Sunday, 17 October 2021

Minister Attends Course in Medical Response to Major Incidents

ZAGREB, 17 Oct, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš on Sunday attended a course in medical response to major incidents at the "Dr. Josip Benčević" Hospital in Slavonski Brod, saying that the course integrated the competence and experience of the entire health system.

It is excellent that the course is being held in Slavonski Brod but we must train experts in other regions as well, Beroš said, announcing that the Croatian Emergency Medicine Institute would finance ten such courses across the country in the next two years.

Beroš recalled that a result of training of Croatian medical workers was also the timely response to an accident that happened this past summer, when a bus with Kosovo registration plates overturned on a highway in Croatia. The accident resulted in a large number of injured passengers and 10 fatalities.

The natural disasters that have hit Croatia over a short period of time also point to the importance of enhancing the competencies of the emergency services, he said.

"In this hospital courses like this one have been held for 15 years. So far 449 professionals have attended them and an additional 60 are attending this course," he said.

The Slavonski Brod course is a post-graduate course of the European Society for Trauma and Emergency Surgery. It has been organised for the eighth year by the Health Ministry, the Croatian Institute for Emergency Medicine and the Slavonski Brod-based Croatian Society for Disaster Medicine.

The director of the "Dr. Josip Benčević" Hospital, Josip Samardžić, said that the hospital has competent staff as well as experience from the 1991-95 war, which it has transformed into a modern response to major disasters.

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Saturday, 16 October 2021

Hospitals Need Strong Wall of Anti-epidemic Measures, Says Minister

ZAGREB, 16 Oct, 2021 - Commenting on the coronavirus entering the hospital system and claiming the life of a patient in Rijeka, Health Minister Vili Beroš on Saturday warned again about the importance of strong epidemiological rules in the health system, notably hospitals.

"The case of the patient at the KBC Rijeka hospital shows that there is no 100% safety, that the virus cannot be prevented at all times, and that it cannot be detected at a certain stage of the incubation period," the minister said, stressing that the most important thing was that KBC Rijeka staff had acted appropriately and that epidemiologists had prevented the further spreading of the virus.

Beroš noted that other patients were stable and that "there is no danger of the virus further spreading."

According to media reports, a 76-year-old man, admitted to KBC Rijeka for treatment of the carotid arteries, was negative for coronavirus upon admission, having been vaccinated with two doses, however, five days later he was diagnosed with COVID-19 and died.

Beroš once again called on citizens to get vaccinated, noting that of the 15 latest fatalities, 12 had not been vaccinated.

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Saturday, 16 October 2021

PM: Protests Outside COVID-19 Response Team’s Members’ Homes a Show

ZAGREB, 16 Oct, 2021 - In a comment on protests held outside the homes of members of the national coronavirus crisis management team, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Saturday that such shows were unnecessary as the government was acting responsibly in the coronavirus crisis.

"All those shows... are unnecessary because the government has acted reasonably, responsibly, appropriately and sensitively with regard to all possible segments of state functioning in the 600 days of the pandemic; other countries had months-long lockdowns," the PM said after a conference on agriculture, fisheries and forestry in Zagreb.

Noting that in Croatia there was a ban only on large gatherings and the work of night clubs, Plenković said that the protests did not seem rational, speculating if their real purpose was to generate social unrest.

About a dozen citizens gathered outside Health Minister Vili Beroš's home on Thursday evening after a Religious Instruction teacher from Križevci called on them to do so on his Facebook profile due to restrictions on visits to hospitalised children.

Beroš said that he understood their dissatisfaction, but that the place for dealing with such matters should be the Health Ministry.

Another group of protesters on Friday protested outside the home of the head of Zagreb's Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Alemka Markotić.

Asked if the situation could escalate and if members of the coronavirus crisis management team were under police protection since more protests had been announced, Plenković said that as far as he was aware, they were not.

Should someone resort to violence, they will be given police protection, he said, recalling that until the October 2020 terrorist attack "we had been very easy to approach."

"We are a normal, small Central European and Mediterranean country, civilised, warm, and we are good hosts... There are, on occasion, violent individuals but the Croatian people in general are not violent. These are exceptions. I call on them to calm down and be reasonable, there is no reason for drama, there are much worse situations than this," he said.

Asked about a possible parliamentary vote of no confidence in Finance Minister Zdravko Marić, Plenković said that no opposition motion questioning the government's work had been successful so far and neither would the latest one.

