Thursday, 4 March 2021

Veljko Ostojic: If COVID Passport Is Precondition for Traveling, It Is Discrimination

March 4, 2021 – Veljko Ostojic, director of the Croatian Tourism Association, was a guest on the Dobro Jutro, Hrvatska show, where he discussed COVID passports and vaccinations of tourist workers.

"First, we need to define what a COVID passport is. In my opinion, if it is a precondition for crossing the border, then it is discrimination. If it is a document that will allow those who have been vaccinated to cross the border faster and easier – I'm for it," Ostojic told HRT's Dobro Jutro, Hrvatska show.

Although it is not yet fully defined, the COVID passport should be given to those who have been vaccinated, those who have recovered, and those tested by PCR just before the trip, said Ostojic.

Asked whether entering Croatia will be similar to last year's, given that the vaccination will not be as expected, Ostojic said he hoped so. However, the priority goal for Croatia should be to "get green" as soon as possible. In that way, we could say that we are managing the epidemiological situation and that we are a safe country.

"Common European criteria for crossing the border should be defined, the epidemiological situation in our most important emitting markets should be monitored, from Germany, Austria onwards," says the Croatian Tourism Association director. He adds that it is still too early to talk about this topic because we still have a month, a month and a half.

Regarding the vaccination of tourist workers as a condition for the safe destination status, about which a promotional campaign was also launched, Veljko Ostojic says that tourist workers' vaccination will never be 100 percent. The Croatian Tourism Association conducted a survey with the Association of Hoteliers and the Croatian Camping Association. About 70 percent of employees expressed interest in vaccinations a month ago, Ostojic said.

There will likely be an organized vaccination of tourism workers after the first and second priority groups are vaccinated. We hope that it will be during April so that we can readily and vaccinated enter the primary tourist season, concluded Ostojić.

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Sunday, 28 February 2021

Spaladium Arena Prepared as Mass Vaccination Site in Split

February 28, 2021 - Preparations are coming to an end at the Spaladium Arena, soon opening as a mass vaccination site in Split. 

"Since last Monday, members of the Split-Dalmatia County Red Cross have been working on setting up the Spaladium Arena so that when larger quantities of vaccines arrive, it can be ready to welcome the start of large-scale vaccination. We have arranged 20 cubicles in which people will be vaccinated, which are needed to have a little privacy when getting vaccinated. As far as we are concerned, everything will be prepared by the end of this week at the latest," said Joško Metličić, the new director of the Split-Dalmatia County Red Cross, for Slobodna Dalmacija.

Only those who have been scheduled for vaccination will be able to come to the Spaladium Arena.

"At a specific hour, a certain number of people will be scheduled, who will be called and released to the Arena, where they will sit in prepared places and wait their turn for vaccination. Those who, say, are scheduled at 11 am will not be vaccinated at 9 if they come to the vaccination site two hours earlier. So, the order will have to be respected according to the list and according to the schedule," says Metličić.

Željka Karin, director of the Institute of Public Health of the Split-Dalmatia County, said we could start with large-scale vaccination as early as next week.

"We still don't know how much and which vaccine we will get next week. We received about six thousand doses of PfizerBiontech and AstraZeneca vaccines this week, and Moderna did not come, although it was announced. We distributed all the obtained vaccines to family doctors and special duty points, where people are also vaccinated. How many people have been vaccinated with those six thousand doses so far? We don't know yet. However, I think that next week we should not receive less than six thousand doses," says Dr. Karin.

Interest in vaccination is high.

"People are calling; they want to get vaccinated. If we had sufficient quantities of vaccines, we in Split-Dalmatia County would quickly vaccinate the population. We would have a satisfactory number of vaccinated by June this year at the latest. But for now, unfortunately, the vaccine is not in sufficient quantities. Next week we could put Spaladium Arena into operation to see if everything will work well and so that we can, if there are any shortcomings, fix those shortcomings so that it is ready for the real mass vaccination, which I expect in mid-March," explains Dr. Karin.

