Saturday, 2 January 2021

Health Minister for Reorganising, Adapting to New Circumstances After Quake

ZAGREB, 2 January, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beros said on Saturday the ministry's task was to reorganise healthcare in the wider area hit by Tuesday's devastating earthquake, adding that it was necessary to adjust to the new circumstances and transfer patients to hospitals in Zagreb to "receive the adequate assistance."

Speaking to the press while visiting the Sisak General Hospital, which sustained extensive damage, Beros thanked its staff for receiving 32 patients and conducting over 90 checkups since the tremor.

Petrinja hospital temporarily unusable

The minister said "unfortunately... the building of the hospital in Petrinja is temporarily unusable and can't be made functional quickly in any way."

He said enough rapid antigen tests for coronavirus had arrived in the quake-struck area. "Over 1,500 vaccine doses have been ensured. Given that new doses are arriving on a weekly basis, it's certain that we will adapt to the new conditions and that as many doses as necessary will be reallocated for this county."

Beros said he did not expect everyone there to be vaccinated but that he would appeal that as many people as possible did to prevent the epidemic from spreading. He added that it took three to four weeks to acquire immunity, underlining the importance of vaccinating people as soon as possible.

Emergency medical aid containers set up

The minister said containers for emergency medical aid were set up in Petrinja because the local hospital was demolished.

"We are adapting to the circumstances. The ministry has instructed all health centres and family doctors to adapt to the new circumstances," he said, adding that medicines would be delivered to people with chronic diseases who lost their homes.

The director of the Petrinja hospital, Tomislav Dujmenovic, asked the contractors building a new hospital building to resume their work as soon as possible, saying the new building would solve all their problems.

Thursday, 31 December 2020

Beroš: Record Blood Donations Yesterday, Over 1000 Vaccine Doses for Petrinja

December 31, 2020 – Health Minister Vili Beroš commented on the record blood donations collected in Petrova Hospital in Zagreb yesterday and coronavirus vaccine doses sent to the quake-affected area.

As N1 reports, in front of the Dubrava Hospital, where some COVID positive patients arrived from the earthquake-affected area, Health Minister Vili Beroš commented on patients' situation after the earthquake.

Record blood doses after 1995

"This morning, I received information from the Croatian Institute for Transfusion Medicine that yesterday, a record number of blood doses was collected in Zagreb's Petrova Hospital, over 750 doses. The last time we had a similar turnout was August 5, 1995, the beginning of the Storm war operation. This shows the consciousness of the Croatian people," said Beroš.

"From a health point of view, this is a challenge. We want to provide health care to everyone. Given that most health facilities have been severely damaged, I believe we will respond adequately. As much as 90 percent of the Sisak hospital is out of order, so we have to adjust the health system and provide health care to the entire surrounding area," said Beroš.

He pointed out that many health centers are out of order. He also revealed that the Health Ministry sends about a thousand doses of vaccine to the affected area.

'Virus is still here'

"On Saturday, a team of epidemiologists from the Croatian Institute for Public Health will vaccinate all people who are in collective accommodation, emergency workers, and emergency services who are in the area and who will be there for three weeks, including all members of civil protection. Plans exist to adapt to the situation. Epidemiologists will estimate the situation and see how many vaccines are still needed. We are sending more than 1000 doses," said Beroš.

The Minister pointed out that there are enough reserves of protective equipment. He also said that the problem of drug delivery would be solved. Rapid antigen tests are being conducted among nursing home users in the area to find out if there are infections in collective accommodation.

"After the earthquake, Minister Aladrović contacted me. They enabled the accommodation for nursing home users from Petrinja in the Popovača Hospital and other places. There are positive cases among the users, so we are looking for accommodation for them with the county authorities. We still have to stick to measures, masks, distances, disinfection. The virus is still there. These circumstances favor its spread," said Beroš.

The Minister stressed that all health professionals with COVID patients must receive the promised money for the reward.

For more on the Petrinja earthquake, please follow our dedicated section.

Monday, 21 December 2020

Beros: COVID Crisis Has Cost Health System HRK 927.4 mn

ZAGREB, Dec 21, 2020 - Health Minister Vili Beros said on Monday that the COVID crisis had so far cost the health system HRK 927.4 million.