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Friday, 15 October 2021

Beroš Responds to Parents Who Demonstrated in Front of His Home

ZAGREB, 15 Oct 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš on Thursday told parents who had demonstrated in front of his home against restrictions on visits to sick children that he understood their dissatisfaction, but that the place for dealing with such matters should be the Health Ministry.

"Neither the Health Ministry nor epidemiologists limited the duration of visits to your sick children," Beroš told a group of parents who had said on Facebook they were protesting because the duration of visits to their sick children was limited to 15 minutes.

The minister said that the national COVID-19 crisis management team and epidemiologists had decided that the parents of sick children being treated in Croatian hospitals and health facilities must meet epidemiological requirements as all other visitors, which means they need to have an EU COVID certificate as proof that they have been vaccinated, have recovered from coronavirus or have been tested for COVID-19.

The organization, time, and duration of visits to sick children, the minister said, is organized by each institution in accordance with its organizational and spatial possibilities, and they are required to inform the parents.

"I understand the dissatisfaction of parents... and I will always stand by them as a doctor, minister, and parent, but I cannot accept the way in which they are expressing their protest," the health minister said.

According to media reports, about a dozen of citizens gathered outside the health minister's home at about 7 pm, at the invitation of a religious education teacher from Križevci, Ivan Pokupac, via Facebook.

In the post, Pokupec said that every day they would visit the home address of one member of the crisis management team for 15 minutes.

Pokupec also wrote that last year parents had been allowed to stay with their children in hospital for 15 minutes, but this time with an additional condition - an EU digital COVID certificate.

He said there was no scientific, epidemiological, or moral argument for this and that the additional requirement served to force the concerned parents to get vaccinated.

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Friday, 15 October 2021

Croatian Emergency Medical Maritime Service to be Richer for 6 Vessels

October the 15th, 2021 - The Croatian Emergency Medical Maritime Service is set to be richer for six fast vessels following the recent signing of a contract with two domestic shipyards.

As Jozo Vrdoljak/Novac/Jutarnji list writes, the Tehnomont Shipyard (Pula) and the Iskra Shipyard 1 from Sibenik have signed a Public Procurement Agreement with the Ministry of Health for the construction of six fast boats for the establishment of emergency medical care on the islands. The work of building and equipping six emergency medical boats is worth around 76.4 million kuna.

The Croatian production consortium won the tender as the most favourable bidder, and that tender was initially announced back in June 2020 by the Ministry of Health for the project "Establishment of an emergency medical maritime service by high-speed boats", funded mostly by EU funds. The agreed construction period is 24 months and the vessels will be stationed in Dubrovnik, Supetar on the island of Brac, Sibenik, Zadar, Rab and Mali Losinj.

The boats will all be purpose-built and equipped for the Croatian Maritime Medical Service and will raise the quality of care for all those who become injured or fall ill on the Croatian coast. They'll also be used for search and rescue missions in cases of maritime accidents and disasters.

"The construction and equipping of six fast boats for the establishment of the Croatian Emergency Maritime Medical Service is a significant step towards even better and more accessible emergency medical care on the Croatian islands," said Minister of Health Vili Beros. The director of the Croatian Institute of Emergency Medicine, Maja Grba-Bujevic, pointed out that this is an important project not only for emergency medicine but also because it represents great progress in maritime medicine across Croatia and in the entire Croatian healthcare system.

The Croatian shipyards Iskra and Tehnomont joined, as mentioned, a larger production consortium to make it easier to get this job, and as far as we know, this is probably just the beginning of their cooperation.

"This is the first step in the cooperation of our two shipyards because there's a mutual will to cooperate on new projects. Of course we'll decide on how things will be done from job to job, but in principle there is a will to cooperate. We have extensive experience in shipbuilding, especially in aluminum. We can't deny the fact that our shipyards are not technologically fully equipped, but professionally speaking, our personnel is very capable of building top-quality ships,'' they pointed out from the Tehnomont shipyard in Pula.

Roko Vuletic, one of the two directors of Iskra shipyard 1, points out that the cooperation of these two Croatian shipyards represents great potential for successful competition with the shipbuilding capacities on other markets as well. "This is an interesting niche, so we can enter other markets. In this way, we've increased our competitiveness and gained competitive advantages for both shipyards,'' concluded Vuletic.

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Thursday, 7 October 2021

Minister Says Vaccination of Health Workers Stepped Up

ZAGREB, 7 Oct 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said at a government session on Thursday that the vaccination of medical staff against COVID-19 had been stepped up and that the current rate was 74%, with the highest increase in vaccination having been reported among nurses.

