Monday, 18 May 2020

Capak Talks Return of Croatian First League, Testing Players, and Club Consequences

May 18, 2020 - The director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) and a member of the National Civil Protection Headquarters Krunoslav Capak was a guest on Croatian football television where he commented and explained the epidemiological conditions for the return of football and the Croatian First League.

T.portal reports that the football season in Croatia continues on Saturday, May 30, when Lokomotiva and Slaven Belupo meet in the semifinals of the Croatian Cup. On May 31, Osijek and Rijeka meet in the other semifinal match.

The Hrvatski Telekom Croatian First League resumes on June 6, and Krunoslav Capak, the head of the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) and a member of the National Civil Protection Headquarters, commented on what we can expect for Croatian Football Television.

"We let the training begin, and if the situation is as it is now, then competitions can start. We will agree with everyone. A PCR test is valid for up to two days, after which a person can become contagious, so we do not like excessive use of tests. One test costs a thousand and a half kuna and the benefits and costs need to be weighed. If someone can afford it, that's fine, but by keeping the measures and without testing, a high level of safety can be achieved," Capak explained some of the epidemiological measures that Croatian first division players have to implement if they want to play at all.

The problem arises if just one player is infected with the coronavirus. What will happen in that case?

"If one of the players is positive, everyone who has been in contact with him in the last 48 hours must be in self-isolation," Capak says clearly and continues:

"The alternative is additional testing, but the test is valid for 24, at most 28 hours, so you would have to test constantly until 14 days. They and their family will have to isolate themselves at home. At the same time, it probably means the end of the competition for that club,"  revealed Capak.

Reading between the lines, if this worst-case scenario happens, the regularity of the entire competition comes into question, so it is almost certain that the most radical measures would be taken, and that is the termination of the Croatian First League competition.

A few days ago, the coach of Varaždin, Samir Toplak, wondered how it is possible that there can be as many as 200 people in churches, and spectators are not allowed in the stands. Football is still played outdoors, and there is more than enough space in the stands for those who would be encouraged to come. Social distance in the stands should not be a problem.

But according to Capak, these two types of gatherings are incomparable. True, the head of the HZZJ left the possibility that perhaps by further easing the measures in the near future, spectators - in limited numbers - could go to the stands of football stadiums.

"Mass is a static event where there is no contact except at communion for which there are precise epidemiological measures. Churches are both tall and airy buildings, and there is more interaction in cinemas and theaters, as well as at matches. There are epidemiological measures that could be prescribed to spectators in the stands, but it is still high risk. We are going in stages, although everyone would like everything right away," concluded Krunoslav Capak.

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

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Krunoslav Capak on Loosening Measures in Croatia, and When

April 14, 2020 - Head of the Croatian Institute for Public Health and a member of the National Civil Protection Headquarters, Krunoslav Capak, spoke about loosening measures in Croatia and when. 

Like much rest of the world, Croatia has been living with special measures because of the coronavirus pandemic. It seems, however, that the epidemiological situation in Croatia is quite good, so the question arises when the rules will be lifted, or at least loosened. 

We've already heard the news in Austria, which first announced that it was phasing out of the measures in place, as is Slovenia, Germany, but also Italy and Spain, the two countries most affected by the coronavirus in Europe.

Index.hr discussed loosening the measures and the epidemiological situation in Croatia with the head of the Croatian Institute for Public Health and a member of the National Civil Protection Headquarters, Krunoslav Capak.

Capak first commented on the fact that some countries, particularly those that were severely affected by the coronavirus, were already lifting measures.

"This situation cannot last indefinitely, especially in the economy, so that there is no economic collapse because then we have not done anything. The measures can be relaxed, but it must not be as before, special conditions such as distancing must be introduced," Capak said.

He announced that he would consider loosening some measures in Croatia in the next period as well.

"One of those things is public transport. When public transport comes back, social distance measures will be prescribed. But before relaxing measures, such as normalizing public transportation, we think the epidemiological situation must be stabilized so that, God forbid, we don't have a jump in the number of new cases as it happened in Serbia," said Capak.