The number of cases in Split-Dalmatia County started to grow, connected with several events where groups of people were noticed (family celebrations, socializing in apartments).

"In the last two days, we have a slight decline, and I want to believe that there will continue to be a decline in the number of new infections. But when the terraces of catering facilities open, if the numbers start to go wild again, they will need to think about a possible closure again because it won’t make sense. I believe that it is in everyone's interest to have a tourist season, and I believe that it is in the interest of all private individuals who have restaurants and cafes to work over the summer. Therefore, I ask everyone and call on everyone to take responsibility and to respect all epidemiological measures, so that they would not be surprised and so that sometime in April they would not be forced to close catering facilities again," concluded Željka Karin.

To read more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 22 February 2021

Easing Measures in Croatia on March 1: Not Everything Will Open, Says Božinović

February 22, 2021 - At the National Civil Protection Headquarters' press conference on Monday, Interior Minister Davor Božinović spoke about easing measures in Croatia on March 1.

Jutarnji List reports that in the last 24 hours, 72 new COVID-19 cases were recorded, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is 2111.

Among them, 792 patients are in hospital, of which 68 are on a ventilator. 

20 people died. The average age of the deceased is 76 years. 166,146 doses of vaccine had been used, and 108,311 people were vaccinated. For 57,835 people, the vaccination was completed.

HZJZ director Krunoslav Capak reported on the 14-day incidence per 100,000 inhabitants.

"We have 72 new cases. A week ago, there were 68 new cases, and the week before, 71 new cases. The mild beginning of the plateau of an equal number of patients or a very slight increase continues. We currently have two percent more than the week before. The current incidence for the Republic of Croatia in 14 days is 111.2. The lowest incidence is in the County of Istria and the highest in Dubrovnik-Neretva County. In terms of incidence, Croatia ranks 3rd in the EU. Only Denmark and Finland have the lowest, and the Czech Republic has the highest in the EU: 1109.7. The total mortality rate per million inhabitants is 1331.9, and we are ranked 19th out of 27 EU countries. The share of positives in those tested today is 3.2 and for the last 14 days, 6.0. So far, HALMED has received 927 reports of suspected side effects, of which 822 are on the Pfizer vaccine, 48 on the Moderna, and 57 on the AstraZeneca," Capak said.

Capak spoke about the shipments of vaccines expected in Croatia.

"This week, we need to receive 23,400 doses of Pfizer, 16,800 Moderna, and 52,000 AstraZeneca. Moderna has announced that it will deliver those 16,800 doses on February 25. Of all the others, we have announcements for March, only from Moderna. We do not have dates, but they announced about 55,000 doses during March. We should receive another 508,630 doses of vaccine by the end of March."

Minister of Health Vili Beroš spoke about 20% fewer examinations and procedures in hospitals this year.

"It ranges from 19-28%. We learned in this spring wave and adjusted the health care system. Everywhere in the world, health capacities are focused on solving Covid problems. We had to operate one entire facility to provide COVID-19 protection to positive patients and relieve all other health facilities. I think we succeeded in that. We appeal to health institutions and patients to respond to preventive examinations. This is of fundamental importance. Many avoid these examinations for fear of getting infected in hospitals, which is not good. It is important to have regular preventive check-ups. And the general population does not respond in the desired number to preventive examinations. We are thinking about it, and we have adjusted the health care system so that as many institutions as possible provide other health care," he said.

Capak commented on allegations that those receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine will not have to wear masks afterward.

"The type of immunity that protects our mucous membrane from the virus, so that it cannot live on it, is a different type of immunity than the one that develops after vaccination. AstraZeneca was the first to publish a study, and their vaccine also protects against virus transmission. And if the vaccine develops immunity, we weren’t sure if that person could receive the virus on the mucosa and transmit it. That’s why we recommended wearing a mask even after vaccination. Whether other vaccine manufacturers will conduct such studies, we do not currently know. We wouldn’t tell anyone now not to wear a mask; everyone should wear a mask. Until the transmission of the virus and the number is significantly reduced, it is recommended for everyone to wear masks," said Capak.