"Compared to a week ago, the share of unvaccinated staff has dropped by 2.4% and most of the newly vaccinated are nurses and other medical staff, which is an increase of 2.8%," Beroš said.

He commended medical institutions for the good organization of the introduction of COVID-19 certificates in the healthcare sector. So far 11,567 employees have been tested, 41 have been found to be positive for coronavirus, and 36 have refused to get tested, he said.

"By doing so we are not violating anyone's rights, quite the contrary. It is our duty to secure conditions for the safe treatment of every patient," said the minister.

Beroš said that his ministry had formed a commission to monitor the treatment of cancer patients in order to respond to the challenges of the post-COVID period as well as a task force to formulate amendments to the health insurance and health care laws to define new solutions regarding the availability of health care.

Speaking of the national day against breast cancer, the minister said that prevention programs had continued during the pandemic, albeit with a 10% drop.

He noted that Croatia had seen a drop in breast cancer cases of some 25% for the fifth consecutive year.

Irena Petrijevčanin, State Secretary at the Ministry of the Interior, said that the EU digital certificate based on a rapid antigen test was valid for 48 hours, one based on a PCR test for 72 hours, a certificate proving one's recovery from COVID-19 was valid for 180 days and one proving vaccination 365 days.

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Monday, 4 October 2021

Jesuits Say Didn't Authorise Priest to Attend Protest Outside Hospital

ZAGREB, 4 Oct 2021 - The Croatian province of the Society of Jesus said on Monday it did not authorize father Zdravko Knežević to participate in this morning's protest outside a Zagreb hospital against mandatory COVID certificates for health workers.

Knežević was among some 50 protesters who booed Health Minister Vili Beroš upon his arrival there to mark the start of the certificate mandate in the health sector. The media reported that Knežević shouted "treason, the gallows, you are Judases" to Beroš.

In a press release, the Croatian province of the Society of Jesus distanced itself from Knežević's participation in the protest, even though he said he was there as a private person.

The province also distanced itself from his statements at the protest, saying that some of them, as carried by the media, were totally inappropriate. "Because of that, I apologize to everyone who was hurt by them," father Dalibor Renić said in the press release.

"I believe health workers and their leadership deserve our trust and support in their attempts to give citizens the best healthcare in this pandemic crisis," he added.

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Monday, 4 October 2021

20 of 6,236 Health Workers Tested Positive, Says Minister

ZAGREB, 4 Oct 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Monday 6,236 health workers in some 60 medical institutions were tested today, when COVID certificate mandate was introduced in the health sector, and that 20 of the tests came back positive.

"That's another irrefutable argument that the measures are necessary for protecting patients and workers," he tweeted.

Not one test came back negative and four staff did not show up for testing at KBC Zagreb, Croatia's biggest hospital, where a protest was held this morning against mandatory certificates and testing.

As of today, every employee in the health and social care sectors, as well as visitors, must have a COVID certificate. Medical workers without it must be tested twice a week.

The chambers of physicians and nurses supported the mandatory certificates, saying they will contribute to patient's safety, while condemning the protests held outside some hospitals, saying they disrupted the peace patients need for their treatment.

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Monday, 4 October 2021

Protest Against Vili Beroš and COVID Certificates in Zagreb This Morning

October 4, 2021 - Fifty protesters arrived this morning in front of KBC Zagreb to protest against Vili Beroš, Health Minister of Croatia, who came to the hospital at 7 am to mark the beginning of the application of mandatory EU digital covid certificates in health care.

In recent weeks, demonstrations against measures to combat the still current COVID-19 have increased in different parts of the country. In Krapinske-Toplice, for example, some parents gathered for several days outside a primary school to protest against the mandatory use of masks for children. It does not matter if the vaccination rate in Croatia is one of the lowest in Europe, it seems that the position of a large part of the citizenry is clear: no more restrictions.

On a larger scale, some massive protests have been taking place recently in Zagreb, mainly after the Minister of Health, Vili Beroš, announced that from now on health personnel in hospitals should present EU digital covid certificates in order to be able to work. The decision was not well received by a large section of the population, prompting both a large "protest for freedom" in Ban Jelačić Square, as well as a protest led by nurses and other health workers against the measure.

This morning, as Jutarnji List reports, around 50 protesters and opponents of the measure gathered in front of KBC Zagreb to protest against Vili Beroš and EU digital covid certificates. The Croatian Health Minister was in the middle of a press conference to mark the start of the measure. Among the protesters was a priest, Father Zdravko Knezević.

- ''Hangman, hangman!'', shouted the priest.

