Monday, 21 December 2020

Capak: First Batch of Pfizer Vaccine to Consist of 9,750 Doses

ZAGREB, Dec 21, 2020 - The first batch of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine will be delivered to Croatia on December 26, and the 9,750 doses will be distributed among the counties taking into account the size of their population, Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) director Krunoslav Capak said on Monday.

"A total of 9,750 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be sent to Croatia on December 26. We will try to vaccinate as many people as possible with this symbolic dose," Capak told a press conference of the national COVID-19 response team.

This symbolic first batch will not be enough to vaccinate the whole first priority group of people in Croatia. "The vaccine will primarily be administered to care home residents, some of the emergency medical workers and some of the health workers in COVID centres," Capak said.

Capak noted that Pfizer had pledged to deliver additional supplies on December 31 which would be used to vaccinate the whole first priority group. He said that discussions were under way on the vaccination of the second priority group, including people suffering from chronic diseases and those older than 65 years.

Capak pointed out that 27% fewer new coronavirus infections had been recorded in the week from December 15 to 21 than in the previous week.

Croatia has the third highest 14-day COVID-19 incidence rate and the ninth highest mortality rate in the European Union.

Friday, 18 December 2020

First Small Batch of COVID-19 Vaccine to be Delivered on Dec 26 to Croatia

ZAGREB, Dec 18, 2020 - Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) director Krunoslav Capak said on Friday that Pfizer would dispatch the COVID vaccine to EU member states on December 26 and that Croatia was among the countries that would receive this symbolic quantity.

He added, however, that it was still unknown when Croatia would get the rest of the million doses it ordered.

Capak said the delivery was being discussed with Pfizer at EU level and that the company promised that the tranche for the last quarter of 2020 would be dispatched by the end of January.

We assume will know the quantity by the end of next week, he added.

7 m2 per person in churches on Dec 24, 25

Mass services with more than 25 people will be allowed on December 24 and 25, provided that each person has seven square metres at their disposal, which will ensure a 2.6-metre-distance between them,

Speaking at a press conference of the national COVID-19 response team, he said that before and after those two days the ban on more than 25 people gathering indoors and outdoors would remain in force.

The HZJZ will appeal to the Church and the clergy to make sure that believers comply with the restrictions. Outside churches, a maximum 25 people will be allowed to gather and the recommendation is that all services on Christmas Eve end by 10 p.m.

Asked why bars and restaurants were not allowed to work under the 7 m2 criterion per customer, Capak said the answer was "impossible."

"We keep telling you that, with the measures, we are trying to ban contacts, but without banning the activities which are necessary for economic, psychological, social and other reasons. This measure is tied to respecting believers' wishes and needs for spiritual peace and the need to celebrate this holiday."

Small quantity of COVID-19 vaccine to be delivered on Dec 26Infections have dropped 20% in one week

In the week of December 14-18, Croatia recorded 20% fewer infections than the week before, "for the first time in weeks," but it will take more time for this mild downward trends to be reflected in "the number of hospitalisations, persons on ventilators and deaths," said Capak.

Compared with other EU countries, Croatia continues to have one of the highest incidence rates, ranking third on December 17, after Luxembourg and Lithuania.

Health minister on travel restrictions, bonus for working with COVID patients

Health Minister Vili Beros said travel within the country was being restricted ahead of the upcoming holidays because of asymptomatic patients.

He also responded to complaints from medical staff that this month they did not get the promised salary bonus for working with COVID patients, saying they would get it with the salary for December.

He said some hospitals had calculated the salaries for November before receiving the notification on how to calculate the bonus. "Not one health worker who works with COVID patients will be left without their bonus."

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Capak: Three-day Rolling Average of COVID-19 Cases Significantly Lower

ZAGREB, Dec 16, 2020 - Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) head Krunoslav Capak said on Wednesday that Croatia this week had a considerably lower three-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases compared to past weeks and that it was now fifth in the EU when it comes to the number of infections.

At a press conference of the national COVID-19 response team, Capak presented three-day data, according to which there were 7,159 new infections this week, 9,019 new infections last week, while two weeks ago there were 8,269 such cases.

The HZJZ also calculated the cumulative COVID-19 incidence rate for Croatia, which is 43,903 cases per one million inhabitants, and there are four EU countries with higher rates -- Slovenia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, and Luxembourg.

