Thursday, 28 July 2022

HZJZ Warns of New Coronavirus Wave in Croatia, Peak Infections Expected in August

July 28, 2022 - A new coronavirus wave in Croatia is expected to peak in August, according to the Croatian Public Health Institute. 

Croatia is under attack by a new wave of highly contagious coronavirus subvariants, which have increased the proportion of positives among those tested to as much as 30 percent. According to the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ), the number of new cases daily has exceeded a thousand.

Subvariants of omicrons BA.2 and BA.4, and BA.5 are now circulating in the region; middle-aged citizens, from 30 to 69 years of age, are most exposed, while children are less infected because there are no classes.

A new wave of infections in Croatia began at the end of June when an increased share of positives in the total tested was recorded. The city of Zagreb, Split-Dalmatia, and Primorje-Gorski Kotar counties have the most infections, while the most favorable situation is in the Virovitica-Podravina County, which has only three new infections.

In the last week, an increase in the number of hospitalizations and deaths was also noticeable, but this did not increase the interest in vaccination, so only 300 to 400 people are vaccinated daily, and less than 50 with the first dose in the entire country.

Citizens may wait for a new bivariate vaccine containing both the Wuhan and the omicron components. The European regulatory agency EMA could approve it at the end of August and the beginning of September at the earliest.

When asked about the possibility of re-introducing covid-certificates in the fall, the HZJZ replied that, according to their knowledge, there are no plans to re-introduce covid-certificates in the fall or winter at the moment.

Although some European countries have passed the peak of new infections, Croatia is still in the upward phase. The peak is expected in August, given the experience so far, which shows that the wave of infection lasts for several weeks.

All sick people, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated, must be isolated for seven to ten days, with the possibility of earlier termination in the case of testing on the fifth day from the beginning of the infection at the earliest.

The measure of quarantine or self-isolation is not mandatory for close contacts of positive persons, they should wear a mask for ten days after the last contact, and self-testing is also recommended.

Although a public controversy has recently developed about how well masks even protect against new variants of the virus, the HZJZ points out that, along with respecting physical distance, they are still the basis of preventing the spread of droplet infections.

"Only the use of masks is the domain of each individual's responsibility and awareness," notes the Institute for Public Health.

They emphasize the importance of vaccination again. The vaccine, they say, may not protect so effectively against the infection itself, given the high infectivity of the new omicron subvariants that are now circulating in our area. However, it still largely protects against more severe forms of the disease, hospitalization, and death.

A second booster is currently recommended for people over 80 and over 65 in nursing homes, at least four months after receiving the first booster. For this purpose, an mRNA vaccine (Comirnaty or Spikevax) is used. Also, a second booster vaccination is recommended for people with an increased risk of developing severe forms of covid and who were primarily vaccinated and boostered with the Janssen vaccine. The mRNA vaccine (Comirnaty or Spikevax) is recommended for the second vaccination.

According to HZJZ statistics, 57.76 percent of the total population in Croatia has completed vaccination, 23.26 percent received an additional (booster, third) dose, while 2,014 people received a second booster (so-called fourth) dose.

So far, 8,839,440 doses of the covid vaccine have arrived, and a total of 5,263,284 doses have been used. In addition, 1,335,780 doses are kept at the central warehouse, most Pfizer, of which 1,035,480 doses remain. In addition, there are 165,200 doses of Moderna vaccine, 96,000 doses of Novavax, and 39,100 doses of Janssen.

The expiration date for 28,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine expires this month, for 4,100 doses in August, and for 3,800 doses in September. The HZJZ notes that they expect the EMA to extend the shelf life of Moderna's vaccine from 9 to 12 months.

Estimates say that around 200 kg of vaccines will need to be destroyed, mostly Moderna and AstraZeneca. The cost of destruction per kilogram is HRK 12.50, including VAT, around HRK 2,500, according to the Institute of Public Health.

Croatia has so far donated 1,958,120 doses, including COVAX donations. Outside the COVAX system, the most were donated to Iran, BiH, North Macedonia, and Rwanda. As part of COVAX donations, most of them were donated to Egypt, Indonesia, Tajikistan, and Pakistan. As a rule, the donation does not imply a refund to the country that donates the vaccine.

Source: Jutarnji List

For more on the news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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.

