Thursday, 22 July 2021

Roma People COVID-19 Vaccination in Croatia: Will Crushed by Disinformation

July 22, 2021 - With the overall struggle to get Croatians to take the coronavirus vaccine, it is often overlooked regarding Roma people COVID-19 vaccination in Croatia.

Despite coronavirus infections being low at the moment, the situation is tense. On July 5, as TCN reported, only 35% of the Croatian population was vaccinated as the Delta strain spreads globally and in the country.

"Unfortunately, we aren't satisfied with the percentage of vaccinated people we hoped to have. We all wanted to vaccinate more than 50 percent of the total Croatian population during June, but sadly our numbers in that regard are much lower. Only about 35 percent of the total Croatian population has been vaccinated, which isn't enough for them to be calm and to be able to live according to the old normal,'' said epidemiologist Dijana Mayer back then. This was punished with the Croatian coast no longer being in the green, and without bigger vaccination interest, things can turn red. As TCN wrote, there are 5-6 Positive Cases at Split Airport every day, and new measures are introduced to British tourists as the Delta strain is booming there (but in a less fatal manner because of vaccines). Stricter measures, in general, can be excepted by the end of the month in Croatia too.

Fortunately, things got better in July. As reported on Wednesday, „Croatia administered nearly three million vaccine doses. Thus, 1.6 million people have received at least one dose of vaccines against COVID-19, and 1,388,674 have fully been vaccinated (1,349,652 have been double-jabbed plus 39,022 who have received a single-dose Jannsen vaccine), and this makes up 41.24% of the adult population“.

But, disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines is vividly spread (just as disinformation about COVID-19), leaving Croatian fact-checking site Faktograf knee-deep in debunking work. Many Croatians sadly believe the fake news of the anti-vaxxers, and the situation culminated to the point where the Croatian officials (as officials in many other EU countries that also struggle with anti-vax propaganda) seriously discuss obligatory vaccination. Will it happen? Some politicians are up for it, others no, but overall, the situation is uncertain as the fourth infection wave approaches, and the season could potentially be in jeopardy in mid-August, as 24 Sata writes.


COVID-19 vaccine © Pixabay

In summary, there are currently more vaccines in Croatia than there are people interested in. It's hard to believe how things progressed from the start of the year when we witnessed a delay in vaccine shipments, outrage by the public when people such as Zagreb University Rector Damir Boras received the vaccine ahead of time and schedule. From the malfunctioning Cijepi se (Vaccinate yourself) website where you had to register for an appointment (which took forever to get) to a family doctor being able to sign you up, all the way to be able to take a shot without an appointment today, vaccines truly became accessible for everyone. There were even buses bringing vaccines and performing vaccinations in remote villages. So vaccines are for everyone to take, but is it really so?

Nothing in the world is perfect, and neither is Croatia. From time to time, we can see that some groups in Croatian society do get discriminated against or suffer negative stereotypes. For example, with significant progress in accepting the LGBTQ community, sadly homophobic attacks still happen. The tensions with the Serbian minority vary from the day-to-day political agenda, but it is safe to say no one has it worse than the Roma people in Croatia.

As TCN previously wrote, following the 2020 report by Human Rights House in Zagreb, Roma people in Croatia are still facing many obstacles in achieving their rights, which include employment, access to services, and adequate living standards, and there is still segregation in the education system too. Either perceived as thieves, criminals, beggars or completely ignored in Croatia, the question of how many Roma people in Croatia received the vaccine and how many Roma people want the vaccine in the first place, can't be left aside, as it shows how much the vaccine rollout truly is fair for every citizen in the country.

Disinformation crippled 80% of those willing to get the vaccine

Veljko Kajtazi, a member of the Croatian parliament, elected as a representative of the Roma community, says that official research of percentage of vaccinated Roma people hasn't been conducted, but he frequently goes „to the field“, and sees that the situation 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, then on a relevant number of vaccinated people.

He supports the talk of obligatory vaccines and finds disinformation and fake news regarding vaccines to be the cause of low interest.

veljko_kajtazi_Hrvatska_radiotelevizija.jpgVeljko Kajtazi, screenshot / Hrvatska radiotelevizija

„Roma people have a very social culture, love gatherings, and live in big families. When the pandemic started, I cooperated with authorities in ensuring that social distancing measures are respected in Roma settlements and that we educate people on the dangers of coronavirus“, recalled Kajtazi.

