doctors are a sharp thorn in the side of epidemiologists.

"We're looking for their greater involvement, such as enrolling in the platform and checking in on those who are infected. When I enroll them I don't want to take care of them anymore. I leave them to their chosen doctor because new infected people come to me and I have to make time for them at that point. They have a contract with HZZO, let them threaten to terminate the contract and then the problem is solved," said one epidemiologist.

The human factor

"I read somewhere that concessionaires were involved in only 10 percent of activities during the epidemic, as if it doesn't concern them. Clearly I can't generalise though. I told Vili Beros precisely that. Don’t let us convince you that this is impossible. Personally, there are family medicine doctors in our field with whom we have excellent cooperation and those with whom we don't. It all comes down to the human factor. This is too serious of a situation for ‘I'd like to or I'd not like to. I would not like to that much either. I'd also go out and watch football today, but I have to call the contacts of those infected and those who are infected," explained Dr. Venus.

Minister Beros listened to the proposals and immediately called his associates who could look into them and gave them instructions. This is a good sign for Croatia's enfeebled epidemiologists. In doing so, some of the solutions do not require additional time and money. Their implementation can begin from September the 1st. “Family doctors can be immediately warned to increase their engagement,” the epidemiologists suggest.

"All of this doesn't make sense anymore. People, let's get serious. We feel like we've drawn the short straw here, we've been second-class citizens for months because someone protests whatever we do," complained Dr. Venus.

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Monday, 17 August 2020

Epidemiologist: Getting Pupils Back To School Poses No Heightened Risk

ZAGREB, Aug 17, 2020 - The head of Zagreb's Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Alemka Mrkotic, said on Sunday that getting children back to school at the start of the new school year this September would pose no heightened health risk.

Markotic told the national broadcaster HRT that the examples of the countries that kept schools open also during the peak of the epidemic of coronavirus proved that.

She said that pupils with respiratory infections should be kept at home.

As for the current COVID-19 infection numbers, the epidemiologist admitted that those figures would be considered a serious issue if they had appeared in winter. 

Furthermore, 90% of those who have now caught the virus do not need hospital treatment and a mere 1% of these cases are on ventilators, Markotic said calling for taking the whole situation into consideration rather than focusing only on the new cases' statistics.

Friday, 14 August 2020

Medical Chamber: There Are Few Epidemiologists, They Shouldn't Do Administrative Work

ZAGREB, Aug 14, 2020 - Croatian Medical Chamber president Kresimir Luetic has said that Croatia has relatively few epidemiologists, 150, and that due to the scope of their work and their role in the fight against the coronavirus, it is necessary to relieve the burden of administrative work on them.

"We have been dealing with this crisis for five months, and of the 15,000 active doctors in the country epidemiologists have been working under a special regime during that period. Croatia has relatively few epidemiologists, 150, and several dozen interns who have chosen epidemiology for their specialisation. Compared to the extent of the epidemic, that is not an optimal number," Luetic told the N1 broadcaster on Friday.

He also noted that epidemiologists should be supported as much as possible and that the burden of administrative work on them should be relieved.

Commenting on the latest surge in the number of new COVID-19 infections, Luetic said that he was surprised by the latest figures about 180 new infections.

He said, however, that responsibility for the latest statistics rested with everyone and could not be shifted to any specific institution, and called for responsible behaviour.

Monday, 20 July 2020

Epidemiologist: Lower Number of Infections Due to Use of Protective Masks

ZAGREB, July 20, 2020 - The head of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, said on Monday that the latest figures showing 25 COVID positive cases as against threefold higher numbers in the previous days were the result of the mandatory use of face masks.

In the last 24 hours, of 1,028 COVID-19 tests performed in Croatia, 25 have returned positive, the country's coronavirus crisis management team stated on Monday. Currently, there are 1,150 active cases, 57 fewer than the day before.

By comparison, there were 92 new cases on Sunday and 116 on Saturday.

Asked by the press about the decision by Lithuania to place Croatia on the red list of epidemiologically unsafe countries, which means that people travelling to the Baltic country from Croatia would have to self-isolate for 14 days, Capak said that the European Commission had recommended the opening of borders and imposition of criteria for free passage in accordance with epidemiological situations.

The criterion is that there are no more than 16 new patients per 100,000 inhabitants in the past 14 consecutive days.

Some countries have introduced stricter measures and some have applied milder measures, he explained, adding that it might be that Croatia has exceeded the 14-day incidence which was why Lithuania placed Croatia on the red list.

Capak said that new recommendations for organising cultural events could be announced on Tuesday.

Health Minister Vili Beros said that cheaper prices for COVID-19 tests, when taken by individuals on their own, could be expected later this week after the Croatian Health Insurance Agency (HZZO) approved lower prices last Friday, whereby they were halved to HRK 500-700 per test.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Capak Says Ostojic Belittling Epidemiologists By Self-Isolating On His Own

ZAGREB, June 27, 2020 - Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) head Krunoslav Capak has said that people infected with coronavirus are now observed to have milder symptoms, which is still not proof that the virus has grown weaker, and that by self-isolating SDP official Rajko Ostojic has shown disrespect for epidemiologists.

"We have been observing somewhat milder clinical presentations," Capak told the N1 broadcaster on Saturday, adding that he had heard from epidemiologists in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Slovenia that people infected with the virus in those countries now had mild symptoms and that many did not have any.

He noted, however, that it was still too early to say that the virus had grown weaker before the research was done on a larger number of people.

The average patient now is on average 20 years younger than the average patient in March, which is mostly due to the fact that younger people have travelled to neighbouring countries and a large number of infections have been contracted in night clubs, he said.

Epidemiologists should decide if someone is at risk of catching the disease

Commenting on Social Democratic Party (SDP) vice-president Rajko Ostojic going into self-isolation on his own following contact with a party colleague who has tested positive for COVID-19, Capak said that with his actions and statements for the media Ostojic was humiliating epidemiologists.

"Ostojic is a gastroenterologist, we do not interfere in his diagnostics and treatment options, so he, too, should stay out of epidemiologists' work," he said.

Capak recalled that epidemiologists had assessed that Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic did not have to self-isolate after a brief encounter of fewer than three minutes and without close contact with Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, at a tournament in Zadar last weekend.

Capak also said that there was no need for Plenkovic to get tested again as he had not been in close contact with Djokovic.