Sunday, 29 November 2020

Croatian PM is Self-Isolating After His Wife Tested Positive for Coronavirus

ZAGREB, November 29, 2020 - The Croatian Prime Minister's wife, Ana Maslac-Plenkovic, tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday and after that Plenkovic himself underwent testing and his test was negative, however, he went into self-isolation, the government's public relations office reported on Saturday evening.

After a having a slightly elevated body temperature, Mrs Ana Maslac-Plenkovic underwent testing for coronavirus on Saturday and her test was positive, the government stated.

After his wife was diagnosed with coronavirus, the Prime Minister also underwent testing and his test was negative. However, the  precautionary measure of staying at home for 10 days was imposed on Plenkovic and he will continue performing his duties from home, the government's spokesman Marko Milic said.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Contract for €70 mn Project Signed at Rudjer Boskovic Institute

ZAGREB, November 16, 2020 - A signing ceremony for a €70 million contract for the establishment of scientific infrastructure and procurement at the Croatian Rudjer Boskovic Institute (RBI) took place in Zagreb on Monday, with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic attending the event.

The O-ZIP project (Open Scientific Infrastructural Platforms for Innovative Applications in the Economy and Society) is a key part of the Institute's development strategy and is based on strengthening the IRB's most competitive parts with the aim of a closer cooperation with the industrial sector, and it is the largest investment in research infrastructure in Croatia in the last 30 years, it was said.

Plenkovic said that the government's goal is to increase funding for research and science to 2.5% of GDP. Our ambition by 2030 is 3% of GDP, and we want a real connection between science and the economy, he said, recalling that in the past three years investments increased from 0.85% in 2017 to 1.11% of GDP in 2019.

All of this is part of a policy enabling scientists to contribute to the development of the country and young people to get quality education and become more competitive on the labour market, the Prime Minister said.

Science and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs said that this was the largest project in the field of science in Croatia. It will provide the Rudjer Boskovic Institute with excellent infrastructure, the lack of which has been an obstacle to its development for the last 15 years, he said.

RBI director David M. Smith thanked all those who had worked on preparing the project, as well as the authorities for their support. Since 2012, when this project was launched, this is the fourth government and the seventh minister, he said.

The project will turn the Rudjer Boskovic Institute into a contemporary science institute that will be able to compete with others in the field, Smith said, adding that the RBI employs excellent scientists, five percent of whom are foreign nationals, and that it accounts for more than a half of Croatian science in leading scientific databases.

The RBI, which this year marks its 70th anniversary, employs a total of 956 people, 738 of whom work in science. The RBI staff lead 34 projects financed from the European Structural and Investment Funds and 102 projects financed by the Croatian Science Foundation.

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Plenkovic: COVID Vaccines to Arrive in Croatia as Soon as They are Registered

ZAGREB, November 14, 2020 - Croatia, in cooperation with the European Union, has ordered COVID vaccines from several companies, and the delivery of the reserved doses can be expected in the country as soon as the vaccinations are registered, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said at a news conference in Zagreb on Saturday.

Croatia, in agreement with the EU, has concluded several Advance Purchase Agreements.

For instance, the European Commission and AstraZeneca have concluded such agreement on the delivery on 300 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine for the whole EU, and Croatia has ordered 2.7 million doses from that company.

Sanofi is supposed to provide the EU with 300 million doses, and the distribution of its vaccines across the EU member-states will be defined in December, Plenkovic told the news conference.

The EU is going to purchase 200 million doses from Janssen Pharmaceutica owned by Johnson & Johnson, and Croatia has booked 900,000 doses.

Finally, 200 million doses of the vaccine developed by the Pfizer & BioNTech have been booked for the EU plus an additional 100 million doses, and Croatia has reserved a million doses of this vaccine.

Commenting on the healthcare system in the country and struggle to contain the novel coronavirus, Plenkovic underscored that on Friday, his cabinet allocated HRK 1.34 billion to hospitals for the repayment of a part of the debt to drug wholesalers through a revision of the state budget.

He underscored the government's decision to approve state aid in the amount of HRK 88.5 million for Croatia Airlines to help it deal with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

Job retention measures, rise in basic and minimum wages by €127 and €120 respectively 

Considering the job-retention measures, the government will have paid more than eight billion kuna for that purpose, he recalled.

He also underscored Friday's agreement between the government and public sector unions on a HRK 1,500 Christmas bonus and a previously agreed 4% base pay rise.

Thus, the government has reached the target of its four-year policy to have the wages raised by 18.3%.

The basic wage has increased by 952 kuna, and the minimum wage has increased by 904 kuna over that period of four years, he said.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

Friday, 13 November 2020

PM: Again More Than 3,000 New Infections, Compliance with Restrictions Necessary

ZAGREB, November 13, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Friday that Croatia would today again have more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases, appealing to citizens to comply with epidemiological measures so as to avoid the introduction of more restrictions and noting that the situation is currently under control.