While Roma people can be found living anywhere, the majority is often ghettoized. An example is in Zagreb, where the Kozari Bok neighborhood on the east side of the city is famous for its big Roma population. When looking outside of the capital city, there are many Roma villages and settlements which count more people than other Croatian villages.

One such place is Piškorovec in Međimurje, which the Lupiga news site referred to as „the biggest Croatian ghetto“. Their article detailed both living in Piškorovec and tensions with the nearby town of Čakovec underlining incidents and division between Roma and Croatians (as Roma People are often perceived as thieves or beggars).

„Last year 80% of Roma people wanted to take the vaccine, but today, they are scared and believe various conspiracy theories. People are not informed, and social networks spread so much disinformation“, Kajtazi pictured how wishing for a vaccine turned sideways.

In the end, he added that he is regularly in contact with the government and institutions to provide information on vaccines to the community. Katja also hopes the vaccine buses will come to Roma villages too.

Questions for HZJZ

The lack of information, geographical isolation, and the overall achievement of social rights (such as health insurance) like other Croatian citizens that the Human Rights House in Zagreb expressed in their report left a lot of open questions regarding Roma people vaccination. Particularly, are there any statistics on how many people vaccinated that the health officials might have, what is the mood towards vaccines in Roma communities in their view, and can buses come to isolated areas to vaccinate Roma people? The inquiry was sent to the Health Ministry and to the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ). Health Ministry very quickly forwarded the inquiry to the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) as these questions are part of their domain. The health ministry even forwarded the questions directly to the HZJZ headmaster Krunoslav Capak himself and other close associates on e-mail addresses not visible on the HZJZ website. But, HZJZ hasn't responded yet. Whether I tried to remind them and ask when can they answer via e-mail or phone calls, none left a response (although a phone call with HZJZ PR service confirmed there are experts in HZJZ that deal with the health of vulnerable social groups, which includes Roma People).

When the answer that can be expected for the moment remains unknown, but TCN will publish HZJZ's response when we receive it.

In the meantime, as we can see, despite vaccine skepticism being strong, there is nevertheless a slow but steady daily rise of vaccinated people in Croatia. 

Let's hope for the sake of public health that disinformation and fake news that turn people away from the vaccines will lower its influence on all the cultural groups and identities you can find in Croatia.

Editor's note: HZJZ response

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.

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Croatian Public Health Institute Updates Rules for Vaccinated, Recovered People

July the 17th, 2021 - The Croatian Public Health Institute has updated its rules for vaccinated people and those who have proof of their previous contraction and subsequent recovery from COVID-19.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian Public Health Institute has announced a few new changes according to which vaccinated persons would be exempted from testing and quarantine for nine months following full vaccination, instead of the previous six.

According to a statement published on the Croatian Public Health Institute's epidemiological services website, health surveillance in the quarantine/self-isolation of close contacts has been extended from the previous ten to fourteen days since the last close contact with an infected person is deemed to have taken place.

Such a decision was made taking into account the growing prevalence of the new Delta variant in the Republic of Croatia and throughout Europe and the slight increase in incidence within the country.

Furthermore, taking into account the recent data on the presumed duration of immunity after recovery and after vaccination, the new Croatian Public Health Institute recommendations are to exempt asymptomatic vaccinated subjects from PCR testing and quarantine only fourteen days after their second dose of the vaccination and not, as before, immediately following it.

In addition to all of the above, the exemption from quarantine and the need for PCR testing for asymptomatic individuals is being extended to nine months from the completion of the second dose of vaccination or from the onset of the disease, and the same applies to asymptomatic individuals who have recovered and received a single dose of vaccine within eight months from the onset of the disease. That will remain valid for nine months following them having received the vaccine.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including vaccination points and testing sites, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Friday, 25 June 2021

Capak: Croatia Identifies 23 Cases Of Delta Coronavirus Variant

June 25th, 2021 - Croatia has registered 23 cases of the Indian/Delta coronavirus variant in five counties. If it starts to spread, stricter epidemiological measures will follow. The Croatian Institute for Public Health and member of the national COVID response team, Krunoslav Capak, said on Friday.  