There are still big differences in incidence rates between counties, with Medjimurje County having the highest incidence rate, followed by Varazdin and Krapina-Zagorje counties, while Dubrovnik-Neretva, Istria, and Pozega-Slavonia counties have the lowest incidence.

Capak also said that the decline in the number of new infections had nothing to do with the fact that rapid antigen tests, who had been widely used in the past two weeks, were not included in the statistics, and he explained that rapid antigen tests were not reliable in diagnosing new patients.

He stressed that there was still no reliable information when the COVID-19 vaccine would be registered in the EU, and therefore when it would arrive in Croatia.

"We have a promise from the manufacturer that it will deliver the promised quantities of the vaccine in January. Enough doses of vaccine have been pre-ordered for Croatia's entire population," Capak said.

He explained that it was not yet known how many health workers would be vaccinated because the data from the conducted surveys were not available for all counties.

Asked about the ethics of vaccines, he said there were differences in the technology of vaccine production, but that he personally did not know why some of the vaccines would be unacceptable for ethical reasons.

The head of Zagreb's Dr Fran Mihaljevic hospital for infectious diseases, Alemka Markotic, said that the Oxford and the Russian vaccine had been produced using fetal cells, in the same way, various vaccines had been produced in the past 55 years and which had been used to vaccine millions of people in recent years.

Markotic called on those who had recently got infected with COVID and had risk factors to contact their family doctors or COVID treatment facilities at an early stage of the disease.

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Krunoslav Capak Reveals Latest COVID-19 Vaccination Plan in Croatia

December 16, 2020 - The latest on the COVID-19 vaccination plan in Croatia, as revealed by Krunoslav Capak of the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

Jutarnji List reports that although the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has announced that approval for the use of Pfizer and BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine could arrive by December 29, the German Bild reports that this could happen as early as December 23. On the other hand, the Germans say that in that case, vaccination in that country could start the day after Christmas, more precisely, on December 26. Given that the European Commission has announced in the vaccination plan that all EU countries, after the EMA has the last word, will receive the vaccine simultaneously, this would mean that Croatia could start with the first vaccinations on December 26 or 28.

Namely, BioNTech reported that the delivery of vaccines from the factory and the primary European distribution center of Pfizer's vaccine in Puurs, Belgium, can start as soon as the green light from the EMA and the EC arrives. The date by which the EMA could give the green light was indirectly confirmed at a press conference by German Health Minister Jens Spahn. He said the media reports, according to which the EMA should approve the vaccine on December 23, were correct, adding that this would happen through a regular rather than an urgent procedure, "because we want citizens to gain confidence in the vaccine," he said.

"We have information that the Pfizer vaccine will arrive in Croatia on January 4. However, the company said earlier that, as soon as the EMA approval arrives, symbolic quantities of the vaccine could be delivered to all EU countries at the same time this year. The rest should arrive after the New Year," says the director of the CNIPH, Krunoslav Capak. He is convinced that if the EMA approves the vaccine on the 23rd, Croatia will receive the first quantities simultaneously as Germany and other EU countries.

It should be reminded that Croatia has ordered a million doses of Pfizer vaccine, but it will, as in other countries, arrive in smaller tranches. The first quantity for Croatia should be 125,000 doses and is intended for the vaccination of users and employees of nursing homes and health professionals. After that, those over 65 and chronic patients will be vaccinated with two doses, for which it will be necessary to organize vaccination sites well. The National Civil Protection Headquarters also announced a campaign to give citizens all the information they need about the benefits of vaccination and possible side effects.

According to some information, the start of the campaign is planned for December 21, while the current epidemiological measures will be in force, and it seems that they will not be eased. It is also possible that the measures will be tightened if, by the end of this week, the numbers of patients and hospitalized due to coronavirus do not show a more serious downward trend. The Headquarters and the Ministry of Health believe that this is optimal because most people will be at home, spending time watching television, listening to the radio, or reading online portals.

But what is still not clearly answered is the details of the vaccination plan. For healthcare facilities, this should not be a major problem, as many healthcare professionals are concentrated in one place and can vaccinate each other. However, nursing homes are increasingly a "bottleneck," in which more than 70 percent of users have given their consent to vaccination. The facts say that homes do not have enough health professionals who could use all open vaccine bottles in the short term.