Capak said that there should be a consecutive number of days without new cases or a drop in new cases, or, more preferably, a drop without sudden leaps. The Head of the National Headquarters and the Minister of Interior, Davor Bozinovic, also gave a concrete time interval. A drop in the number of new cases should occur for five to seven days for them to begin loosening restrictions. 

Krunoslav Capak revealed which of the measures represented the least risk and could be loosened in the first wave. 

"It will definitely be economically good, good for the recovery of the economy and not a big risk. The business people will also help us a little by telling us which measure will most help the economy without creating chaos in terms of spreading the infection and increasing the number of new cases," Capak explained, noting that the decision to loosen measures, when the time is right, is to be made by the Headquarters.

Capak confirmed that the public transport mentioned earlier could be one of the first measures to be eased.

"We will certainly consider public transportation and think very carefully about how we will do it. Our best people from the Public Health Institute use public transport to get to the lab, and they have no other option than public transportation. Some people just have no other options. We will certainly consider public transport soon, but under stringent conditions," Capak revealed.

He said extending the opening hours of shops, like before Easter from 7 am to 8 pm, is not currently being considered.

"We will stay part-time from 8 am to 5 pm. When we agreed to that, we wanted to make it one shift, that people working in stores rotate and reduce the number of people going to work. I think that it is very important and that it is a successful measure," Capak said.

Was there any feedback at the Headquarters as to whether the shops were organizing one shift?

"According to the information we have, most are. There may have been some shifts, but work is not two shifts, and that was important to us. I think it is very important to reduce the number of people, workers in stores, and customers," he added.

When asked about complaints from those who work from 9 am to 5 pm, who are left with little time to go to the shops, he said that those in the Headquarters understand this best, but that it is still a good and efficient solution.

"Of course, I'm pleased. We considered the scenarios and comparisons with other countries and I always thought we wouldn't have an Italian scenario. We did all the estimates on the number of beds and ventilators according to the Italian scenario, but I always thought it would be a lot milder here. If it were not for this situation in Split, we would have had a much calmer situation with less than 50 new cases a day," Capak said.

Can we expect that the tourist season will begin by the end of July or August?

"It is very difficult to predict. We do not know what will happen in Scandinavia, although it looks promising there, and we do not know what will occur in central Europe. We have a particular advantage here because of the favorable epidemiological situation.

However, the tourist season depends a lot on the situation in the countries from which tourists come to Croatia. We will certainly not allow people from countries where the situation is not good to come. That is why it is tough to predict the tourist season at the moment. I think it would be good to think about attracting local guests," Capak said of the tourist season.

Capak was asked if Croats who were planning holidays could then expect the movement ban within the country to be lifted.

"If it is a favorable situation, why not, we will see how we can ease it. For the time being, we are keeping that measure, but we will surely get there," Krunoslav Capak concluded.

Follow TCN's live updates on the coronavirus crisis in Croatia 

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Krunoslav Capak on Coronavirus Measures: Next Few Weeks Important

''Vaccines are very powerful weapon in the fight against diseases like this. Clinical studies for vaccines last from six to nine months. I don't believe we will have a vaccine [for coronavirus] before the end of this year,'' Krunoslav Capak said.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 7th of April, 2020, Krunoslav Capak, director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, told N1 television that the coming weeks were crucial in regard to the further development of the coronavirus epidemic in Croatia.

"We have a lot of people in self-isolation, these people have been in contact with those who are sick [with coronavirus]. It's important for these people to remain in isolation, and not to have any new contacts. If they fall ill in the meantime, then their contacts will also be at high risk of contracting the disease. We're trying to create a buffer zone so that the disease doesn't spread any further,'' he said.

Croatia's strict anti-epidemic measures will not be lifted in the coming period.

"We're analysing the situation every day, but in the coming weeks, which I repeat, are going to be critical, we aren't planning on loosening up the measures," he added.