Friday, 11 February 2022

Student Self-Testing Video Published by Croatian Public Health Institute

February 11, 2022 - The Croatian Public Health Institute has released a student self-testing video with instructions on the simple 4-step process. 

The Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) released a video with instructions for student self-testing, which is carried out in four main steps, reports 24 Sata.

The goal of student self-testing is to increase the probability of holding classes in person, on the school premises, for as long as possible by abolishing self-isolation measures (quarantine).

"An additional goal is to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 in school and the family. The regular self-testing measure is voluntary. However, for its successful and effective implementation, it is important that as many students as possible participate in regular self-testing," says the Croatian Public Health Institute.


Self-testing is conducted in four main steps:

1. Read the instructions for use and wash your hands.

2. Take a test sample.

3. Conduct testing.

4. Find out the result in 15-20 minutes.

What if the result is positive, and what if it is negative?

- negative result - the student goes to school,

- positive result - the student stays at home, reports to the doctor and the school.

Recall, on February 9, the Ministry of Science and Education sent instructions to principals regarding student self-testing in Croatia. reported that the Civil Protection Headquarters would deliver rapid antigen tests to schools, after which the schools distribute the tests to parents or guardians or students. Testing is conducted once a week by a parent, guardian, or student. If the test result is positive, information about the positive test is reported to the educational institution's selected family doctor or pediatrician.

All students with a negative result continue to attend classes regularly, and if they test positive, they do not come to school. Testing is repeated for the entire class in which positive test results are determined the first day after a student receives a positive Covid test.

Minister of Science and Education Radovan Fuchs commented on student self-testing in an interview with HRT, confirming that the distribution of tests had begun.

Fuchs called the process of rapid antigen testing "a de facto process of abolishing self-isolation for students so that all those who are not ill are in school." However, he also said that this was not a step towards mandatory testing or vaccination.

Fuchs said the first part of the tests, about 300,000, went to Dalmatia on February 8.

"Of course, we are going to the islands as a priority, as it is a bit more challenging to distribute there, and that's why we went to the Dalmatian regions first.

The rest, up to a million, were expected to arrive at civil protection warehouses on February 9, and the moment these tests were received, they immediately moved on to schools. So I think by the end of the week or early next week, all schools will have tests available," Fuchs said a few days ago.

“We have said that this student testing is voluntary and that parents will declare in one piece of paper whether or not they will conduct testing of their child,” he said.

"All those who refuse, nothing will happen to them, nor the children, of course, except that the moment a positive student appears in the class, or possibly someone from that child's environment becomes ill, that child will have to go into isolation," Fuchs said.

He also said that these tests are very similar to those that can be bought in pharmacies and that, unlike PCR, it is not inserted deep into the nose with a test cotton swab or stick. Still, a swab is taken from the front of the nasal cavity, and it is a straightforward procedure.

Fuchs also said that parents who will not test their children and say that they were negative would not be traced because they do not intend to apply any repressive measures.

“I hope the parents are responsible enough and won’t cheat because this is done so that the education system would virtually abolish self-isolation using a self-testing system,” he said. 

Fuchs also said that if the number of positive results dropped significantly, in February, they would switch to the testing variant only in those classes when it is ordered. After that, it would be ordered when a positive case occurs.

"And after that, we would go for the complete abolition of both testing and self-isolation if the data from the field justify it," Fuchs said. He also said that they did not consider testing children in kindergartens.

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.

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

HZJZ: Protests Against COVID Rules Just Put Pressure on Health Workers

ZAGREB, 1 Feb 2022 - Ahead of protests against COVID rules to be held on Tuesday outside public health institutes around the country, officials from the national institute have said the protestors are just feigning care for the health of children and are in fact just putting pressure on health care workers.

"These undeclared organisers are just feigning care for children and their health and in fact are just using them as an instrument to achieve some other objectives they consider to be important," officials from the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) said.

HZJZ said that the protests, which have been announced via social media by the "Free together" group, would just put pressure on healthcare workers and epidemiologists who have been doing their job in the best of faith for the last two years, adding that their recommendations are based on scientific evidence of the need for vaccination against coronavirus, in particular of the elderly.

“Protests, swearing, threats and everything else associated with that will not resolve the problems we have all been faced with during this epidemic," the HZJZ officials said.