These days, the survey of nursing home users and employees has been completed, so it is known at least approximately how many doses are needed. So far, about 24,000 residents and employees have expressed this interest, which means that 48,000 doses should be provided for them within 21 days, which is the interval between two doses of the vaccine. If vaccination in Croatia starts on December 28, those vaccinated on that day will acquire full immunity on January 24 next year. By the end of the week, it should be known how much interest health professionals have in vaccination.

Initial figures suggest it could be about half of public sector employees, or about 30,000. This means that 60,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine should be provided for them. According to that calculation, after the vaccination of those from the first planned group of 125,000 received doses, there would be about 15,000 left from the first delivery of the vaccine, i.e., enough to vaccinate another 5,000 at-risk citizens.

However, there could be many more problems when the next shipment of Pfizer vaccines arrives, i.e., when the vaccination of the general population over the age of 65, who live in their apartments and houses, begins, because they will certainly need more doctors and nurses to implement them than usual in the flu vaccination season. There is still doubt as to whether vaccinations should be given exclusively to family physicians, as suggested by epidemiologist Dr. Bernard Kaić, or whether the number of "vaccinators" should be extended, for example, to pharmacists, about which there are also suggestions.

To read more about coronavirus in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 14 December 2020

Capak: Twofold Increase in New Infections Recorded Last Week

ZAGREB, Dec, 2020- Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ)  head Krunoslav Capak said on Monday that Croatia last week registered a twofold increase in new COVID-19 cases and that the country's epidemiological situation was the worst in the European Union.

According to Capak, from December 7 to 13, Croatia registered a 7.5% increase in the number of new infections compared to a 3.7% increase in the week before that.

The incidence rate in the entire Croatia is high, but the differences between counties are considerable, with Medjimurje County reporting the highest and Dubrovnik-Neretva County the lowest incidence rate.

We are in the last place in the EU when it comes to the number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days, Capak said. As for the mortality rate, we are in the 16th place of the 27 EU countries, with 628.5 deaths per a million inhabitants.

Capak also said that today people in self-isolation account for 40% of the new infections.

"This shows that the system of searching for contact has not fallen apart despite operating with difficulties due to a large number of new infections," he added.

Vaccination programme by end of week

Asked about the number of health workers that want to be vaccinated, Capak confirmed the unofficial data that slightly more than 50% of health workers want to, adding that they are still collecting data on that.

He stressed that the vaccination campaign had already started, and by the end of the week the government would adopt a vaccination programme although it was not yet known when the vaccines would arrive and be distributed.

In the coming days, science conferences on vaccination will be organised, and there will also be a media campaign.

Asked about people who will not be able to get vaccinated, the head of Zagreb's Dr Fran Mihaljevic hospital for infectious diseases, Alemka Markotic, said that that would be apply to people allergic to a vaccine ingredient.

She added that they expected there would be very few such cases and that people should get informed on their own about their allergic reactions to medicines.

Croatia reports 1,472 new coronavirus cases, 65 deaths in last 24 hours

Croatia has registered 1,472 new coronavirus cases and 65 infection-related deaths in the last 24 hours, the national coronavirus response team reported on Monday morning.

A total of 2,857 infected people are receiving hospital treatment for COVID-19 and 284 of them are on ventilators. Currently, there are 22,769 active cases in the country and 54,042 people are in self-isolation.

Since February 25, when the first case was confirmed in the country, 177,358 people have been infected with the novel virus, 2,705 of them have died and 151,884 have recovered, including 3,673 in the last 24 hours.

Friday, 11 December 2020

Croatia's COVID-19 Figures are Still High, Says HZJZ Head

ZAGREB, Dec 11, 2020 - Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) director Krunoslav Capak has said that the number of new coronavirus infections is still high, as is incidence, and that more than 50% of employees of care homes and their residents as well as medical workers want to get vaccinated.

"Our figures are still high and they differ from county to county. Varazdin County continues to have the worst statistics, with incidence being almost twice as high as the average incidence in the country," Capak said on Friday at a news conference held by the national COVID-19 response team.

The latest figures show that there are 4,396 new infections out of 11,687 tests. A week ago, on December 4, there were 3,955 infections out of 10,626 tests and a week before that, on November 27, there were 4,080 new cases out of 11,091 tests, said Capak.

The current 14-day incidence for the entire country is 1,183 per 100,000 population, while Varazdin, Medjimurje and Krapina-Zagorje counties have the highest incidence.