"We still have a lot of people in self-isolation, about 20,000 of them, many of them have been in contact with those who are sick and newly positive people are coming from that pool of people. It's very important that they respect the self-isolation measures so that new people don't fall ill. It's also very important that we don't give up now and that we reduce social contact as much as possible. If we manage to contain this, we will have a favourable epidemiological situation,'' Krunoslav Capak said. He then answered the question of how people in self-isolation are controlled.

"There are two ways in which that's done, either the patients report to their doctors and to epidemiologists, or they contact them. Those who develop symptoms suspected of being caused by COVID-19 should go for testing. It is very important that the contact between patients in self-isolation and their physician or an epidemiologist is only made occasionally. I have to mention that the police have a database of people who are in isolation and have the possibility to report any misdemeanor, depending on the nature of the crime,''

Croatia has an optimal number of tests. Is that true?

"It's very difficult to estimate what that number is. Some tested a lot so they failed to prevent the epidemic. The best example is Italy. Our doctor from Italy, Dr. Nela Srsen, said recently that the Italians were wrong. All those who were negative felt free, which doesn't mean that they can't develop COVID-19 the very next day,'' he said, explaining where Italy had gone wrong.

"It's a combination of everything. It was too late to introduce measures already when they had a massive epidemic in the north of the country. The mentality of the people also plays a big role in all this, it isn't good for citizens to behave nonchalantly, get together, go out for coffee, and that's what happened there,'' explained Krunoslav Capak.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it is working hard to find a vaccine. When can we expect it?

"As you know, there are clinical vaccine trials going on in several places across the world. We can hope that they will prove to be good and safe. Vaccines are a very powerful weapon in the fight against diseases like this. Clinical studies of vaccines last from six to nine months. I don't believe we'll have a vaccine before the end of this year,''

There is a big rush for passes (propusnice). How are the [civil protection] headquarters handling it?

''The National Civil Protection Headquarters is trying make sure that what is essential to people's elementary lives isn't stopped, and it isn't trying to stand in the way of the economy. As for the epidemiological part - because of the movement of people that occurred at the time of the [Zagreb] earthquake, we introduced this measure, of course, with some exceptions. We aren't thinking of loosening up the measures on movement restriction at this point because the following weeks are crucial to curbing the spread of the coronavirus infection. After that, we'll analyse the situation and give priority to the measures introduced,'' Capak said.

In the end, Capak sent out a message to residents of Croatia:

"Be patient, listen to the staff's recommendations for a while longer. If the situation becomes favourable, we will certainly allow some of these measures to be removed to make it easier for people and families to function. Our goal is to curb infections, not to introduce measures and limit the functioning of people and families,'' he concluded.

Make sure to follow our dedicated section for more on coronavirus in Croatia.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Krunoslav Capak Discusses Coronavirus Testing, Protocols in Other Countries

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 6th of April, 2020, the director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, was interviewed by RTL Today (Danas) and explained in detail who is being tested for coronavirus and by what criteria, because that is one of the most common questions being asked by people up and down the country.

"From the very beginning, we've followed the guidelines of the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the World Health Organisation. It was first said that we needed to test persons who were in contact with a coronavirus positive person or who resided in focal areas and who developed symptoms. Later on, the ECDC changed its instructions and said to test for any serious respiratory disease and then it did so again ten days ago, in saying that we need to test for any acute respiratory disease for which no other cause could be identified,'' Capak told RTL.

An error in assessment may occur, especially when someone is diagnosed over the phone as is being done now, but that is why the coronavirus suspect can always call another doctor or another epidemiologist for a second opinion in each case of suspicion.

Krunoslav Capak also announced that a population-wide study will be done in the Republic of Croatia to see if anyone may have recovered from COVID-19.

"It will definitely work. A few days ago, we launched a literature review to see what that looks like and how it's done in other countries. We know for sure about the Yokoham cruiser, where there were a lot of positive test results, and the percentage of those who didn't even have any symptoms were quite high, but these are special conditions.