"The current situation is definitely the most difficult since the onset of the epidemic and we all must behave in such a way to help reduce those high numbers as soon as possible," Plenkovic said at a government session.

He said that the measures adopted two weeks ago had significantly slowed down the spreading of the epidemic and that the situation in Croatia was not as bad as in some other countries but that it was serious.

In five counties epidemiological measures are in force that are stricter than those at the national level.

"If we want to avoid stricter measures, personal responsibility is crucial. We believe this can be achieved with joint effort, with measures currently in force and with responsible behavior," he said, calling for physical distancing, wearing of masks and social distancing, with less contact with friends and relatives and less unnecessary contact.

Sufficient hospital capacity, sufficient number of beds, ventilators

The situation is currently under control even though the number of hospitalised patients is growing, which is due to an increase in the number of infections of about ten days ago, but the increase has been slowing down. The health system is under strain but it is not on the verge of collapse, Plenkovic said.

He noted that in Zagreb's KB Dubrava hospital alone, there were more than 500 available beds.

The hospital has been converted into a COVID hospital.

"Even though tests cannot discover all new cases, the slowing down of the number of new hospitalisations confirms that the situation with the epidemic is not getting out of control in relation to the measures in force and the capacity of the health system," he said.

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Plenkovic Unveils National Development Strategy Until 2030

ZAGREB, November 12, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Thursday unveiled a proposal for the national development strategy until 2030, saying that ten years from now he saw Croatia as a competitive, innovative and stable country of recognisable identity and culture, with preserved resources, good living standards and equal opportunities for all.

In circumstances of globalisation, over the next decade Croatia must use its competitive advantages and focus on sustainable economy and society, on increasing resilience to crises, on a green and digital transition, and balanced regional development, the prime minister said.

The goals include realising the potential for development, mitigating the consequences of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, promoting sustainable and stable development, improving living standards and ensuring equal opportunities for all people.

Plenkovic said that ambitious and realistic indicators were developed for all these components.

The proposed national development strategy will be put to public consultation over the next 30 days, after which it goes before the government and parliament. 

Plenkovic expressed hope that the strategy would be adopted with a broad consensus and support.

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Plenkovic Calls on Croatians to Comply with Anti-COVID Rules

ZAGREB, November 12, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Thursday that Croatia was now at the most difficult stage of the coronavirus epidemic and called on citizens to abide by epidemiological rules to avoid the imposition of tougher restrictions.

Over the past 24 hours, Croatia has registered a record 3,082 new cases of the coronavirus infection and 32 related deaths, the national COVID-19 response team said in the morninmg.

The number of active cases in Croatia stands at 16,348, there are 1,598 COVID patients in hospitals, and 178 of them are on ventilators.

Since start of epidemic 75,922 have caught virus, 58,649 have recovered

Since February 25, when Croatia registered its first coronavirus infection, a total of 75,922 people have contracted the novel coronavirus, 925 of them have died, and 58,649 have recovered, including 2,215 in the last 24 hours. There are currently 35,690 people in self-isolation.

To date, 592,326 people have been tested for coronavirus, including 10,156 in the last 24 hours.

Commenting on the latest coronavirus numbers, the PM told the government that the country was passing through the hardest period of the epidemic.

"It is therefore important to call on every citizen to comply with the measures adopted by the national COVID-19 crisis management team. Those are serious and well-thought-out measureas which bring results."

He said that in the last seven days the number of new infections had risen by 5.5% compared to the previous week.

This indicates stagnation in the number of new infections and this is what we talked about when we said that the latest measures would decelerate the rise in new infections, the premier said.

However, we must be on high alert, primarily due to hospitalisation numbers and data on patients in intensive care wards, he said.

Plenkovic reiterated the necessary activities essential for efforts to curb the virus: keeping a physical distance, hand-washing, and regular airing of rooms, and he underscored that such measures were especially important at private gatherings.

1,213 COVID patients admitted to hospitals, 744 discharged in last 7 days

Health Minister Vili Beros did not attend today's meeting of the government as he underwent testing for the virus, and it was later stated that he was negative.

The health ministry's State Secretary, Zeljko Plazonic, told the government that in the last  seven days, 1,213 COVID patients had been admitted to hospitals, whereas 744 had been discharged.

Commenting on the incidence rate, Plazonic said that even though it was registering a mild increase in the number of active cases, Croatia had a rather low number of active cases compared to neighouring countries.

Commenting on the occurrence of the disease among medical professionals, he said that about 1,400 healthcare workers were now diagnosed with the infection, and an additional 913 were self-isolating.

The Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) has prepared a plan for the implementation of mass vaccination against coronavirus, which includes the monitoring of the process and detection of contraindications.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

PM: Existing Measures to be Extended, Additional Ones Being Considered

ZAGREB, November 8, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said after meeting with the national coronavirus response team on Sunday that the epidemiological measures in place would be extended and additional ones would be considered.

"The response team have announced that they will be extending all the existing measures as of tomorrow. They are considering possible additional measures in consultation with the minister of science and education regarding online classes at universities and the possibility of working from home," Plenkovic told the press after the meeting.

He said that the national response team would hold press conferences three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, starting from Monday at 11 am.

The prime minister warned that the situation was still serious, but that the healthcare system was capable of withstanding the pressure of the epidemic.

Friday, 6 November 2020

Council: Anti-COVID Measures Appropriate and Proportional to Threat

ZAGREB, November 6, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Friday that the government's scientific council had assessed that the current measures  were proportionate to the threat of the spread of coronavirus.

"We have ascertained that there is a very clear common denominator that the measures we are taking are appropriate and proportional to the threat that the epidemic currently represents to the health of our citizens," Plenkovic told reporters after a meeting of the scientific council in the government.

He underscored that if necessary, the council would recommend further measures while the National Civil Protection Authority, that is the COVID-19 crisis management team, would ramp up the current measures.

Council's common stance: No lockdown or curfew

Plenkovic said that it was the common stance both of the government and the scientific council that a complete lockdown will not be introduced nor a curfew, reiterating that that "was never on the cards."

"We assessed that the overall fight against Covid-19 until now was good. It is good that we can see that the dynamics of the infection over the past few days has decreased significantly compared to the preceding weeks," said Plenkovic.

Asked whether anyone in the scientific council had suggested more stringent measures, the prime minister said that a margin existed to further sharpen measures and that the government was open to anything that could slow down the spread rate 0f COVID-19.

In response to reporters' claims that oncology patients in some hospitals will not be receiving their medication due to the debt to drug wholesalers, Plenkovic said that the budget revision is in the parliament and as soon as it is adopted certain funds will be paid to wholesalers but also that he has instructed Health Minister Vili Beros to investigate the situation.

"He has been in contact with the relevant health institutions today. I don't believe that that will be reflected in the broader context. If a shortage of a certain medication has occurred, I think that is more an exception than the rule in the health system," he said.

Referring to claims that numerous doctors are sending dramatic messages and that the health system seems on the verge of caving in to the epidemic pressure, the prime minister said that Minister Beros was talking with doctors right at this moment and that everything was being done to improve the quality and preparedness of the entire health system.

"The thing that is good and we spoke about that - is that a series of professions within the public healthcare system will additionally be engaged with a strong motivation to care for the health and welfare of our citizens," added Plenkovic.

Friday, 6 November 2020

PM: Coric Will Remain Minister, Opposition is Trying to Destabilise Gov't

ZAGREB, November 6, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Friday that Tomislav Coric would continue to be minister despite the fact that the opposition had launched "an action aimed at destabilising the government."

Asked for a comment on the opposition's motion for a no-confidence vote in Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Coric, Plenkovic said that the opposition had launched "some kind of action aimed at destabilising the government on three counts".

According to Plenkovic, the first one is the commission of inquiry, and he says there will be no such thing, especially not to be used as a political instrument for attracting the attention of the media for six months, until the local elections, with the opposition creating an image that the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) is corrupt. He underscored that a motion for establishing a commission on inquiry could be based on a specific topic rather than on a mishmash of topics.

Secondly, there is the interpellation on the Krs-Padjene wind park, to which the government has responded with arguments.

"We will show that it is a project that has lasted for 17 years, that all governments during that period were involved in it, and that the key decision granting (the Padjene wind park) the status of preferential electricity producer was adopted during the Zoran Milanovic government," Plenkovic said.

As for the third point, the initiative for a vote of no confidence against Minister Coric, Prime Minister said that this time they had chosen the minister.

"We will see what they have written, respond to them, have a discussion, they will not get the 76 votes they need, and he will still be minister," Plenkovic said, adding that the opposition will then probably move on to Minister Beros, the situation in the health system and so on.

Sunday, 1 November 2020

PM Talks With Zadar County Head After Strong Quake

ZAGREB, November 1, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic spoke on the phone on Sunday with Zadar County prefect Bozidar Longin after a magnitude 4.7 earthquake rocked the wider Zadar area.

The government and all services are ready to help the county, the government tweeted.

Seismologists said the quake struck near Paklenica, 7 km north of Starigrad, at 2.15 p.m.

The earthquake was felt across Zadar County, on the islands of Ugljan, Pasman and Murter, in the towns of Vodice, Sibenik, Drnis and Knin, in the neighbouring Sibenik-Knin County and in the Lika region.

There have been no reports of damage for now, Zadar police said.

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