"The Indian variant has been identified in Međimurje, Šibenik-Knin, Varaždin, Split-Dalmatia, and Zagreb counties. Naturally, we are concerned," Capak told a regular COVID press conference.

Indian variant spreads 30 to 40 times faster.

"The Indian variant spreads 30 to 40 times faster than the classic and UK variant, which dominated recently. Indications exist that the contagion is more serious and that it affects younger people, and if it starts spreading among us, we will have to apply stricter measures," said Capak.

Croatia has registered 118 new COVID cases over the past 24 hours, slightly more than last week. However, the number over the entire week decreased by 25%. The highest incidence rate is in Zadar County due to recent celebrations following a basketball game when fans did not adhere to epidemiological measures. As a consequence, 70% of new cases registered in Zadar County are people younger than 40.

"That is a warning for all of us," Capak said.

He added that according to the 14-day incidence rate, Croatia ranks 11th among EU countries and 20th for the fatality rate. The current rate of positive cases among those tested is 2.9%, he said.

COVID certificate verification app downloaded more than 3,000 times

The head of the COVID  response team, Interior Minister Davor Božinović, said that the COVID verification application had been downloaded more than 3,000 times. It is currently available in the Apple store and should soon be available in the Google store.

Božinović called on local authorities not to allow uncontrolled mass gatherings not to lose control of the epidemic.

Testing criteria to be changed

Considering that Digital Green Certificates enter into force on 1 July, the national criteria for testing as proof of recovery from COVID will change.

"As of 1 July, new testing criteria will enter into force so that fast antigen tests that come back positive will need to be confirmed by a PCR test. More than 45,000 people who were confirmed positive with antigen tests will as of next week be able to obtain COVID certificates," said Capak.

Even though the vaccination rate has slowed down and the set target of 55% of people inoculated by the end of June will not be achieved, Capak is convinced that that target will be reached soon.

Asked how they intend to convince 25% of the population that refuse to be vaccinated, Capak said that inoculation would mean that you can attend certain events, they will be rewarded with concerts and in other ways. Employers will be allowed to demand that employees who are not inoculated "be constantly tested."

EU citizens from green zones do not need quarantine or testing

Capak said that EU citizens coming to Croatia from green zones do not need to go into quarantine or be tested and freely enter the country.

The most important thing is that Croatia largely depends on tourism and needs to remain in the green zone. In that case, everyone will be able to return to their countries without additional restrictions. We need to remain in the green. That is in the interest of Croatia's health and economy, said Božinović.

For all, you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border, and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centers across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Friday, 18 June 2021

New Infections Fall 42% Week on Week, Says Chief Epidemiologist

ZAGREB, 18 June 2021- Chief epidemiologist Krunoslav Capak said on Friday, last week saw a 42% drop in new coronavirus infections and called on people to be vaccinated despite the good epidemiological situation.

Speaking at a press conference of the national COVID-19 crisis management team, Capak said there were 814 new infections from Monday through Friday last week and 468 this week.

The team said the epidemiological situation was favourable and that Croatia ranked 12th in the EU in terms of 14-day incidence per 100,000 population.

Health Minister Vili Beroš said citizens who planned to be vaccinated in the autumn were making a wrong calculation. Vaccination now, at the start of the summer, prevents a new virus wave, he added. "At the moment we know the vaccine protects for at least eight months, and most probably longer.

Asked how possible manipulation with digital EU certificates would be prevented as of 1 July, for example a person showing someone else's certificate to attend an event, Interior Minister Davor Božinović said it was always possible to identify the certificate bearer and that he was confident that manipulation of that kind would be rare.

For more news from Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Krunoslav Capak Talks COVID-19: We're Edging Closer to Old Normal

May the 23rd, 2021 - The epidemiological situation across Croatia continues to become more and more favourable, with infection rates dropping and the vaccination rollout picking up its pace as time goes on. With things looking far more positive, Krunoslav Capak, the director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, has encouragingly stated that we're edging closer and closer to the ''old normal' we took for granted before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as the tourist season rapidly approaches and coronavirus cases continue on their downward trend, Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic spoke about the somewhat controversial topic of so-called ''Covid passports'' and where Croatia currently stands.