Božinović commented on the possibility of easing measures from March 1.

"Talks have already begun this week. It all depends on the epidemiological situation, which is good despite these particular increases. The Republic of Croatia is at the top of the countries when it comes to low incidence. We will talk to the ministers. Our goal is the same, to normalize life as much as possible, to start as many economic activities as possible. Certainly, on March 1, we will not open everything as before the epidemic, but if these trends continue, the possibility of certain concessions certainly exists. I wouldn’t want to be more specific here now. We monitor the situation locally as well. When we talk about the counties' demands, that decision is always a decision of the National Headquarters. We are not against initiatives, but for each specific initiative from the county level, the decision will be made by the National Headquarters."

Capak commented on the slight increase 4 days in a row compared to the week before.

"Four days is not enough to talk about the trend. This is a slight increase from the figure a week ago. Now we can think that it is some oscillation, or we can say that it is the stagnation of the fall that we had so that the plateau has leveled off and the numbers are rising. We will see this over the next few days; we can hope it is a slight oscillation after which the numbers will fall."

Capak commented on the start of mass vaccination in Zagreb.

"I don't know about any problems. From the beginning, the possibility of getting vaccinated in organizations or at checkpoints has been included. Some have reached the stage of using checkpoints. In Zagreb, the transition to the second phase was a bit late, and now we got a little more vaccine, and the first phase is over. HZJZ has decided to make vaccination actions at checkpoints. Tomorrow we will vaccinate in Mihaljevac and the City of Zagreb in NZJZ Andrija Štampar. Patients from the list of health centers will come; 60 patients have been ordered every half hour. We estimate that we will vaccinate 900-1000 people."

Journalists asked the Headquarters about the tourist season and testing.

"It was discussed that those who return to their countries should be allowed to do PCR in Croatia to cross the border. We will try to organize it again this year during the season, and there is still time until then. Whether it will be at the airport or somewhere else remains to be seen. We think we will then have enough free capacity for PCR tests. There is still no EU country that recognizes rapid antigen tests for crossing the border, "Capak said.

Božinović continued.

"Numerous conversations are taking place on this, at all levels. There will be a European Council meeting soon. The Headquarters is constantly in communication with the Ministry, and we have planned meetings on this topic. This is just one of the issues we will discuss."

Reporters asked Božinović about the possible concessions on March 1.

"We are probably one of the most open EU countries, and the fact is that there is not much we talk about yet. Of course, when we talk about restrictions, some relate to some activities that are already open and take place under certain circumstances. I think it is becoming clear to everyone that our model from day one was that we need to be rational, put everything in the context of the overall epidemiological situation to function as much as possible, and not make decisions that we will soon change. We are all affected in different ways, and we all suffer because of it. Solidarity could and should now be increasingly oriented towards becoming aware of the risks and problems that the epidemic brings to certain sections of the population. The fact is that the most at risk are the elderly, the chronically ill, and they are certainly not the ones looking for measures to be eased. When they give in, they are in the group of those most at risk. That’s why everyone needs to see what they can do to protect the most vulnerable. They need to take care of themselves, adhere to measures, and insist that everyone who comes close to them, especially younger family members, adheres to the measures. I want to say that different groups need to think for themselves about the epidemic risks. If we achieve a kind of understanding, there will be less and less need to impose something as behavior. The open-close approach is slowly being exhausted."

To read more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 22 February 2021

Mass Vaccination Begins in Zagreb: Over 65s, Chronic Patients First in Line

February 22, 2021 - Mass vaccination begins in Zagreb today for people over 65 and chronic patients.

Jutarnji List reports that this week, 16,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines should be distributed to family medicine clinics in Zagreb to vaccinate people over 65 and chronic patients, reveals the Zagreb Teaching Institute for Public Health "Dr. Andrija Štampar."