No population studies have been launched yet, but we will certainly do it. There are two ways to do this: either take one whole area and inspect people or conduct a so-called sentinel study, where all patients under the care of one general practitioner are studied and a profile is made,'' Krunoslav Capak explained.

For more on coronavirus in Croatia, follow our dedicated section.

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Can Someone Receive Wrong Coronavirus Test Result? Capak Weighs In

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 4th of April, 2020, the director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, revealed how often doctors are tested for coronavirus for Dnevnik Nova TV. Reporter Valentina Baus spoke with him.

Krunoslav Capak, director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, said the testing of doctors for coronavirus extends to those who return to work after self-isolation and to those who are positive and have yet to return to work. "It's already being done. And there should be more testing for those doctors who work on wards with at-risk patients,'' Capak said.

He added that there was no rule on how often doctors should be tested. "If there are epidemiological indications, then they're tested," he says. Otherwise, the test result is valid for 24 hours. "Then you can become positive. Negativity doesn't mean that someone won't develop positivity to the virus later on,'' explained the CIPH Director.

He also referred to Split-Dalmatia County, where the number of patients has increased in recent days. "I wouldn't say the situation has escalated. They had one peak where there were a lot of people sick in one day, but it should be noted that it is a large county with a lot of inhabitants,'' Capak said.

He also revealed if there could be an error in testing that made a positive person receive a negative coronavirus test result and vice versa.

"There are so many situations where an analyst cannot be sure of a single test, then put +/- and the test is repeated. There were a lot of such situations, and as for someone being issued with the wrong test result - I don't know about such a situation,'' Capak explained.

He also said that he was in contact with colleagues from neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro and that he had also spoken with colleagues from Italy.

Follow our dedicated section for more on coronavirus in Croatia.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Krunoslav Capak: I'm Disappointed in Croats, They're Violating All Measures

The Director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, has expressed his disappointment with the attitude of some in the country in the face of this epidemic, and warned of even more stringent measures should such behaviour continue.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 26th of March, 2020, Health Minister Villi Beros lost his nerve for the first time since witnessing the unfolding of the ongoing coronavirus crisis. He certainly had a reason for this because the news spread that medical professionals didn't have masks of the same quality as politicians. But other information emerged, which he called false.

The numbers for coronavirus in Croatia took off at an unprecedented speed. It took a month from the first person to become infected with the virus, few would then have predicted that the figure would reach 442 within a mere 30 days. It is excellent that 22 of those coronavirus patients have completely recovered. But unfortunately it did take the life of someone else, too.

"If you'd asked me about this on February the 25th, I'd have been more optimistic about the forecast. We did everything we could do, we introduced some measures and we were the first in Europe, but this virus is unpredictable, it's very complicated and we happen to have the numbers we now have, but it's still good considering our environment,'' Krunoslav Capak pointed out in conversation with RTL before adding:

"I'm disappointed with the behaviour of Croats, the measures prescribed by the headquarters are being violated in all possible ways. We're receiving information on breaches [of the measures and of self-isolation] every day, but we urge citizens to help us out, too,'' he stated.

Therefore, even stricter measures can be expected, although the ones we're currently living under are already stringent enough.

"Yes, it's possible for us to ban more the movement of more than two people and stop more than two people going into shops at once. Likewise, we can introduce much stricter controls in cooperation with the police. It seems to me that this is a scenario awaiting Croatia, we need to increase our control,'' Krunoslav Capak asserted.

He also referred to those who were keeping things close to their chests and not revealing that they had been in contact with infected persons, which we have witnessed multiple times now.

"If anyone knows that they've been in contact with an infected person and they've failed to not inform the people they need to, then they're intentionally doing so, which is a misdemeanor," Capak warned, referring to the quarantine imposed on Murter:

"Quarantine is the ultimate measure and in this case it seemed appropriate to epidemiologists. This prevents the further spread of the virus and it's easier to carry that out on the islands,'' he concluded.

Make sure to follow our dedicated section for all you need to know about coronavirus in Croatia.

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