Thursday, 4 March 2021

Health Minister Beroš: "99 Samples Positive to British, 2 to African, 4 to New York COVID Variants"

ZAGREB, 4 March 2021 - Of 350 COVID samples taken that have been sequenced, 99 are positive to the British, 2 to the African and 4 to the New York variant, Health Minister Vili Beroš said during a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

The Croatian Institute for Public Heath (HZJZ) has sent the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control over the past month 10% of its positive COVID samples for sequencing and so far the results for 350 of about 1,000 samples sent have arrived, explained Beroš.

"In the past two weeks we are again recording an increase in the number of new cases on the week. The number of active cases has increased by 24% on the week. The number of hospitalised patients is still showing a positive trend of a mild decrease, however their number follows the trend of new cases with a certain time delay," underscored Beroš.

A shipment of 318,680 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have arrived in Croatia so far and 242,666 doses have been administered - one dose to 121,330 people and two to 60,668.

A total of 1,210 reports of side effects have been recorded, mostly with mild and transient symptoms.

Božinović: 600 tonnes of coronavirus protective equipment in warehouses

Interior Minister and head of the COVID response team Davor Božinović recalled that the current restrictive measures are in force until 15 March and they include a limited number of people gathering, restrictions at border crossings, special working conditions in stores and in public transport.

He underscored that the logistics centre and regional warehouses currently have 600 tonnes of coronavirus protective equipment available.

He recalled that the border regime was being extended, which means that citizens of countries on the HZJZ special list have to provide a negative PCR test no older than 48 hours to be allowed to enter Croatia and they are obliged to go into 14 days of self-isolation, which can be shortened if another PCR test is conducted on the seventh day at their own cost and it proves to be negative.

Transit passengers are automatically ordered into self-isolation if they don't leave the country within 12 hours.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Health Minister Beroš Calls on Russian Side to Expedite Delivery of Vaccine Documentation

ZAGREB, 3 March, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Wednesday that during his talks with a Russian delegation he had called for expediting the delivery of documentation on the Russian COVID-19 vaccine so that Croatia's HALMED regulator could evaluate the vaccine's safety and efficiency.

"The meeting yesterday with the Russian ambassador does not indicate that we are abandoning the European Commission's common procurement but is rather a sign that we are looking for complementary methods that will be in line with the EC and Croatian regulations," the minister told a news conference.

He said that it was possible to obtain the vaccine without the approval of the European Medicines Agency and that the analysis by HALMED would take some time, but that he was talking about days and weeks, not months.

Yesterday's meeting was held at the proposal of the Russian ambassador, it was pleasant, constructive and friendly and focused on possibilities of obtaining the vaccine, Beroš said.

It was stressed that procuring the vaccine from Russia was a possibility and that it had to be in line with EU and Croatian regulations, Beroš said.

He noted that the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry has sent a note to the Russian Embassy specifying the 11 documents HALMED needed in order to be able to evaluate the safety of the vaccine.

"I thank our Russian friends for their efforts to help us in the fight against the pandemic because vaccination, along with restrictions, is the main weapon in preventing the spread of the infection," he said.

He noted that it had already been said that HALMED could evaluate the efficacy of the vaccine without the approval of the European Medicines Agency if so requested by Croatian health authorities, in order to secure emergency vaccine imports.

"I believe it is a legitimate government effort to ensure for citizens everything that science can offer, but the main criterion must be safety, efficacy and quality," he stressed.

As for the debt to drug wholesalers, which have limited drug deliveries to hospitals because of their debts, Beroš said that it was a problem that had persisted for decades and that it should be dealt with through a reform of the health system as well as talks with drug wholesalers.

He said the government would do its best to secure an unobstructed supply of drugs for citizens and that it would hold talks with drug wholesalers.

The Croatian health system is financially unsustainable and the crisis year 2020 accentuated the negative financial effects due to an increase in health spending as well as the cost of procuring the COVID-19 vaccine, which amounted to more than two billion kuna last year, said Beroš.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Minister Says 28,000 COVID-19 Patients Hospitalised to Date

ZAGREB, 25 February, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Thursday today was one year since the first COVID-19 case was registered in Croatia and that over 28,000 COVID-19 patients had been hospitalised and that a little under 13,000 health workers had been infected.