"Croatia, as a country which relies heavily on tourism, has a strong motive to see all these solutions dealt with at the EU level, to be ready for its implementation as soon as possible. Our test was the first and we were the first to pass it successfully, not because we were first in line, but because some others weren't ready. We've done that part and we're ready. What has been published is legislation at the EU level. It's important that the certificates aren't referred to as travel documents, they're certificates that can confirm in a credible way for each person that the person has recovered, that they've been vaccinated or that they've tested negative", said Bozinovic.

"As for the parliament, I think the decision will be made on June the 7th, but that doesn't prevent us from starting to these certificates earlier. We have a week ahead of us in which we'll need to think about the new measures, given that the existing ones expire on May the 30th. Until then, we'll see in which direction to go further with concessions,'' he added.

''People who cannot be or haven't yet been vaccinated will not have to pay to be tested,'' Bozinovic assured.

Croatian test events: Everyone present returned a negative coronavirus test result.

When asked if the results of the pilot project had arrived since last week, Krunoslav Capak replied that they had results from the business event. There were 86 people who were vaccinated, and 32 who were vaccinated on the spot. "They're all negative," he said, which is extremely encouraging as we attempt to return to something like the old normal we were all so used to.

The second test event a wedding. "They were also all tested yesterday and we don't have a single positive test," Krunoslav Capak said.

"This is proof that in this way, if we provide access to the vaccinated, the sick and the tested, we can organise such events. We're close to teturning to the old normal ", Krunoslav Capak assured.

For all you need to know about coronavirus in Croatia, including travel, border and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centres up and down the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Monday, 10 May 2021

Public Health Official Says Trial Events Discussed, Good Results Expected

ZAGREB, 10 May 2021 - Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) head Krunoslav Capak said on Monday that intensive talks were underway on trial, controlled events with more participants to take place this week, expressing confidence those pilot projects would go well and there would be no new infections.

"This will be a test, a project in which we will bring together two different populations of people in two places," Capak said at a news conference held as part of the "Healthy living" project.

One of the events will have 80 participants and the other 120. The participants will be people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, people who have a certificate proving that they have recovered from the disease, or people who will be tested for coronavirus right before the event. After seven days, PCR tests will be done to see if there has been any spreading of the disease.

"We don't expect it, similar activities have been implemented elsewhere in the world. Some did PCR testing after such events and obtained good results, there were no new infections. We hope everything goes well and that we will enter June in a more relaxed atmosphere," said Capak.

Close to 900,000 people vaccinated with at least one dose

Capak said that close to 900,000 people in Croatia had been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and that 7.5% of them had received both doses.

A total of 1.1 million doses have been administered.

"By the end of June, we expect to use all the vaccines that will arrive and more than 55% of the adult population is likely to be vaccinated by then. That will make it possible for us to enter the summer more calmly and to have a successful tourist season," Capak said.

For all you need to know about coronavirus in Croatia, including border, travel and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centres across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and choose your preferred language.

Monday, 10 May 2021

Krunoslav Capak Discusses Measures, Croatian Vaccination Rollout

May the 10th, 2021 - When might Croatia relax at least some of its anti-epidemic measures, which despite being the most liberal in all of Europe, are still causing grief as the pandemic continues? Krunoslav Capak offered some clues going forward.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ), Krunoslav Capak, said that the coronavirus vaccination rollout here in Croatia was progressing very well, and that if there are enough vaccinations administered, larger and even mass events similar to the ones we once knew so well and took for granted could be organised for people who had been vaccinated or who have tested negative for the novel virus, as reported by N1.

''It isn't going to be happening tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, but rest assured, it is being discussed,'' Krunoslav Capak said, adding that all of Croatia's epidemiological measures will remain in force as they are now and that we can be quite sure that nothing will change in the next few weeks.

''With more and more vaccinated people and the arrival of warmer weather, we hope to be able to talk about easing some measures and organising larger gatherings,'' Krunoslav Capak said.