So far, about 85,000 Zagreb citizens who have entered this category have applied for vaccination, and the Institute says that the number is increasing every day. Citizens will be vaccinated by about 400 medical teams of family medicine, with 35 percent voting for vaccination in their offices. In contrast, the rest will be vaccinated at one of the 19 points provided for that purpose in the city.

The mass vaccination of people over the age of 65 and chronic patients started on Saturday in Međimurje as well.

Everything is ready for vaccination in Zagreb, said Zvonimir Šostar, director of the Institute of Public Health 'Dr. Andrija Štampar' for HRT.

"We have 12,000 doses of AstraZeneca at our disposal, so three vials would be given to each vaccinee, some 35 percent of whom will be vaccinated in their organizations and 65 percent at 19 points. Moderna did not arrive here last week, although it was announced, I believe it will come today or tomorrow, so we will immediately forward another bottle of Moderna to our colleagues, i.e., 10 doses," said Šostar.

He also explained that the Moderna vaccine must be transported frozen, while the AstraZeneca does not require special conditions. Vaccine delivery will end this afternoon.

"We are doing a huge job, and the employees are working until 11 pm, midnight," said Šostar and added that there is no fear about the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine. If all goes well, 17,000 people could receive the vaccine this week.

"All the vaccine in this world that is used protects you from severe forms of the disease, from hospitalization, and ultimately from ventilators," Šostar added for HRT.

"Every week, more and more people apply to doctors for vaccinations, and the younger population has recently started applying," said Mirela Marković, a member of the executive board of KoHOM, whose office begins vaccination tomorrow morning.

To read more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 19 February 2021

Plenkovic: Vaccines Must Protect Croatian Citizens Until Tourist Season

February 19, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said at Thursday's Government's that vaccines must protect Croatian citizens until the tourist season. 

HRTurizam reports that if the epidemiological situation continues to develop in a good direction, measures could be further eased from March 1, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković pointed out at Thursday's 44th Government session.

Prime Minister Plenković said that the trend of declining COVID-19 cases continues for the tenth week in a row and that the weekly average is 75 confirmed cases per million inhabitants. He added that the dynamics of vaccination are intensifying. With new shipments, there will be over 700,000 doses in Croatia by the end of March, which will significantly increase the number of vaccinated citizens.

Whether this means that catering facilities or at least terraces will finally open remains to be seen.

The weekly average is 75 confirmed cases per million inhabitants, which puts Croatia in third place in the European Union, behind Finland and Denmark.

Plenković: We expect significantly more vaccine doses by June to ensure maximum protection of citizens until the tourist season

By the tourist season, we want to ensure the maximum possible protection of citizens with the vaccine, said Plenković and added that the Government's task is to ensure as many vaccine doses by the end of the first quarter and reminded that another 600,000 doses should arrive in Croatia by the end of March. He added that significantly more doses should come in April, May, and June to ensure maximum protection for citizens until the tourist season.

"Croatia, like other members of the European Union, relies on the European Medicines Agency for the safety and reliability of vaccines and medicines. Something that ultimately goes directly into the context of any of our fellow citizens' health conditions must be reliable. We need to have confidence in the vaccine or drug that is coming to our market. The key is that once the EMA approves a drug and all agencies confirm it at the national level, then the responsibility for that drug or for that vaccine lies with the pharmaceutical company. In the variant that we put this medicine on the market without these filters, then we also respond in that way, and that is why Hungary went through the verification procedure," Plenković said about the possibility of purchasing the Russian vaccine two days ago.

If the reliability of these vaccines is proven, additional quantities will be used to speed up the vaccination process, Plenković added, emphasizing that Croatia is not currently considering vaccine production but aims to protect citizens with the purchased vaccines.

By the way, Croatia ordered 2.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, 1.9 million doses of Pfizer, one million doses of Moderna, and one million doses of Johnson & Johnson. It is important to emphasize how all three vaccines are effective so that there are no fatalities, severe symptoms, hospitalization, and respirators.