"The health system was ready for the virus and continued healthcare has been ensured through good reorganisation and adjustment," he said at a cabinet meeting.

"The health system's resilience is also characterised by the ability to plan for and adjust to unplanned circumstances in order to maintain a vital activity. Although occasionally significantly overwhelmed, the health system remained stable and vital functioning was not in danger. That shows the strength of our profession, the medical personnel and organisation."

Beroš went on to say that last year saw a rise in cancer hospitalisations and that this showed the health system's special care for those patients.

251,070 vaccine doses in Croatia to date

Regarding the current epidemiological situation, he said there was a mild increase in new coronavirus cases.

To date 251,070 COVID-19 vaccine doses have arrived in Croatia and 135,756 people have been vaccinated - 77,245 once and 58,511 twice. In Zagreb, 926 older persons and chronic patients have been vaccinated as part of the second vaccination stage.

To date 991 side effects to the vaccines have been reported, mainly mild and passing reactions, Beroš said.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Health Minister Satisfied With Situation at Sisak Hospital

ZAGREB, 15 January, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš on Friday visited the Sisak General Hospital, situated in the earthquake-affected area, saying he was satisfied with the situation there.

Since 5 January, 223 patients have been hospitalised there and 1,927 patients have been examined in the outpatient clinics. "These figures show the will of the staff and director of the hospital to provide adequate medical assistance," Beroš said.

He said that the ministry had contributed to the health system's response in terms of redistribution of patients after the 29 December earthquake, adding that there had been no major problems with the transport of patients to other hospitals.

Beroš said that at today's meeting they had discussed plans for the revitalisation of the Sisak hospital. He said that the provision of healthcare was currently complicated by the fact that the hospital's wards had been moved to three different locations.

"Now is the time after this tragedy to sum things up, determine the further course of action and present the best ideas for this area," the minister said, adding that the government would support such ideas. 

Speaking of the coronavirus situation in the country, Beroš said that the government had decided to keep the current restrictions in place until the end of the month, citing the increased mobility of people, a rising incidence in some countries and the emergence of a new strain of the virus. As for the earthquake-affected area, he said that they had expected a larger number of coronavirus cases but that that had not happened.

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Cakovec Woman, 82, Dies of Heart Attack: Minister Beros - Unrelated to Vaccine

January 5, 2021 – Health Minister Vili Beroš stated that an older woman in Cakovec died of a heart attack the day after receiving the coronavirus vaccine. Beroš said she was negative for coronavirus and her death had nothing to do with the vaccine.

At today's press conference of the National Civil Protection Headquarters, Health Minister Vili Beroš said that an 82-year-old woman from a nursing home in Čakovec died on December 28, 2020, after receiving a coronavirus vaccine the day before. He explained the whole situation.

"After the vaccination on December 27, 2020 between 2 and 4 pm, the lady was checked and was in good condition. The next morning, on December 28, the epidemiologist checked her condition through the head nurse at the nursing home, which was also good. Sometime around 5 pm that day, the lady's clinical condition worsened. An ambulance was called, but the woman died an hour later in the nursing home," said Beroš.

According to the autopsy findings, the patient was negative for coronavirus. She died of cardiac decompensation, i.e., heart failure. The patient was a chronic patient. She had asthma and a probe, a tube that is inserted through the nose for feeding. The patient was lying down and could not walk.

Due to her health condition, especially asthma, the epidemiologist estimated that the person needed to be vaccinated, and she died of a heart attack a day later.

"The Commission in the Ministry of Health has not proven that the cause of death was related to vaccination. Suppose our most vulnerable people are vaccinated, which will sometimes mean patients with high comorbidity. In that case, it is always possible (as has already happened in the world and some neighboring countries) that someone will die without it being related to vaccination," Beroš said.