''We set a record the other day, we vaccinated 53,000 people, breaking the record from a week ago when 47,000 people were vaccinated,'' he said, adding that he hopes to be able to even break that record as we go forward in the fight against the novel virus.

''Everyone is committed to getting as many people vaccinated as possible. Our goal is to be about 55 percent of people, we hope more than that and that would be the beginning of a more peaceful and normal life,'' said the director of the CNIPH, emphasising that they are working on education about the virus, the vaccine and a very strong media campaign to encourage people to get vaccinated so that we might return to at least some form of pre-pandemic normality.

Krunoslav Capak said that in the country's tourism sector, which employs about 65,000 people in total, several thousand people have been vaccinated, and that the CNIPH is sending a larger number of doses to Dalmatian and coastal counties and Istria in order to vaccinate as many tourist workers as possible before the summer season begins, which still has many question marks hanging over its head.

For all you need to know about coronavirus in Croatia, including border, travel and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centres across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and choose your preferred language.

Friday, 16 April 2021

Croatia Will Have Received 1.8 Million Pfizer COVID Doses by 1 July

ZAGREB, 16 April, 2021 - Croatia can expect the delivery of 1.8 million Pfizer doses against coronavirus and the inoculation of 55% of the population against this infectious disease until 1 July, the national COVID-19 crisis management team said on Friday.

Representatives of the team said at a news conference that Croatia has registered a 32% weekly rise in new cases, and that the share of positive tests was 29.2% on Friday.

In terms of the incidence rate, Croatia  currently ranks 21st in the European Union and in the terms of the death rate, it ranks 17th, Croatia's chief epidemiologist Krunoslav Capak told the news conference.

"Pfizer has ramped up its delivery of vaccines for us. We Will have received a total of 1.805 million doses of this vaccine by the end of June," Capak said adding that he expected more than half of the population to get COVID shots before 1 July.

The head of the Zagreb-based Fran Mihaljević hospital for infectious diseases, Alemka Markotić called for additional caution before people get vaccinated.

"It would be a pity to develop serious symptoms of this disease now when we can be vaccinated soon," she said.

She said that the British variant of the novel virus was currently dominant in the European Union.

Markotić said that her hospital has been full with patients for days and that she was particularly concerned with the difficult condition of patients aged between 25 and 40.

Health Minister Vili Beroš reassured the general public that there would be enough vaccines for everyone who wishes to be immunised against this infectious disease.

Beroš dismissed accusations from some media outlets and Opposition lawmakers that the Cuspis company, which is allegedly owned by a family friend, had been favoured by the Health Ministry in the task to design the Cijepise (Get Vaccinated) platform.

Beroš said that all data concerning this issue were available on the ministry's website.

Beroš went on to say that the company had been hired by the ministry for some other tasks before he became an assistant minster and before his ministerial term.

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

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Krunoslav Capak Discusses Croatian Approach to AstraZeneca Vaccine

April the 7th, 2021 - Krunoslav Capak, the director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, has spoken out about potential changes to the Croatian attitude towards the AstraZeneca vaccine, about which there has been many questions.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic held a video meeting with representatives of the Croatian National Civil Protection Headquarters, all county prefects and heads of county public health institutes regarding the fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the distribution of upcoming doses of vaccines.

The meeting was also attended by the Croatian Minister of Health Vili Beros and the Director of the CNIPH Krunoslav Capak, who gave their statements after the meeting.

“We talked to the prefects and directors of the county institutes about the vaccination process. Significantly larger quantities are coming at the beginning of the week, we wanted to oblige them to be organisationally prompt and ready for the arrival of larger quantities of vaccines. A little less than 100,000 doses will come this week, and 490,000 doses by the end of the month,'' explained Beros.

Beros also commented on the connection between AstraZeneca and concerning complaints such as blood clots.

"We're following everything that's happening, but before we can come to any conclusions we need to wait for the official position of the EMA and its regulatory bodies. We talked about it too, all the options are on the table. In order to act, we must get clear and unquestionable information from the EMA,'' said Beros, adding that any vaccine is a salvation at this moment as the pandemic rages on globally.

"Whoever collects all of the documentation and monitors the side effects can give an assessment. I'd suggest that we wait for what will happen from the EMA,'' said Krunoslav Capak.