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

HZJZ Shortens Quarantine for All Close Contacts of COVID-19 Patients to 7 Days

ZAGREB, 1 Feb 2022 - The Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) on Monday issued revised protocols for persons infected with COVID-19 and their close contacts, shortening the period of quarantine to seven days for all close contacts and not just persons who have been vaccinated and have recovered from the infection.

Exceptions from the rule on quarantine remain the same as in the previous protocols, the HZJZ said in a summary of the new protocols, published on its website. 

Persons with an asymptomatic infection may end their isolation if on the fifth day at the earliest they test negative on a rapid antigen test, as may patients with mild and moderate symptoms after at least five days, on the condition they test negative on a rapid antigen test on the fifth day at the earliest, their temperature is not elevated and they have significantly reduced symptoms.

Without a rapid antigen test, isolation lasts ten days for persons who have not been vaccinated and have not contracted the infection earlier, while for those who have been vaccinated and have recovered from COVID-19 isolation lasts seven days without a test. To end isolation without a test, a patient must not have an elevated body temperature for at least 24 hours, as against the previous rule of a minimum three days.

If the patient and their close contacts share the same household where they do not have the possibility of isolating the patient, household contacts have to quarantine for seven days after the patient meets the conditions for the completion of isolation.

A person with an asymptomatic infection may end their isolation five days at the earliest after testing positive, if they test negative using a rapid antigen test done on the fifth day of isolation at the earliest. After that, they have to wear a mask for the next five days when in contact with other persons, limit contact with persons at risk of a serious disease and comply with other epidemiological rules.

If the rapid antigen test done on the fifth day since the start of isolation at the earliest is positive, the person concerned can end isolation after seven days if they have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19, or after ten days if they have not been vaccinated and have not recovered, without having to test again.

Thursday, 11 November 2021

Record-High Number of People Vaccinated Against COVID on Wednesday

ZAGREB, 11 Nov, 2021 - A record-high 27,261 persons were vaccinated against COVID-19 in Croatia on Wednesday, including 16,747 who received the first dose, the highest number since early June, the Public Health Institute (HZJZ) said on Thursday.

Also yesterday, 3,527 persons received a second dose and 7,347 a booster shoot.

Croatia has administered 3,759,981 vaccine doses to date, with 1,990,925 persons receiving the first dose and 1,707,700 two doses, while 61,356 persons have received a booster shot.

To date 49.06% of the total population has been vaccinated, including 58.67% of adults.

The City of Zagreb accounts for the highest number of persons who received the first dose, 57.6% of the capital's total population and 69.2% of adults.

Zagreb also has the largest number of persons who have completed vaccination, with 52.6% of its total population and 63.4% of adults.

The HZJZ called on those who have not been vaccinated, notably those most at risk, to do so as soon as possible.

For more on lifestyle, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, 2 October 2021

Overweight Croatian Children: Every Third Child Eats Too Much

October 2, 2021 - With every third child having a weight problem, the study finds that the sheer amount of overweight Croatian children is a legitimate concern.

The Dalmatian meat specialty of Pašticada, Zagorje's Štrukli, spicy Slavonian sausages called Kulen... the list goes on and these are just some of the delicious foods Croats traditionally eat. But even outside of tradition, there are loads of contemporary food restaurants, foreign food options (Chinese, Mexican, Arab, Greek and more), not to mention many fast-food chains and even more bakeries. Basically, there's no need to worry about starving in Croatia. And that may also turn into a problem.

As writes, every third child in Croatia is overweight, meaning there is now a serious concern about overweight Croatian children which needs to be tackled.

This fact was discovered during the ''European Initiative for monitoring childhood obesity in Croatia 2018/2019'' (CroCOSI), conducted by the European Office of the World Health Organisation. It's interesting to note that the research leader for Croatia was none other than Sanja Musić Milanović, the wife of the current Croatian president, Zoran Milanović.

The results of the research were presented last week at the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ). ''Around 35% of Croatian children aged 8 to 9 are overweight, and only 14% of parents are aware of that,'' writes

Looking at different regions, the lowest amount of overweight Croatian children can be found in Zagreb (29.7%). While continental Croatia has a higher percentage (36.0%), the Adriatic region holds a record-breaking number, reaching almost 37%.

Gender-wise, Croatian boys have more weight issues than girls do (17.8% / 11.9%).