This event has been reported to the Agency for Medicines and Medical Devices HALMED, as a potential suspicious side effect and will be further evaluated. However, the Commission at the Ministry of Health considers that the patient's death is not related to the coronavirus vaccination.

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Monday, 4 January 2021

Croatia Receives Another 17,550 Doses of COVID Vaccine

ZAGREB, 4 January, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beros said on Monday that an additional 17,550 doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been delivered earlier in the day, and that 12,285 people had been vaccinated since Croatia started administering the vaccines against this infectious disease.

Beros said that a lower number of tests performed in the last few days could be ascribed to the fact that this was the period of Christmas and New Year holidays.

The minister expects more tests to be conducted as of mid-January.

As of the current stringent anti-COVID measures that are in place until 10 January, the minister said that their prolongation would depend on the epidemiological situation.

Croatia has registered 361 new coronavirus cases and 54 infection-related deaths in the last 24 hours, the national coronavirus response team said on Monday.

The number of active cases stands at 5,899 and 2,453 people are receiving hospital treatment, including 196 on ventilators.

With the 54 latest fatalities, the death toll has climbed to 4,126.

Since February 25, when the first case of infection was confirmed in the country, 213,319 people have been infected with the novel virus. A total of 203,294 have recovered, of whom 852 in the last 24 hours. Currently 16,865 people are in self-isolation.

A total of 1,035,076 people have been tested for coronavirus, including 2,985 in the last 24 hours.

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Health Minister for Reorganising, Adapting to New Circumstances After Quake

ZAGREB, 2 January, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beros said on Saturday the ministry's task was to reorganise healthcare in the wider area hit by Tuesday's devastating earthquake, adding that it was necessary to adjust to the new circumstances and transfer patients to hospitals in Zagreb to "receive the adequate assistance."

Speaking to the press while visiting the Sisak General Hospital, which sustained extensive damage, Beros thanked its staff for receiving 32 patients and conducting over 90 checkups since the tremor.

Petrinja hospital temporarily unusable

The minister said "unfortunately... the building of the hospital in Petrinja is temporarily unusable and can't be made functional quickly in any way."

He said enough rapid antigen tests for coronavirus had arrived in the quake-struck area. "Over 1,500 vaccine doses have been ensured. Given that new doses are arriving on a weekly basis, it's certain that we will adapt to the new conditions and that as many doses as necessary will be reallocated for this county."

Beros said he did not expect everyone there to be vaccinated but that he would appeal that as many people as possible did to prevent the epidemic from spreading. He added that it took three to four weeks to acquire immunity, underlining the importance of vaccinating people as soon as possible.

Emergency medical aid containers set up

The minister said containers for emergency medical aid were set up in Petrinja because the local hospital was demolished.

"We are adapting to the circumstances. The ministry has instructed all health centres and family doctors to adapt to the new circumstances," he said, adding that medicines would be delivered to people with chronic diseases who lost their homes.

The director of the Petrinja hospital, Tomislav Dujmenovic, asked the contractors building a new hospital building to resume their work as soon as possible, saying the new building would solve all their problems.

Thursday, 31 December 2020

Beroš: Record Blood Donations Yesterday, Over 1000 Vaccine Doses for Petrinja

December 31, 2020 – Health Minister Vili Beroš commented on the record blood donations collected in Petrova Hospital in Zagreb yesterday and coronavirus vaccine doses sent to the quake-affected area.

As N1 reports, in front of the Dubrava Hospital, where some COVID positive patients arrived from the earthquake-affected area, Health Minister Vili Beroš commented on patients' situation after the earthquake.

Record blood doses after 1995

"This morning, I received information from the Croatian Institute for Transfusion Medicine that yesterday, a record number of blood doses was collected in Zagreb's Petrova Hospital, over 750 doses. The last time we had a similar turnout was August 5, 1995, the beginning of the Storm war operation. This shows the consciousness of the Croatian people," said Beroš.

"From a health point of view, this is a challenge. We want to provide health care to everyone. Given that most health facilities have been severely damaged, I believe we will respond adequately. As much as 90 percent of the Sisak hospital is out of order, so we have to adjust the health system and provide health care to the entire surrounding area," said Beroš.

