Thursday, 20 January 2022

Beroš: COVID Restrictions Not to Be Lifted for Now Given Low Vaccination Rate

ZAGREB, 20 Jan 2022 - Due to its low vaccination rate, Croatia, for now, cannot consider lifting some of the COVID restrictions, and medical professionals continue to recommend compliance with the epidemiological measures in place to contain the virus, Health Minister Vili Beroš said at a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

He was commenting on plans by countries such as the United Kingdom and Israel, which have high vaccination rates, to lift the restrictions and the COVID pass mandate. He warned that in Croatia, a considerable number of people aged 75 and over were unvaccinated.

Despite the surge in the number of new infections, for now, there has been no increase in the number of COVID hospitalizations, so health care is also available to non-COVID patients, the health minister said.

"Today, 1,792 infected persons are being treated in hospitals, four fewer than yesterday. The COVID bed occupancy rate is 53.4 percent, which allows for other patients to be provided with the necessary health care as well," Beroš said.

Croatia today registered a record 17,489 new COVID cases, with the PCR test positivity rate reaching 51.44 percent and the rapid antigen test positivity rate 18.82 percent. The number of COVID patients on ventilators today is 195, nine fewer than on Wednesday. 

Beroš said that 18.63 percent of the total population had received an additional vaccine dose.

He noted that people being admitted to hospitals with the Omicron variant of the virus were mostly elderly and unvaccinated with other underlying conditions.

He said that the latest data published by the European Medicines Agency showed that mRNA COVID vaccines were safe during pregnancy.

The head of the national COVID response team, Interior Minister Davor Božinović, said that the travel ban on arrivals from South Africa and other African countries where the Omicron variant first appeared had been lifted given that this variant has become dominant in Croatia and Europe.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Thursday, 13 January 2022

Beroš: More Hospitalized COVID Patients in Areas with Lower Levels of Vaccination

ZAGREB, 13 Jan 2022 - Health Minister Vili Beroš told the cabinet on Thursday that in the past 24 hours, 46.28% of those tested proved positive to the novel coronavirus and that areas with low levels of immunisation showed a higher number of hospitalised COVID patients. 

The number of hospitalised patients has increased along the entire coast and KBC Split is experiencing the biggest pressure. The Križine hospital has opened yet another COVID ward and 18 nurses from other institutions have been assigned to the hospital, said Beroš.

The situation in the Zadar General Hospital has also deteriorated. The highest number of COVID patients is present in Split, Zagreb and Rijeka.

To date, 4.9 million doses of COVID vaccine have been administered and 642,406 people have received an additional shot.

District nurse services have contacted 1,611 elderly citizens this week and 643, or 40% have agreed to get vaccinated.

Fourth and fifth waves have overlapped

Beroš said that testing in health institutions is being stepped up, adding that the only logical modus operandi was for the primary health care services to take on testing and a decision in that regard would be made today.

"The fourth and fifth waves have overlapped, as have the Delta and Omicron variants. It is expected that the highest pressure in the days to come will be where the inoculation rate is lower," he said.

Currently, there are 53,051 active cases of the novel coronavirus in Croatia, plus 22,000 citizens who are self-isolating.

Epidemiologists expect the Omicron variant will infect the majority of the population, but those who have been vaccinated will experience only mild symptoms while those who haven't are more likely to develop grave symptoms and possibly fatal outcomes, the health minister said.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Monday, 10 January 2022

Croatian Rapid Antigen Tests to be Enough for Proof of COVID-19

January the 10th, 2022 - A big change is coming to the fight against coronavirus in Croatia, as Croatian rapid antigen tests (RAT/BAT) will soon be enough to prove a COVID-19 infection, without the need for an additional PCR test to back up a positive antigen result.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, a PCR test will no longer be mandatory, and soon Croatian rapid antigen tests will be enough to detect and prove a COVID-19 infection and later obtain EU digital covid certification, as was announced on Monday by Health Minister Vili Beros, who visited KBC Split together with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.

"The testing paradigm will change, PCR tests will no longer be mandatory, and contraction of the disease will be able to be proven with the results of Croatian rapid antigen tests,'' Beros said in response to journalists' remarks about the long waiting times for PCR testing.

The rest of the EU still requires a negative PCR test...

In this regard, a meeting of the Croatian National Institute of Public Health will be held tomorrow to enshrine the rule that rapid antigen tests will be able to be performed based on a doctor's referral to prove the existence of the disease. "It's a response to the emergence of a new variant (Omicron) of the virus," Beros said.

With a negative rapid antigen test, it will be possible to obtain an EU digital covid certificate that will be valid here in Croatia, but the rest of the EU still requires a negative PCR test in order for it to be valid for them, too. If you're vaccinated with two or three doses and already have a certificate based on your vaccination, this of course doesn't apply to you.

