Thursday, 20 January 2022

Prof Ivica Luksic of Dubrava Hospital: Omicron Changing Course of Pandemic

January the 20th, 2022 - The emergence of the far more infectious but apparently far more mild strain of the novel coronavirus, Omicron, has altered the course of the pandemic for many countries who are now opting for much different measures which resemble the ''old normal''. Prof Ivica Luksic of KB Dubrava has also noted that this variant is changing things.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the wave of the epidemic caused by the Omicron variant is still resulting in a large number of new infections, but there are indications that something is changing in the course of the epidemic.

"Over more recent days, we've had a continuous number of patients. We aren't experiencing significant growth, but we don't have a continuation of decline either. At KB Dubrava, we have about 70-80 coronavirus patients and about 20 of them are in the intensive care unit,'' said Prof Ivica Luksic, the director of the Dubrava Clinical Hospital, for Dnevnik.

He pointed out that apparently something in the course of the coronavirus pandemic is indeed changing.

"We have an enormous increase in new infections, but fortunately it is not accompanied by an increase in patients. Obviously, Omicron has changed the course of the pandemic, and we're adapting to these new circumstances within the hospital system," he said.

Regarding the age structure of patients requiring hospital treatment for their more severe clinical pictures, Prof Ivica Luksic said that the patients who are hospitalised are mostly older people and those who are unvaccinated.

"In the fourth wave of the pandemic, there was an increase in younger patients, those who were unvaccinated, and now we're returning to the situation in which we mainly have older people needing treatment," Prof Ivica Luksic said.

Asked if he could confirm that Omicron is mostly retained in the upper respiratory tract and doesn't descend further down into the lungs, Prof Ivica Luksic said it was too early for more serious conclusions to be firmly made, but that according to the clinical pictures of some of the first hospitalised Omicron patients, it does appear milder than it was before.

“You could say it’s going in the direction that the upper respiratory system is affected more often,” he said.

Asked if Omicron was the beginning of the end, Luksic said that its emergence has accelerated some things in any case.

"It's to be hoped that Omicron may have accelerated the end or indeed be end of the pandemic and the transition to the endemic phase of the disease," responded Luksic, emphasising the continued importance of vaccination.

"There are currently no patients who have received two doses of the vaccine or received a booster among those admitted to hospital," he told HRT.

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Friday, 17 December 2021

Božinović: It Would Be Safer for All To Celebrate New Year Outdoors

ZAGREB, 17 Dec 2021 - It would be safer for everyone to attend outdoor New Year celebrations and for the faithful to follow Mass on TV, the head of the national COVID-19 response team, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović, said on Friday, warning that the new, Omicron variant was much more infectious than the Delta variant.

"The Delta variant spreads much faster than the previous variants while Omicron spreads much faster than Delta. We have a mix of those two variants and we must bear that in mind," said Božinović.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to the coastal city of Zadar, he said that the number of new infections was growing in all four Dalmatian counties, calling on citizens to spend as much time as possible outdoors.

"We are entering the winter, people will tend to spend more time indoors and it is tremendously important that everyone takes care of themselves and not underestimate the situation," he said.

No relaxation of restrictions considering situation in Europe

Božinović noted that the latest epidemiological rules were introduced because of the situation in Europe and that there could be no relaxation of the rules.

"If the figures do not grow and if their mild decline is maintained, we will talk. It would be irresponsible of me to say anything else now because nobody knows what will happen in the next few days. It is a fact that we have a certain number of cases of infection with the Omicron variant and it is realistic to expect more rather than fewer cases. We should wait and see if the large figures in Europe result in more hospitalisations," he said.

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Tuesday, 7 December 2021

All Contacts of Omicron Patients Must Quarantine for 14 Days

ZAGREB, 7 Dec, 2021 - The Croatian Institute of Public Health said on Tuesday that all contacts of persons infected or suspected to be infected with the Omicron COVID-19 variant must quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or have recovered from the disease.

They must also undergo PCR testing on the first and last days of the quarantine. If Omicron infection is ruled out, the 14-day quarantine ends.

Croatia has confirmed three Omicron cases to date.