He pointed out that many health centers are out of order. He also revealed that the Health Ministry sends about a thousand doses of vaccine to the affected area.

'Virus is still here'

"On Saturday, a team of epidemiologists from the Croatian Institute for Public Health will vaccinate all people who are in collective accommodation, emergency workers, and emergency services who are in the area and who will be there for three weeks, including all members of civil protection. Plans exist to adapt to the situation. Epidemiologists will estimate the situation and see how many vaccines are still needed. We are sending more than 1000 doses," said Beroš.

The Minister pointed out that there are enough reserves of protective equipment. He also said that the problem of drug delivery would be solved. Rapid antigen tests are being conducted among nursing home users in the area to find out if there are infections in collective accommodation.

"After the earthquake, Minister Aladrović contacted me. They enabled the accommodation for nursing home users from Petrinja in the Popovača Hospital and other places. There are positive cases among the users, so we are looking for accommodation for them with the county authorities. We still have to stick to measures, masks, distances, disinfection. The virus is still there. These circumstances favor its spread," said Beroš.

The Minister stressed that all health professionals with COVID patients must receive the promised money for the reward.

For more on the Petrinja earthquake, please follow our dedicated section.

Friday, 18 December 2020

Beros: Acquiring Immunity Doesn't Mean That One is Not Infectious to Others

ZAGREB, Dec 18, 2020 - Health Minister Vili Beros on Friday warned that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and people without symptoms can still infect others with coronavirus, underscoring that only vaccination can result in collective immunity. 

"It is important to know that people who have recovered from COVID can still infect other," Beros told a press conference by the national COVID response team when asked how people should act after recovery.

He explained that people who have recovered from COVID obtain immunity which means that they will probably not be ill in the coming period however that does not mean that they won't infect someone else.

"We have to think of others. Wearing masks is of essential importance as is vaccination. In order to obtain herd immunity we have to consider vaccination and protect not just oursevles but others too. Only by our concerted action, can we prevent the spread of this virus and epidemic," he explained.

He underscored the importance of tightening epidemiological measures ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays because of asymptomatic people.

"A certain portion of people who are infected are asymptomatic. They do not know that and they will visit their families, socialise with elderly members and transfer the virus," Beros said, explaining the reason to ban movement during the holidays.

Monday, 14 December 2020

Minister Says Hospital Increasing Capacity to Admit COVID-19 Patients

ZAGREB, Dec 14, 2020 - Health Minister Vili Beros said on Monday that his ministry had sent the KBC Zagreb hospital, the KB Dubrava hospital and the Hospital for Lung Diseases, also in Zagreb, an instruction to urgently take steps to increase their accommodation capacity for COVID-19 patients.

Beros said the instruction was sent in light of the current epidemiological situation and that the three hospitals would also secure additional staff and equipment.

He added that activities related to the reassignment of medical workers and equipment were ongoing, underlining the deployment of additional doctors and nurses to the hospitals in Varazdin and Cakovec.

"At the meeting with epidemiologists on December 11 we analysed the strategy for fast antigen testing in order to put hotpots under control. Today's meeting of the expert group of the COVID-19 response team discussed the need to increase the accommodation capacity of medical institutions and other current problems so as to determine steps to be taken in the coming weeks," Beros said.

He added that the distribution of 100,000 rapid antigen tests from commodity reserves to county institutes of public health had begun and that so far a total of 250,000 had been distributed.

Beros stressed that the number of COVID-19 patients who were being admitted to hospitals had grown mildly compared to last week, as had the number of new patients on ventilators.

"Even though it is resilient and sustainable in terms of organisation, the health system must be protected from maximum strain. Our main goal is to maintain, as long as possible, the centralised treatment of COVID-19 patients, that way we are reducing the possibility of the virus entering more hospitals, which will  make it possible to continue providing regular medical care," said the minister.

He reported that the number of coronavirus infections worldwide had exceeded 72,655,000 and that the number of related fatalities was above 1,619,999.

In Croatia, there are 1,430 active cases among medical workers while 807 are in self-isolation.

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