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Monday, 15 February 2021

Sputnik V Vaccine in Croatia: Russia Ready to Deliver

February 15, 2021 - Spokesman of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Croatia, Matvey Sidorov, spoke about the possibility of the Sputnik V vaccine in Croatia. 

The spokesman of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Croatia, Matvey Sidorov, was a guest of New Day on N1. He spoke about the Russian vaccine Sputnik V and the possible delivery of that vaccine to Croatia.

Sidorov did not want to talk about the meeting between Prime Minister Plenković and the Russian ambassador before the government announced them.

"Sputnik V was on the table, and the Russian ambassador conveyed good intentions. We spoke about possibilities and details," he said.

He also cited the example of a European Union member state that already uses the Sputnik V vaccine.

"We have such an example; it is Hungary. An agreement was concluded on January 22, and on February 1, the vaccine arrived in Hungary," Sidorov said.

The number of vaccines is a complex and logistical issue, Sidorov said, stating that it is a matter that the appropriate people in the departments could solve.

“Palestine got the vaccine in three weeks, but it was through Israel. Two weeks is the normal approximate speed of delivery, but this should be resolved between the Russian manufacturer and the appropriate body in the Republic of Croatia according to your vaccination plan," said Sidorov.

He reiterated that they are always ready to help.

"We will not use it as a geopolitical benefit. We want to vaccinate the whole world as soon as possible. We also consider an agreement on the production of Russian vaccines in other countries possible," Sidorov added.

Sidorov noted that Russia had not set any conditions on the table for importing vaccines and thinks that there will be no such conditions.

Sidorov said 2.5 million citizens were vaccinated in Russia last week, and now there are just about 3 million people.

“Mass free vaccinations started on January 18. There are several mobile centers in Moscow and other major cities. Every citizen of Russia or foreign citizen who has a residence in Russia can be vaccinated," he explained.

No one has yet been vaccinated at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Zagreb.

"It would take at least three weeks to go to Russia. That is why we are waiting for Sputnik V in Croatia. We cannot be vaccinated on the territory of the Republic of Croatia without the appropriate permits from state bodies," Sidorov said.

He recalled a study in the medical journal The Lancet that reported that the Sputnik V vaccine's effectiveness was 91.8 percent.

“We find it quite effective, at the level of any other vaccine in the world. We are confident about this vaccine," Sidorov said.

Asked why the Russian vaccine has not yet been approved in the European Union, he replied: “I can't say. We have sent a request to the European Medicines Agency, and we are waiting for an official response from them. We are ready for that. I don't really know why it's not going in that direction."

The number of vaccine doses delivered would depend entirely on the relevant bodies' ideas and plans in Croatia.

"As we agree, so it will be. I do not see any limit on the number of doses. I don't see any obstacles to a large number of doses," said Sidorov.

He once again noted that the quantity would depend on Croatia's official requirements.

"We are always ready for dialogue. Our embassy is ready to do it as soon as possible and deliver it," he concluded.

Illustration by Little Shiva

To read more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 11 February 2021

PM: AstraZeneca Vaccine Protects Elderly from Death, Ventilators, Graver Symptoms

ZAGREB, 11 February, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine protected the elderly against death, ventilators and more serious symptoms, and that therefore there were no obstacles to administering it to people over 65.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting, he said that this morning he spoke with representatives of pensioner unions and associations which demand that people over 65 are not given the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Plenković told the public, notably older people, that all three COVID vaccines, Pfizer's, Moderna's and AstraZeneca's, "are 100% effective against death, against situations on ventilators and more serious symptoms."

He said that according to the information at the government's disposal, there were no obstacles to people over 65 receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

"We believe that in these circumstances as many people as possible whose health is at risk, whose health is fragile, who are older, to whom coronavirus can cause major health damage in a short time, should be vaccinated."

Plenković said additional studies and trials would confirm that the AstraZeneca vaccine was equally effective in reducing the number of COVID deaths in Croatia.

The number of new infections keeps falling

Speaking of the epidemic, he said the decrease in new infections was continuing, as confirmed by this week's numbers.