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Saturday, 27 November 2021

New Coronavirus Strain: Vili Beroš Blames Unvaccinated

November 27, 2021 - A new coronavirus strain was detected this week in South Africa. Referred to by the WHO as ''Omicron'', it is highly infectious and may have already reached Europe. Minister Beroš addressed the media to update on the situation in Croatia and focused the blame on the unvaccinated.

Minister of Health Vili Beroš sent a statement to the media about a new coronavirus strain that has started to spread and which the WHO called Omicron, reports

"We are monitoring the situation in the world and in Europe. We are in constant communication with all relevant departments in order to be maximally prepared for a new strain of the virus.

At this time, the final effect of these 30 mutations on the spike complex of the virus is still unknown, ie whether it represents an improved version of the delta virus in terms of infectivity and level of resistance to the vaccine.

The announcement of pharmaceutical companies, known from before, promises that they can adapt the vaccine in a shorter time.

But let's not forget, basic epidemiological measures are also effective against this virus: distance, masks, disinfection, ventilation, and avoidance of gathering! And against new mutations - vaccination!

It was a large pool of unvaccinated that gave life to a new strain of the virus. We’re smarter than that, it’s not too late to turn around! Let's listen to the profession, respect epidemiological measures, and get vaccinated", concluded Beroš.

In the last 24 hours 5,502 coronavirus cases and 51 COVID-19 deaths have been registered in Croatia, the national crisis management team said on Saturday.

There are 34,553 active cases, including 2,506 hospitalized patients, of whom 324 are on ventilators, while 28,272 persons are self-isolating.

To date, 3,424,751 persons have been tested for the virus, including 13,372 in the last 24 hours.

Croatia has registered 599,977 coronavirus cases to date as well as 10,695 related deaths and 554,729 recoveries, of which 5,629 in the last 24 hours.

To date, 53.43% of the total population has been vaccinated against COVID-19, including 63.77% of adults, 56.85% of whom have completed vaccination.

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Saturday, 27 November 2021

ECDC Calls for Stepping Up Vaccination, Epidemiological and Hygiene Measures

ZAGREB, 27 Nov, 2021 - The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has called, in the context of detection of Omicron, a variant of coronavirus considered a variant of concern, for stepping up primary vaccination, applying a booster dose for people above 40 as well as for stepping up other hygiene measures.

Based on currently available genetic information, the risks of this variant of concern are high, according to preliminary data, the ECDC said on Friday evening.

The B.1.1.529 variant, first detected in southern Africa, is the most divergent variant that has been detected in significant numbers during the pandemic to date, raising serious concerns that it may significantly reduce the effectiveness of vaccines and increase the risk of reinfections.

"Today we are releasing a threat assessment on the emergence of a new Sars-COV-2 variant of concern. There is still considerable uncertainty related to the transmissibility, vaccine effectiveness, risk for reinfections and other properties of this variant. At this stage, based on our experience with previous variants we must be proactive and implement measures as a precaution to buy time until we gain more knowledge. Therefore, I would like to reiterate the three key recommendations from our rapid risk assessment from the 24th of November. Firstly, it is imperative we close the immunisation gap. Secondly, booster doses should be considered for all adult individuals, prioritising persons above 40 years of age. Finally, due to the uncertainties involved with this situation, the timely reinforced implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions is now more important than ever," said ECDC director Andrea Ammon.

The non-pharmaceutical interventions include the appropriate use of face masks, teleworking, operational modifications that reduce crowding on public transport, ensuring adequate ventilation in closed spaces and maintenance of hygiene measures that can be implemented immediately. Setting limits for the number of participants in social and public events during end-of-year celebrations will support physical distancing efforts.

Ammon said countries are again urged to give utmost priority to individuals initially targeted by COVID-19 vaccination programmes that remain unvaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated. Increasing COVID-19 vaccination coverage in all eligible age groups, but particularly in the elderly, in the vulnerable, and healthcare workers should remain the priority for public health authorities.

Public health authorities should identify those with an epidemiological link to cases with the new variant or travel history to areas known to be affected to control or delay the spread of the new variant, she said.

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