Istria, Dubrovnik-Neretva and Pozega-Slavonia counties have much lower incidence rates.

The only other EU country that has a higher incidence than Croatia is Luxembourg, according to Capak.

As for the mortality rate, Croatia is currently 16th in the EU, with a rate of 580.7 per one million inhabitants.

As for the share of positive tests in the total number of tests, in the last 14 days it has been 35.6%, and the total rate so far has been slightly above 23%, Capak said.

Antigen testing in Varazdin County, care homes

Capak also said that rapid antigen testing was underway in Varazdin County, that currently workers of the Calzedonia company were being tested and that of the 339 tests done, 10 had returned positive, which was a rate of less than 3%.

Testing has also started in care homes, and information on that will be provided on a weekly basis, the HZJZ head said.

As for the new criteria of the European Centre for Disease Control, according to which the results of fast antigen tests should be added to the number of confirmed infections as of December 3, Capak said that the ECDC did not pass laws.

He cited the example of Slovakia, where over a period of two weeks, two-thirds of the country's population were tested with rapid antigen tests and those results were not included in official statistics. 38,000 infections were found and daily figures ranged between 2,000 and 3,000, he said.

"Other countries act the same way as well, so this (ECDC criteria) is not a law. For the time being, we are carefully monitoring both sets of figures," Capak said.

Speaking of the relaxation of restrictions, Capak said that it was difficult to predict how the situation would develop, adding that there was no formula to calculate how cold weather and longer stay indoors would affect the figures.

He also stressed that many European counties that had announced relaxation of restrictions and opening of ski resorts had given up on such plans due to the bad epidemiological situation.

More than 50% of residents of care homes, medical workers want to get tested

As for vaccination lists, Capak said that the national COVID-19 team had requested family doctors and the HZJZ to provide them with data relevant for vaccination roll-out planning.

More than 50% of staff and residents of care homes are interested in getting vaccinated, and the situation in similar in health institutions for which data are available, Capak said.

Vaccination will be conducted according to priority, not all medical workers will be vaccinated but those who are in direct contact with COVID-19 patients, notably those exposed to aerosols, said Capak.

As for the storing of vaccines, Capak said that there were no problems with that and that the entire quantity of the Pfizer vaccine can be stored at the Institute of Immunology, KBC Rebro hospital and the Rudjer Boskovic Institute, while county HZJZ branches have additional storage capacity.

Sunday, 6 December 2020

National Civil Protection Headquarters to Roll Out Plan for Easing COVID-19 Measures in Croatia

December 6, 2020 - A plan for easing COVID-19 measures in Croatia should be introduced by the National Civil Protection Headquarters, stating concrete, measurable numerical parameters for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Index.hr reports that according to the announcements of the Chief State Epidemiologist Krunoslav Capak, the National Civil Protection Headquarters should present to the public a document in which, for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, it states concrete, measurable numerical parameters according to which the current strict measures will be eased.

According to the rather strict proposal of the epidemiologist, easing measures would take place in three rounds and will depend on the average number of those infected during the last 14 days and the share of those infected among all those tested.

The first round involves opening restaurants and increasing the number of people allowed at gatherings from 25 to 30. But for that to happen, it is necessary that the 14-day incidence per 100,000 inhabitants does not exceed 300, and that the share of positives among all daily tested is less than ten percent over a period of seven days.

In the second round, cafes would open and 50 people would be allowed to gather. This step can be taken when the 14-day incidence will not exceed 200.

The third round implies permission to increase the occupancy of public transport and gatherings of up to 100 people, but only when the 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants does not exceed 100, and the share of positive cases in relation to the tested does not exceed 5 percent. 

Croatia currently has a 14-day incidence rate of 1141.6 COVID-19 cases per 100 000, and a 14-day incidence rate of nineteen COVID-19 deaths per 100,000.

On Saturday, the National Civil Protection Headquarters issued a statement with the latest data on the state of the coronavirus epidemic in Croatia.

"In the last 24 hours, 4,084 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 virus were recorded, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is a total of 24,495.

Among them, 2,514 patients are in hospital, of which 259 are on respirators.

70 people died."

To read more about coronavirus in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Friday, 4 December 2020

Capak on Vaccination Plan in Croatia: It Won't Be Mandatory, But Masks Will

December 4, 2020 – At today's press conference of the National Civil Protection Headquarters, Krunoslav Capak, director of the Croatian Institute for Public Health, presented the vaccination plan in Croatia.