Today Croatia is third in the EU by the weekly average of confirmed cases per million inhabitants and has the fifth largest two-week decrease in COVID deaths, he added.

"We are in the winter months and a strong cold wave has been announced, the British virus strain has been identified, so many European countries, which have much stricter measures, are extending or further restricting them."

Plenković said there were indications that vaccine deliveries would step up and that greater quantities could be expected by the end of March.

Croatia has received about 150,000 doses, another 600,000 are expected by the end of March, so it will be possible to vaccinate a markedly larger number of people, he added.

It is important that the Health Ministry, the Croatian Institute of Public Health, hospitals and general practitioners ensure mass vaccination, he said.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Epidemiologist Bernard Kaic: 8 Infected with UK Coronavirus Variant, In Croatia Since January

February 10, 2021 – At today's Civil Protection Headquarters' press conference, Croatian epidemiologist Bernard Kaic stated that there are eight more infected with the British variant of coronavirus in Croatia. Interior Minister Davor Božinović said that the virus has been present in Croatia since January 20th, 2021.

In the past 24 hours, 577 new cases have been recorded, so the number of active cases in Croatia today is 2596. Among them, 1,055 patients are in hospital, of which 92 are on respirators. Fourteen people died. Epidemiologist Bernard Kaić said that the number of infections in Croatia is decreasing from week to week.

"These 577 cases are less than last week. The share of positives among those tested is also falling. However, these are still large numbers compared to spring. The daily incidence is 146 per 100,000. We are among the better in the EU; only four countries have a lower incidence. As for the counties, the lowest incidence of 14 days is in Istria County with 42 per 100,000, followed by Požega-Slavonia County with 63, and the highest in Split-Dalmatia County," Kaić said.

He added that 655 side effects had been reported on the Pfizer vaccine and 17 on the Moderna vaccine to date. As he says, side effects were expected. Twenty-nine allergic reactions have been reported, but all have passed without any consequences.

Samples of the new variant taken at the end of January

Alemka Markotić talked about the British variant of coronavirus that appeared in Croatia today. The first three cases have been confirmed.

"Colleagues from the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) said they had preliminary results for eight patients, but they will inform the public in more detail. As for the samples we confirmed, one is a 50-year-old man from the Family Medicine Practice; the clinic has no data on his clinical state. There is a 3,5-year-old child, who had symptoms of the gastrointestinal tract, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, and the parents are positive. A third is a 34-year-old man, and we have no information about him," Markotić said.

She added that what they found was no surprise and that it was a matter of time when the new variant of coronavirus would be detected in Croatia. It was good that a significant number of new patients connected with the new variant could not be seen. However, she stressed that we still need to be very responsible, vigilant, and adhere to measures.

Kaić said that there is no data for these eight positive cases yet. It is only known that the samples were taken in the second half of January. They still do not know all the contacts of the infected with the new strain, but they have been working on it since early morning. They will undoubtedly be required to be in self-isolation.

"Those eight infected are from Zagreb, Sisak, and Vukovar-Srijem County. Samples were taken in the second half of January. That means we had a new strain back then. We need to do everything we can to reduce the spread of the new variant so as not to increase the incidence," Kaić said.

Beroš: All three types of vaccines are effective

"It is crucial to detect the new variant's existence by sequencing methods we have undertaken, and it is important to respond epidemiologically to new challenges. The whole of Europe is on alert. This is an opportunity to show responsible behavior once again. Our vigilance has created a good basis for a new fight. We will have to balance between milder and stricter measures," said Health Minister Vili Beroš.

As for the vaccines, Beroš said that the vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine has begun. The vaccination with Pfizer and Moderna will continue, and the second phase will start when it is the turn of senior citizens and people with comorbidities.

He stressed that none of the vaccines in Croatia have age restrictions. Regardless of the effectiveness' percentages, all three vaccines in the 100 percent range prevent the onset of the most severe forms of the disease, hospitalization, and death.

"We use what is available, and these are three types of vaccines that the whole world considers to be effective," Beroš said.