In the past 24 hours, 1,578 new cases of coronavirus infection were recorded in Croatia, and the percentage of positives among those tested stood at 36.33 percent.

"We're recording an increase in the number of new infections when compared to last Monday, when there were 1103 newly infected people recorded," said the Minister after visiting the Clinical Hospital in Split, where the situation has been somewhat dramatic over more recent days due to the large influx of patients.

He stated that the fact that Split-Dalmatia County has only had about 50 people coming for their first dose of the vaccine per day to be devastating, reiterating that mandatory vaccination is not an option for Croatia for now, but if the situation worsens, it will most certainly be considered.

Hospitals are under more pressure by the coast than in the continental part of the country.

He called people to think about the next tourist season because there is a possibility that the EC will introduce vaccination of the domicile population as a condition for the arrival of tourists.

Due to the emergence of the new Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, Croatian hospitals are becoming more and more crowded, but this is happening much more significantly in coastal regions and not in continental regions, which have a far better vaccination rate.

In this regard, Beros compared KBC Split and KBC Osijek. "At KBC Split, the occupancy rate is 92.7 percent, and the respirator occupancy rate is 56.79 percent, compared to Osijek, where the occupancy rate is 51.85 percent, and the respirator occupancy rate is just 14.12 percent." He also reported that 66.59 percent of the adult population in the Republic of Croatia had been vaccinated with at least one dose of the vaccine.

Plenkovic called on people over the age of 60 to get vaccinated

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic reiterated the importance of getting fully vaccinated and then receiving a booster dose, especially for residents of Split-Dalmatia County, where a large number of new cases of infection have been reported.

"We have 217 hospitalised people here because of COVID-19, 49 of them have had to be placed on respirators. I'd especially like to call on senior citizens who are at the greatest risk of complications, and by that I mean all those over 60. It's up to them and their families to explain and convey to them why it's good to get vaccinated and thus have greater protection,'' said Plenkovic.

On Monday, the Prime Minister participated in a meeting with the Management Board of KBC Split, and speaking about the development projects of the hospital, he noted that the unified emergency hospital reception in Split will be completed by 2023.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Minister Says Surge in New Cases Due to Omicron, Festivity Celebrations

ZAGREB, 4 Jan 2021 - Rising coronavirus numbers are partly due to the appearance of the Omicron variant of the virus and partly due to gatherings and celebrations during the Christmas and New Year holidays, Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Tuesday.

So far, there have been 113 highly likely cases of the new variant in Croatia, and of the 1,000 samples sent from Croatia to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, three have turned out to be positive.

New COVID cases keep growing by the week, and we can say that the fifth wave of the pandemic has started already, without any pause between it and the previous, fourth wave, the minister said.

Beroš said that the highly transmissible Omicron variant will reach everybody and some of the vaccinated will not manage to avoid the infection.

"However, the immunized can expect milder symptoms and better protection," he said.

Asked by the press whether any harsher restrictions are on the table, the minister said that the current COVID protocols are well-balanced, underlining the importance of avoiding unnecessary contacts.

Costs incurred to curb the impact of COVID-19 exceed €400 million

At the end of 2021, costs incurred in the battle against the virus exceeded three billion kuna, he said.

Commenting on the appearance of flurona, the simultaneous infection with coronavirus and influenza virus, the minister said that a 27-year-old female patient, the first case of this mix of the two infections, was stable and in good shape.

The head of the Zagreb-based hospital for infectious diseases, Dr. Alemka Markotić, said that a mix of two or more infections was neither extraordinary nor spectacular.

She said that the 27-year-old patient had developed mild symptoms.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Thursday, 30 December 2021

Health Minister Calls on Citizens to Get Booster

ZAGREB, 30 Dec 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš reiterated on Thursday that the fifth wave of COVID-19 infection, with the Omicron variant, was expected in the second half of January and once again called on citizens to get a booster jab, warning that most likely everyone will come into contact with Omicron.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting, he said there were 24 confirmed Omicron cases in Croatia but that without stepping up vaccination and strictly complying with the rules, "we probably won't be able to avoid the effects of the full force of the fifth wave in the second half of January."

Beroš said 42% of the tests done in the last 24 hours were positive and that Dalmatia, which has the lowest vaccination rate, accounted for the highest numbers.

Despite a gradual decline in hospitalizations, hospitals are constantly on alert as new cases are rising again. To date, 66.22% of adults have been vaccinated, including 487,083 with a booster.

Interior Minister Davor Božinović, who heads the COVID-19 crisis management team, called on citizens to maintain rational caution during the New Year's holidays.

He said the team had extended the current COVID protocols for another month. They refer to gatherings, crossing the border, wearing masks, shops' opening hours, public transport, and an entry ban for persons from many African countries.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Minister: Croatia Still Not Mulling Mandatory Vaccination Against COVID

ZAGREB, 2 Dec 2021 - The idea of compulsory vaccination against coronavirus is not yet on the government's agenda, however, anti-epidemic measures will depend on the epidemiological situation, Croatian Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Thursday.