- ''Hitler's associates ended up on the gallows. Betrayal, betrayal! Judas' misfortunes!'', the priest continued and added that the pandemic was false.

He had a short conversation with Minister Beroš.

"You know everything well", he told Beroš.

protest-against-vili-beroš-3.jpg

A priest, Father Zdravko Knezević, was among the crowd who arrived to protest against Vili Beroš and confront the Health Minister. Photo: (Patrik Macek/PIXSELL)

The protesters, most of whom were citizens and a small number of KBC employees, did not allow Beroš to speak, chanting "shameful decisions", "betrayal" and "resignation", so the minister had to give a statement to the media at the hospital's Directorate.

"No beginning is easy. I allow the right to different opinions, however, in a situation where the virus has been around for a year and a half to deny its existence, numerous deaths and difficult situations are not justified. My task is to ensure the security of the health system and I will try to do so", said Beroš, referring to the protesters.

"As the Minister of Health, my task is to ensure the safety of all service users but also employees. Everyone has the same conditions, there is no discrimination. We do not force anyone to get vaccinated, but testing is what the profession considers the basic condition for safe work, and we do it for the sake of Croatian citizens and our patients'', he said.

As of Monday, every employee in the health care system and social care institutions in Croatia must have an EU digital covid certificate, as well as visitors and accompanying patients. All healthcare professionals who come to work from today must show a covid certificate, whether they have been vaccinated or have recovered from covid, while others must be tested twice a week.

Beroš reiterated that the measures are temporary and that they will change depending on the development of the epidemiological situation and vaccination. "It's not clear to me why someone doesn't want to be tested, why someone doesn't want to contribute to the safety of the health care system. What are their motives? I really can't understand them at the moment".

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Despite the protest against Vili Beroš, most health workers arrived with their EU digital covid certificates in order to work at the hospital. (Photo: Patrik Macek/PIXSELL)

He said 10 tests revealed 10 asymptomatic positive patients in hospitals yesterday. "They would get into the system and be able to spread the virus, and we don't want that. Therefore, that also indicates that the measure is justified at this point."

He said that before making a decision on the introduction of mandatory covid certificates, legal experts on constitutional law were consulted and they believe that health protection is above all.

The director of KBC Zagreb, Ante Ćorušić, stated that the police were called to the protest against Vili Beroš and that most of this morning's protesters were not hospital employees.

Testing of health professionals who do not have a covid certificate at that hospital started yesterday and everything went well. To date, 690 employees have been tested and two have been positive. Vaccination within the KBC is relatively good, 81.5 percent of doctors and 56 percent of nurses have been vaccinated'', said Ćorušić.

"Most employees follow the procedure. The work process continues normally, the operating program goes on, the polyclinic works, the day hospital. Everything is as before", he said, adding that 12,000 people pass through the hospital every day.

As a reminder, as of Monday, every employee in the health care system and social care institutions in Croatia must have an EU digital covid certificate, as well as visitors and patient escorts.

All healthcare professionals who come to work from today must show a covid certificate, whether they have been vaccinated or have recovered from covid, while others must be tested twice a week.

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Thursday, 30 September 2021

7 in 10 Employees in Croatian Healthcare System Vaccinated Against COVID

ZAGREB, 30 Sept 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Thursday that on 28 September, the share of the staff in the healthcare system vaccinated against coronavirus was 70%, and this percentage was even higher among doctors alone, 86%.

"Inoculation is a guarantee for the downward trend in the epidemiological curve and for going back to a normal life," he informed the government.

In the last 24 hours, Croatia has registered 1,710 new cases of the infection with coronavirus, and that the share of positive tests had been 17.68%, Beroš added.

Hospitals are currently treating 745 COVID-19 patients and of them, 99 are placed on ventilators.

The minister warned that a share of persons on ventilators among the COVID hospitalizations had reached a record high level of 14%.

He said the hospital system was ready to provide effective protection to all persons who need hospital treatment.

Broken down by regions, the number of hospitalizations is oscillating, however, the biggest burden is still o the KBC Split hospital, according to the minister.

In the last week, community nurses visited over 5,000 unvaccinated senior citizens, and after the contact with their district nurses, 1,197 decided to get vaccinated, however, 76% refused immunization without any valid health reason, said Beroš.

Until 29 September, Croatia administered over 3.42 million doses of coronavirus vaccine, and 53.59% of the adult population have received at least a shot, while 50,24% have been fully vaccinated.

Interior Minister Davor Božinović said that the validity of COVID certificates concerning the recovery or vaccination of a certificate holder when crossing the border had been extended from 270 days to 365 days.

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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