The most vulnerable are a priority in vaccination

Journalists asked the Civil Protection Headquarters about the University of Zagreb rector Damir Boras, who was allegedly vaccinated "before his turn", which caused a great deal of public attention.

"I immediately asked for a statement, and I condemn the vaccination before your turn. We have adopted a vaccination plan. The deprivation of the rights of the most vulnerable is not acceptable. I will wait for a response from the Rebro Clinical Hospital Center, and we will see. I appeal to all those who carry out vaccination to do it according to the vaccination plan," said Beroš.

When asked how they decide what to do with unused doses, Kaić said there is no prescribed protocol.

"A common-sense protocol is to vaccinate someone interested rather than throw away the vaccine, especially when we don't have enough vaccine, regardless of who is vaccinated to get another dose when needed. Likewise, suppose it is possible to start vaccinating in dispensaries, and somewhere the last user of a nursing home or the last health worker in the area has not yet been given. In that case, the first phase of vaccination inevitably overlaps with the second. Where would we come from not giving the vaccine we have. Decent quantities have arrived this week; next week, they are coming again. If we do not give the vaccine until the first phase is resolved, it would be harmful to delay vaccination," said Kaić.

Beroš said he did not believe the rumors that people were getting vaccinated before their turn. He said he condemned such actions. "We are all equal, but the most vulnerable must have priority," he said.

Božinović: New decision on measures to protect both people and economy

When asked by journalists about how a new variant of coronavirus entered Croatia, Alemka Markotić answered – by human migration.

"We will try to find out in detail where they were imported from. But viruses migrate along with humans. It would not be like that if there were no such migrations. It is a variant that is spreading faster. It is among us, and we must adhere to the measures in force to prevent the spread, such as in Ireland, Portugal. The whole world is in fear of spreading. If the health care system is burdened, the number of dead will also increase. In Germany, they are proposing even stricter measures," Markotić said.

Interior Minister Davor Božinović commented on the easing of measures.

"We have to pay attention to the new strain, but that is not a reason to panic. We have to monitor the situation in European countries. Each country reacted differently, and all this happens when vaccination does not go as planned. We must also take into account the forecast announcing low temperatures. So, we will take all this into account," Božinović said.

He added that a new variant of the coronavirus has been present in Croatia since January 20, 2021, since the numbers of newly infected people have been falling.

"The new variant will also be discussed at the Scientific Council to make a decision that will protect people, but also which must be rational for economic activities," Božinović said.

A new strain of coronavirus will be detected by random testing, and Markotić said they would also react as soon as they notice that someone has come from abroad or that there are more hospitalized or infected in an area. It takes about two weeks to complete the whole process because a regular PCR test does not do it, but the process is more complicated.

Sources: Index.hr, Jutarnji list

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Monday, 8 February 2021

Vaccination in Croatia: 25,200 Doses of Moderna and AstraZeneca to be Distributed Today

February 8, 2021 - Vaccination in Croatia continues as the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines will be distributed in Slavonia and Dalmatia on Monday. 

HRT reports that Croatia's favorable epidemiological situation continues, as 276 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed on Sunday. The share of positive cases among those tested was 5.3%. Unfortunately, another 25 patients died.

The number of patients in hospital treatment and on ventilators was the same as Saturday - 1,142 patients are in hospital, and 107 are on ventilators.

On Monday, 25,200 doses of the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccine will be distributed in Croatia. Those over the age of 65, the chronically ill, and everyone else who wants to be vaccinated will be vaccinated.

Epidemiologist Iva Pem Novosel (Croatian Public Health Institute) explained that the distribution to Slavonia and Dalmatia starts on Monday. Istria and central Croatia will receive doses on Wednesday, and the northern part of Croatia will receive them on Friday. Vaccine quantities are determined in proportion to the population.

Although pensioners' associations are asking to postpone the vaccination of the elderly with the AstraZeneca vaccine, Pem Novosel says that Croatia's situation is not such that vaccination should be postponed.