The minister did not rule out the possibility of the fifth wave of the pandemic hitting Croatia if the country failed to reach the necessary vaccination rate.

"We have been emphasizing all along that vaccination is voluntary, and we have not considered the vaccination mandate. Since the onset of the pandemic we have been saying that all the measures are on the table and that epidemiological developments shape our choice of the measures," Beroš told a news conference after the government's meeting today.

He recalled that in Europe there are warnings that if a certain vaccination rate is not achieved, the fifth wave of the pandemic is possible in February.

"No one can know what awaits us so I cannot completely rule out the introduction of mandatory vaccination," Beroš said, admitting that mandatory vaccination could deepen the divisions in society and provoke resistance.

"Therefore, let us get vaccinated to deter a possible fifth wave and the emergence of new variants (of the virus)."

Croatia has seen a decline in new coronavirus numbers over recent days, which the minister associated with more and more people getting inoculated and with the introduction of the COVID certificate mandate.

Although he expressed hope for a more serene Christmas season, the minister called for exercising caution.

As for the inclusion of his name on the "Croatian Traitors" website, Beroš said that he felt extremely bad about it.

"Every single move and decision we make... is aimed at protecting the health of Croatian citizens. Anything else is bad stories that will be judged by history," the minister said.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Minister Says Number of New Infections Down Compared to Last Week

ZAGREB, 2 Dec 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said at a government session on Thursday that the number of new coronavirus infections was down 14.5% from the previous week and that the number of hospitalizations was also slightly smaller even though pressure on the health system was still significant.

The test positivity rate in the past 24 hours was 38.35%, a drop of 14.5% compared to last week and 26.5% compared to two weeks ago.

A total of 2,391 people are hospitalized, which is a slight decrease in the number of hospitalizations. In the past 24 hours, 30 people were put on ventilators and 24 of them are unvaccinated, said Beroš.

Despite the decline in the number of infections, hospitals are still under strain and the situation is most difficult in the northwest of Croatia, in the hospitals in Zabok, Varaždin, Čakovec and Koprivnica, where nurses and ventilators from other health institutions are being sent.

"The capacity for the admission of COVID-19 patients keeps increasing, and over the past month, the number of beds for those patients was increased from 2,253 to 3,580, which is currently insufficient. The number of hospitalizations in that period grew by 85%, from 1,330 to 2,545," he said.

As for the new coronavirus variant Omicron, the minister said that it was considered more dangerous because it had twice as many mutations as the Delta variant. However, experts note that vaccines continue to provide a high degree of protection from severe clinical symptoms and hospitalization, he said.

A total of 209,000 people have received the third vaccine dose so far.

As for vaccination with the first and second doses, one should strive to achieve the vaccination rate of Zagreb (75%), with the 70-74 age group having the highest vaccination rate, with 90% having received at least one shot.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

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.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Saturday, 6 November 2021

Minister Says Croatia at Peak of 4th Wave of Pandemic

ZAGREB, 6 Nov 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš told the national radio (HR) on Saturday morning that over 7,000 new cases of the infection with coronavirus had been registered in the last 24 hours.

Croatia is now at the peak of the new wave of the pandemic and unfortunately, today we have registered over 7,000 new cases.

The minister declined to predict the scenarios for the future.

Let us do our best, and the best thing is to get vaccinated and comply with the basic anti-epidemic measures, said Beroš.

He said that the hospitals were not under strain such was the case in the previous waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He called for responsible behavior of all so as to prevent an excessive burden on the healthcare system.

Vaccination reduces possible reservoirs for the virus, he said, reiterating the benefits of immunization such as fewer chances of getting seriously ill.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Beroš Announces Wider Use of COVID Certificates

ZAGREB, 4 Nov 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš announced on Thursday that the national COVID-19 crisis management team would introduce a new package of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, including wider use of COVID certificates, but there would not be a new lockdown.

"We are completely clear that we must react. A new package of measures is being hammered out and it will be presented at a press conference tomorrow. Epidemiologists will this time again put forward measures which will be agreed on with the goal of preventing the spread of the infection, a further rise in the number of new cases, and ensuring the stability of the health system," Beroš told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

He confirmed that the new measures included a wider use of COVID certificates, although he "certainly hopes that we wouldn't need a COVID certificate to go for a coffee or to a shopping center".

"There are a number of other measures with which we can try to prevent the further spread of the virus. We'll see everything tomorrow," said Beroš, noting that the new measures sought to strike a balance between restrictions and normal life.

He underscored that the citizens who had been vaccinated had been taken into account in the new package of measures.

"There cannot be a new lockdown. Those who are truly protected, those who have recovered from the infection and been vaccinated, we cannot restrict their lives," Beroš said.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

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