“It's very difficult to decide on a suspension [of the AstraZeneca vaccine], it's possible that something will be changed for the recommendation and instructions for the use of that particular vaccine. If something like that happens, it will come in the form of a recommendation for certain age groups to not receive that vaccine,'' explained Krunoslav Capak.

He also said they had instructed that the third phase of the coronavirus vaccination process could begin immediately given the large quantities of vaccines arriving.

"Defacto, we're starting with the third phase of vaccination," Beros added before referring to the meeting with wholesalers.

"At the moment, we aren't thinking about increasing healthcare contributions. Today's meeting is a clear signal that we want to work together to solve this problem. The meeting was held in a constructive tone and Finance Minister Maric left the possibility of additional funds that would ensure the regular functioning of wholesalers according to the healthcare system open,'' concluded Minister Vili Beros.

For more information on coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border and quarantine rules, as well as testing centre locations across the country, bookmark this page.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

New Coronavirus Restrictions to be in Force Until 15 April

ZAGREB, 31 March, 2021 - The national coronavirus crisis management team on Wednesday announced new epidemiological restrictions to be in force until 15 April, including a ban on indoor training, restrictions on the work of children playrooms and a temporary ban and restriction of cross-border travel.

The ban on indoor training does not apply to top competitions and athletes.

Certificates of vaccination with Russian, Chinese vaccines valid

Croatian border authorities will accept fast antigen tests as well as certificates about vaccination with the Russian and Chinese vaccines, and certificates proving their holders' recovery from COVID-19 and those certificates will be considered valid for 180 days, the team's head, Davor Božinović, said.

Border crossing has been regulated due to tourist visits, the exception being digital nomads and children.

"Considering restrictions in neighbouring countries, we do not expect a large number of arrivals," said Božinović.

He noted that the tighter restrictions were being introduced following a proposal to that effect by county COVID-19 response teams.

Apart from nationwide restrictions, the national team also made decisions on restrictions for Šibenik-Knin and Split-Dalmatia counties.

In Split-Dalmatia County, which has seen a big increase in new infections, the mandatory wearing of face masks at outdoor venues with an increased flow of people will be introduced, as will a ban on the sale of alcohol from 8pm to 6am. The work of cafes will be restricted until 8pm, and it will be possible to serve food and drinks only in the open. Foreign language schools will switch to online classes again.

Božinović said that restrictions could be additionally tightened since the epidemiological situation was not good.

Restrictions to be tightened if number of infections continues to grow

"We have a significant increase today and we cannot ignore the possibility of the scenario in neighbouring countries happening here as well. These restrictions will be in force for a few days but should statistics be worrying, we will introduce new measures," said Božinović.

The latest restrictions go into force on Thursday and will be in force until 15 April.

In the last 24 hours, 2,623 new coronavirus cases and 19 COVID-related deaths have been registered in Croatia, the national coronavirus response team said earlier in the day.

The number of active cases now stands at 11,306. Among them are 1,337 people receiving hospital treatment, of whom 144 are placed on ventilators.

Croatian Public Health Institute head Krunoslav Capak warned that today the number of new infections was 47% higher than last week.

Istria County has the lowest incidence, while Primorje-Gorski Kotar County has the highest. Croatia is currently 18th in the EU in terms of the number of deaths per one million inhabitants, while in terms of the 14-day incidence it is 12th.

Speaking about the start of the third phase of vaccination, Capak said that care would be taken of the order in which people had registered for vaccination at the online platform.

"All people older than 16 can be inoculated in the third phase, but a certain priority will be given to people in services in which they come into contact with a large number of people," he said, adding that the third phase could start in May.

He noted that cases of infection with coronavirus after vaccination had been reported. "We have about 20 such cases. Forty-four people in aged care homes got infected after receiving the first dose and 22 got infected after the second dose, but the symptoms were mild."

Commenting on an announcement by the Zagreb COVID-19 response team about the wearing of face masks outdoors, Capak said: "If you are outdoors and alone, there is no need to wear a mask."

"Outdoor mask wearing refers to places where there are a lot of people, in the farmers' market, on the waterfront," he said, noting that the recommendation to wear a mask outdoors had been in force so far for places where physical distancing was not possible.

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

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