Capak said that the EU had opened negotiations with six manufacturers in the first phase and that the first agreement Croatia had received was the AstraZeneca agreement. From this manufacturer, 3.6 million doses of vaccine were ordered, but due to the huge interest of other EU countries, Croatia received 2.7 million doses, so the remaining 900,000 doses were ordered from Johnson & Johnson.

After that, one million doses were ordered from Pfizer and Moderna, and 300,000 doses from CureVac.

"Croatia has ordered 5.6 million vaccine doses from various manufacturers, and we have received an offer from the company that will register it at the end of 2021. We will take smaller quantities from them in case this is a seasonal vaccine," Capak said.

Pfizer's vaccine could be registered by December 29, registration of the Moderna vaccine is expected in early January, so it is likely that these vaccines will be the first to be vaccinated in Croatia, as the Oxford (AstraZeneca) vaccine is expected later in the first quarter of next year, said Capak.

Vaccination free and voluntary, masks still mandatory

"We've made a vaccination plan. It has all the elements except the distribution date and quantity, that's what we don't know yet. Pfizer has announced that the first round that comes to us will contain 125,000 doses. If it's a quarterly delivery, we'll be able to vaccinate 62,500 people. If there is a monthly delivery, then we will be able to vaccinate 125,000 people," said Capak, adding that the priority people are the sick, people in health care, users and staff of nursing homes. After that, the vaccine will be offered to all other residents.

"We calculate that 5.6 million doses will be enough for everyone who wants to be vaccinated. The vaccine will be free and voluntary, it will not be mandatory. But it would be good to vaccinate as many people as possible; it provides us with collective immunity," said Capak, emphasizing that the era of not wearing masks will not begin with the vaccination itself.

"For a while, we will coexist with masks even though we have been vaccinated or got over it. When the numbers fall then we will reduce the obligation to wear masks," Capak said.

The importance of informing about vaccination

"All vaccines recommend two doses. The second dose follows three or four weeks after the first. In the implementation, we took a model of how we do it for the flu. The county public health institutes will vaccinate with the help of other colleagues," he says.

Also, Capak added that it is very important to inform citizens truthfully and accurately, so the Government will hold a series of expert conferences to promote the importance of vaccination.

"In the fight against anti-vaccines, it is important to accurately inform citizens, and we are already doing that. The government will run an additional campaign, there will be a series of professional and scientific conferences, experts will talk about the vaccine and effectiveness. We will promote the importance of vaccination through the media and other means of communication and we think it is very important to emphasize in this campaign that vaccination protects not only ourselves but also others. It is a matter of social responsibility and solidarity with those most vulnerable from a coronavirus infection,” Capak said.

He added that no one even talked about compulsory vaccination.

"I will definitely get vaccinated and I offer you to record it when the vaccine comes to Croatia," Capak promised reporters and was joined by other members Davor Bozinović, Alemka Markotić, and Vili Beroš.

"It is said that this is the fastest developed vaccine in history. That is true, but one should know the fact that from the beginning it was obvious that the cure would be difficult to find. Therefore, large funds were quickly invested in vaccine research and production," Capak said in the introduction of the conference.

Sources: Hina, Index.hr.

To read more news about coronavirus in Croatia, follow our dedicated page.

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Capak Hints at Possible Shopping Center Closures in Croatia, Comments on Pfizer Vaccine

December 3, 2020 - In a morning television interview with N1, Croatian Public Health Institute director Krunoslav Capak hints at possible shopping center closures in Croatia. 

Index.hr reports that the director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, was a guest this morning on the N1 television program, where he spoke about COVID-19 measures in Croatia, among other things, like the Pfizer vaccine.

"As part of the joint procurement, the EU signed contracts with six manufacturers, later came the seventh. Pfizer was our third negotiator, we ordered a million doses. It should come as soon as the vaccine is registered. The European Agency will announce its decision no later than December 29," says Capak.

"We don't know at what time the other 125,000 doses will come. We'd better vaccinate 62,000 people and then re-vaccinate those 62,000 with another dose because it's under contract. Health workers who come into contact with patients are a priority," Capak says.