"Already after the first dose, the effectiveness develops in three weeks, and when two full doses are received with the maximum interval of 12 weeks, that efficiency is as much as 82%," she says.

On Sunday, Split-Dalmatia and Primorje-Gorski Kotar counties were in the lead in terms of the number of infected people.

Vladimir Mićović, NZJZ director of Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, called for caution when easing measures.

He is in favor of, he said, a certain gradual opening if there are indicators and preconditions, and above all, the opening of schools. He also mentioned, "coffee on terraces."

"Maybe we should think about it if there are conditions," he said.

On Monday, high school students return to the classroom in Zagreb and Lika-Senj County.

"Almost 30,000 additional high school students from Zagreb will return to school on Monday. All those schools that worked according to model A in the first half of the year will work according to the same model Monday, and it is difficult to say how this will affect the epidemiological situation," says Ivica Lovrić, head of the Zagreb City Office for Education.

Compared to December, Zagreb schools are 10 times less infected, he added.

"We have 114 infected students and 86 infected employees. If we put this in the context of somewhere around 100,000 children and employees coming to schools, then that really isn’t a big number. We hope that the number will not grow; of course, if the epidemiological situation worsens, we will again consider the introduction of model C," he points out.

Valentina Zdunić, head of the Department for Social Activities of Lika-Senj County, announced that as of Monday, a total of 1,135 high school students would be in school. She emphasized that the schools are ready and that if the epidemiological situation worsens, they will switch to another teaching model.

To prevent this from happening, adhering to epidemiological guidelines is the best option.

To read more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 7 February 2021

Vaccination of General Population in Croatia in Early Spring?

February 7, 2021 - Could the general population in Croatia be vaccinated in early spring? One Croatian Public Health Institute epidemiologist weighs in.

Croatian Public Health Institute epidemiologist Iva Pem Novosel said for Dnevnik N1 that the start of vaccination of all age groups against coronavirus could be expected in early spring.

However, waiting for the vaccine depends on its delivery, said Iva Pem Novosel.

"I advise everyone to get vaccinated if they have the opportunity, not to wait. All vaccines, including AstraZeneca - if it has a slightly lower effect than the other two, work to protect severe forms of the infection and those that end in death. All vaccines protect against them. That is the most important thing we need to achieve," says Iva Pem Novosel.

The effectiveness of the first dose is satisfactory, and protection is achieved after three weeks, she added.

"It’s hard for me to say when the vaccination will end; we know how many older people we have, but we don’t know how many will be vaccinated. However, the number of those who want to be vaccinated is growing every day. This is good both for the protection of the individual and for the protection of the community. This will bring us collective immunity faster," said the epidemiologist.

People over the age of 65 are now vaccinated, followed by people with chronic diseases, as they are all members of the risk group who can get a severe form of the infection with complications. If the delivery dynamics are adequate, other citizens can be vaccinated in early spring, she said.

Will the EMA approve the Russian vaccine?

"This process may have already begun, so it will likely happen. I think we will get the next vaccines quickly, and we will be in a better situation and have a choice," said Pem Novosel.

Serbia announced the possibility of producing Sputnik. Can something similar be expected in Croatia?

"It would be ideal if it could be implemented, so experts from Immunology should be asked about it," she said.

She said she was sorry that some entrepreneurs were suffering when it comes to measures, but she also said that the epidemic was not even close to ending.

"We sympathize with them. However, we must remind them that the epidemic is not even close to the end, with all our positive and optimistic wishes. Vaccination is in the initial phase, we now have about two percent vaccinated in the population, and it is desirable to vaccinate 50 percent of the population," said the epidemiologist.

She also said that it is possible that a new strain has crept in but that it is comforting that the numbers are satisfactory.

"But if we gave in a little and if there was a new strain, there would be problems again. Any opening, for example, gyms and cafe terraces, would still mean that certain measures should be adhered to. Measures should be respected everywhere and at every opportunity," said Iva Pem Novosel.

To read more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

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