While this isn't too much of a drastic rise when compared to the research from 2015/2016 (the total percentage was 34.9%), being overweight remains a big problem for Croatia which can lead to serious health risks sooner or later. These issues go deeper than personal health but also result in more pressure being placed on an already burdened healthcare system.

What's interesting, is that this weight problem is more of an issue in rural areas than it is in urban ones, even though you'd think it should be the other way around as rural areas are more in touch with nature and offer more possibilities for recreation. However, urban areas, as a study suggests, have better prevention programmes which advocate for healthy habits and lifestyles.

Additionally, the fact that only 14% of parents are aware that their child has a weight problem also shows problems in understanding of what a good diet actually is among Croats.

''The Health Ministry has recognised the weight issue as a priority area and has started with preparations for making a prevention plan for it. I believe that with the implementation of this action plan, we'll contribute in stopping this negative trend rising on a national level in the years to come,'' commented Health Minister Vili Beroš.

The problem of overweight children and fat-shaming has recently been recognised among Croatian pupils. As TCN wrote, pupils in schools are no longer measured publicly but privately. However, the combat against unhealthy habits among Croatian children for a healthier, more knowledgeable generation is still underway.

Learn more about Croatian food in our TC guide.

 For more about health in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.


Thursday, 19 August 2021

Pavić Šimetin Says New Epidemiological Restrictions Considered

ZAGREB, 19 Aug, 2021 - Croatian Public Health Institute deputy director Ivana Pavić Šimetin said on Wednesday that an increase in the number of new coronavirus cases could be stopped and slowed down with vaccination and adherence to epidemiological measures.

Pavić Šimetin told Croatian Television that new epidemiological measures were being considered, including the possibility to shorten business hours.

She said authorities expected a lot from the digital COVID-19 certificate, adding that wearing a mask in school would be mandatory form from grades five and up.

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


Friday, 30 July 2021

COVID-19 Response Team: Share of Infections with Delta Coronavirus Variant Rising

ZAGREB, 30 July 2021- The results of the latest sequencing of samples sent on 20 July show that 13% of the samples were infected with the Alpha coronavirus variant while 84% were infected with the Delta variant, meaning that the share of the new variant in Croatia has continued to grow, the COVID-19 response team has said.

Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Friday that according to the latest map of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Croatia remained in the orange zone, recording the smallest daily increase in infections in relation to its competition.

"That fact strengthens our status as the safest tourist destination. That gives us reason for satisfaction, but we must remain cautious," he said.

There are over one million tourists in Croatia, which carries an increased risk of disease transmission, the minister said, calling for compliance with restrictions and for vaccination.

He again called on elderly citizens to get vaccinated, noting that mobile teams had been formed to visit elderly people at home and remind them of the importance of getting vaccinated.

Asked if vaccination would be made obligatory for some sectors, Beroš said that that was not likely at the moment and that what prevailed was the proposal for the smart use of COVID-19 certificates to enable work also for people who had not been vaccinated.

Claim for damages over infection, death during hospital treatment

The minister said that for the time being there were no lawsuits against medical institutions over infection with COVID-19 during hospital treatment but he confirmed that a claim for damages had been filed against the KBC Zagreb hospital by a family who believed that their member had died in hospital infected with COVID-19.

KBC Zagreb officials have said that COVID-19 restrictions and professional rules are complied with at the hospital.

"As for whether lawsuits can be expected, probably yes. I can only repeat that since the start of the pandemic we have acted in line with recommendations by the public health institute for safe work in hospitals," the minister said.

Official: Vaccinated people can transmit infection, should wear masks until vaccination rate is high 

Reporters asked the head of Zagreb's "Dr. Fran Mihaljević" hospital for infectious diseases, Alemka Markotić, to explain research showing that people who have been vaccinated can spread infection with the Delta coronavirus variant equally fast as people who have not been immunised.

She said that this was not unusual as a person who had been vaccinated was protecting themselves but could carry the virus, which was why experts remained cautious and were not saying that those who had been vaccinated should no longer wear masks.

Public Health Institute (HZJZ) head Krunoslav Capak said that epidemiological rules for the 5 August commemoration of Operation Storm had still not been defined and that they would be known on Monday, and as for the Alka tournament in Sinj, he said that a proposal had been made for participants to have COVID-19 certificates and for the number of attendees to be half the envisaged seating capacity.