"We will get Oxford and AstraZeneca as a priority. According to the promises, we will get complete tranches in May and June, then we could vaccinate the entire population over the age of 18," he said.

"We manage to vaccinate very quickly; the flu in a week or two. I can vaccinate healthcare workers with a license, under the supervision of a doctor," he said.

Capak spoke about doing surveys for vaccinations in healthcare facilities.

"We have found that there are a lot of unknowns about vaccines and vaccinations. We will give all media a list of priorities and information on what will be done and how it will be done," he said.

Capak was asked about the measures.

"Our goal is to reduce contacts. You will admit that the situation is difficult for us. What can we do? We can increase testing, we do that, but we also have to reduce close contact because it spreads the virus. Cafes are closed to reduce contacts, because they spread the virus," he said.

What about shopping malls?

"As for them, we have determined measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Should they be closed or not? At the moment we have not brought it to the table, but it is possible to close shopping centers. Some European countries closed them," he said.

"As far as compliance with the measures is concerned, the Headquarters continuously appeals to the citizens to protect themselves and others. By adhering to the measures, we protect others and the vulnerable. There will be the possibility of fines for those who don't comply, and the law is in parliament," says Capak.

"The measures should be a balance between health care and the economy," Capak says.

“I think the measures are effective to reduce contact among citizens, to keep the numbers down,” he adds.

He says that if the situation worsens, the epidemiologists will propose additional measures. He also spoke about the direction of the new measures 

"In the direction of further reducing contacts in public transport, in shopping malls, in shops..." he said.

When asked about churches, he said that a horizontal measure of 25 people had been passed.

"It is possible to correct that, it is not the same whether it is in the cathedral or the chapel. The government has made a decision and so far it is so," he said.

When asked who in Croatia deals with calculations and projection models, he said that a working group deals with governments, but he did not want to say who is in it, only that there are two people from the CNIPH included.

Regarding the exact number of deaths from COVID-19 in Croatia, Capak says that there are defined rules and that it is considered that those who are COVID-19 positive died from COVID-19 and there is no other clear cause of death.

He confirmed that autopsies are generally not performed, as is the WHO's instruction, but that only a few of those autopsies were performed when the court ordered it to determine the exact cause of death.

He said that those who died in homes for the elderly are also listed in the statistics, but when asked why only the deceased in hospitals are always written in the statistics published by the Headquarters daily, he said that he had to check.

To read more about coronavirus in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Capak: New Measures to be Combined with Wide Use of Rapid Antigen Tests

ZAGREB, November 26, 2020 - Croatian Public Health Institute director Krunoslav Capak said on Thursday that the latest restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus outbreak would be combined with the wide use of rapid antigen tests and that this was expected to result in a fall in new coronavirus cases over the next four weeks.

"Right now our epidemiological situation is concerning. Epidemiologists have made their suggestions about individual measures and their effectiveness. The most important thing is to reduce the intensity of social contacts and keep the mobility of people as low as possible," Capak said at the presentation of the latest package of measures.

Croatia's incidence rate among highest in Europe

Capak said he believed the latest measures, combined with rapid antigen tests and self-isolation, would help reverse the present trend over the next four weeks and ensure that the number of new infections started falling.

"Our incidence rate is currently among the highest in Europe, above 900 cases per 100,000 people over the last 14 days. We have the 13th highest mortality rate in the European Union. The number of hospitalisations and the number of people on ventilators are also rising, and we also have a large number of deaths," Capak said.

Asked why the number of new cases detected by rapid antigen tests was not included in daily statistics, he said that the World Health Organisation and the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention did not recognise the antigen test but only the PCR test. He added that Slovakia had not reported the results of its massive antigen testing campaign to the WHO. 

"At this point, we are not including these figures. We are tracking them separately and will release them separately," Capak said.

No exemptions from measures

Capak said it was not possible for individual counties to be exempt from the latest restrictions because they were all colour-coded red.

"The incidence rate is so high that there is no need to consider any exemptions. In certain area the measures can only be tightened and not eased," he said.

Asked why the government had not at the same time presented a plan for easing the measures so that people could better organise their lives and work obligations, Capak said that Croatia had opted for a strategy of monitoring the epidemic on a daily basis.

"Some countries plan in advance the steps they will take when new cases reach a certain number, but Croatia is not among them. We are monitoring the situation on a daily basis, and we will discuss the easing of the measures in due course," Capak said.

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