The COVID-19 response team will hold its next news conference in three weeks' time, on the condition there are no extraordinary situations.

Friday, 23 July 2021

Croatian Public Health Institute on Vaccinating Roma People

July 23, 2021 - The response by the Croatian Institute of Public Health on vaccinating Roma people arrived few hours after TCN published the first article on the subject. TCN, true to its words, will now publish the response as promised to our readers.

A recent TCN report about vaccinating Roma people people saw the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) send the answers that didn't make it out before the publishing of the article. They apologised, stating that it all might have come down to a mistake in communication, suggesting that their reply might have been originally sent to the wrong address (after sending, forwarding, and lots of e-mail addresses involved, one can understand that the answers could have been sent to the wrong email).

Either way, it's fantastic to receive some new info on the matter.

A quick reminder, Veljko Kajtazi, a member of the Croatian parliament, elected as a representative of the Roma community, told TCN that official research of the percentage of vaccinated Roma people hasn't been conducted, but added that he frequently goes ''to out into the field'' and can see that the situation isn't with vaccinating Roma people isn't good.

''If 45% of the Croatian population is vaccinated, I can say that Roma people are a very small percentage of that number,'' commented Kajtazi. He also recognised fake news as the cause of lowered interest in the vaccine.

''Last year, 80% of Roma people wanted to take the vaccine, but today, they're scared and believe in various conspiracy theories. People aren't informed, and social media spreads so much disinformation,'' stated Kajtazi. 


Cijepljenje_Vakcinacija.jpg © Cijepljenje / Vakcinacija

Ethnicity is not a criterion for vaccination

HZJZ responded that they also hadn't conducted any research about attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccines among the country's Roma people. They also haven't come up with any statistics for the percentage of vaccinated Roma people.

''During the vaccination process, no differences are made in regards to ethnicity as the vaccination plan doesn't see ethnicity as a criterion for who can take the vaccine and who can't. This is the same with Roma people and for any other ethnic minority,'' explained HZJZ. They added how they asked each of the county branches of the Public health Institute about vaccinating Roma people and the field information confirmed that vaccination is being carried out in accordance with the current vaccination plan.

''So far, there has been no analysis of the number of vaccinated people based on ethnicity at the state level, and local institutes don't keep a record of vaccinated people based on their ethnicity. This doesn't exclude the possibility of retrograde analysis in accordance with available data,'' pointed out HZJZ.

Regarding the isolation of Roma people, HZJZ said that local institutions arranged open points for the vaccination for all Croatian citizens, and they suggest that they had arrived at this point due to the partially inadequate organisation and a lack of financial conditions, not to mention a lack of human resources for vaccination in Roma villages.

However, the trouble of the isolation of Roma villages does seem to be something HZJZ recognises as a challenge in vaccine availability.

''With the goal of accomplishing a higher vaccination rate among the Roma community, we think an optimal solution would be to organise transport for the Roma community to the open vaccination points. But, that isn't in the domain of HZJZ, so we'd like to invite institutions that can help in organising transport to contact their nearest Institute for Public Health. Simply put, these institutes will organise vaccination wherever necessary, but to organise for citizens to come to the vaccination location by some special conditions, the organisational assistance of other contributors is needed,'' they concluded from HZJZ.

With Kajtazi previously stating for TCN that he is regularly in contact with the authorities when it comes to ensuring vaccines, as well as for real scientific information on their safety and efficiency, the organisational issues of transport to the vaccination points could be resolved.


Roma Representative in Croatian Parliament, Veljko Kajtazi, visiting Roma people in Varaždin © Savez Roma u RH "KALI SARA"

With increasing numbers of new cases of infection being noted, the situation may not be as dramatic for the moment but could escalate quickly if Croats fail to recognise the importance of vaccination, not just because of the risk of ending the tourist season early but also due to the potential of another heavy blow to the Croatian healthcare system.

At the time of writing this article, the latest report noted 179 new cases, one death, and 98 recoveries. Additionally, health officials had administered nearly three million vaccine doses. Thus, 1.604 million people have received at least one dose of vaccine against COVID-19, and 1,401,029 have fully been vaccinated (1,360,822 have been double-jabbed plus 40,207 who have received the single-dose Jannsen vaccine), and this makes up 41.614% of the Croatian adult population.

Learn more about travelling to Croatia during the COVID-19 pandemic on our TC page.

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

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