Data show that by December 18, HRK 574.4 million was spent on testing, HRK 268.9 million on treatment and more than HRK 83 million on sick leaves, Beros said at the national COVID-19 crisis management team's press conference.

He also said that a meeting was being held at the Health Ministry with drug wholesalers regarding the health system's debt to them.

Beros said that the number of new COVID-19 infections had started dropping.

The average number of services provided in all health institutions in Croatia is at 67.21% compared to the second week of December 2019.

"These are encouraging data as they show that despite the burden of COVID-19 positive patients we are finding ways, strength and opportunities to respond to other needs, especially in oncology," Beros said.

Despite the fact that the health system has completely adapted to COVID patients, the number of services provided in Zagreb's hospitals is at 74% compared to the second week of December last  year, and only the KB Dubrava hospital, which is completely focused on treating coronavirus patients, has provided 11% of other services.

Other patients using KB Dubrava's services, 3,993 of them, have been sent to other health institutions via the call centre, Beros said.

He added that there were also institutions like the Magdalena Clinic which is at 119% of provided services due to taking over some of KB Dubrava's cardiac surgery patients.

Beros said there would be no changes regarding the realisation of the right of health workers to a full salary after getting infected with COVID.

He said that all those who had got infected at work would receive 100% of their salary, but they have to ask their employer for confirmation.

(€1= HRK 7.5)

Friday, 18 December 2020

Beros: Acquiring Immunity Doesn't Mean That One is Not Infectious to Others

ZAGREB, Dec 18, 2020 - Health Minister Vili Beros on Friday warned that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and people without symptoms can still infect others with coronavirus, underscoring that only vaccination can result in collective immunity. 

"It is important to know that people who have recovered from COVID can still infect other," Beros told a press conference by the national COVID response team when asked how people should act after recovery.

He explained that people who have recovered from COVID obtain immunity which means that they will probably not be ill in the coming period however that does not mean that they won't infect someone else.

"We have to think of others. Wearing masks is of essential importance as is vaccination. In order to obtain herd immunity we have to consider vaccination and protect not just oursevles but others too. Only by our concerted action, can we prevent the spread of this virus and epidemic," he explained.

He underscored the importance of tightening epidemiological measures ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays because of asymptomatic people.

"A certain portion of people who are infected are asymptomatic. They do not know that and they will visit their families, socialise with elderly members and transfer the virus," Beros said, explaining the reason to ban movement during the holidays.

Monday, 14 December 2020

Minister Says Hospital Increasing Capacity to Admit COVID-19 Patients

ZAGREB, Dec 14, 2020 - Health Minister Vili Beros said on Monday that his ministry had sent the KBC Zagreb hospital, the KB Dubrava hospital and the Hospital for Lung Diseases, also in Zagreb, an instruction to urgently take steps to increase their accommodation capacity for COVID-19 patients.

Beros said the instruction was sent in light of the current epidemiological situation and that the three hospitals would also secure additional staff and equipment.

He added that activities related to the reassignment of medical workers and equipment were ongoing, underlining the deployment of additional doctors and nurses to the hospitals in Varazdin and Cakovec.

"At the meeting with epidemiologists on December 11 we analysed the strategy for fast antigen testing in order to put hotpots under control. Today's meeting of the expert group of the COVID-19 response team discussed the need to increase the accommodation capacity of medical institutions and other current problems so as to determine steps to be taken in the coming weeks," Beros said.

He added that the distribution of 100,000 rapid antigen tests from commodity reserves to county institutes of public health had begun and that so far a total of 250,000 had been distributed.

Beros stressed that the number of COVID-19 patients who were being admitted to hospitals had grown mildly compared to last week, as had the number of new patients on ventilators.

"Even though it is resilient and sustainable in terms of organisation, the health system must be protected from maximum strain. Our main goal is to maintain, as long as possible, the centralised treatment of COVID-19 patients, that way we are reducing the possibility of the virus entering more hospitals, which will  make it possible to continue providing regular medical care," said the minister.

He reported that the number of coronavirus infections worldwide had exceeded 72,655,000 and that the number of related fatalities was above 1,619,999.

In Croatia, there are 1,430 active cases among medical workers while 807 are in self-isolation.

Sunday, 13 December 2020

Total Lockdown in Croatia Last Possible Option, Says Health Minister Beros

December 13, 2020 - Minister of Health Vili Beros spoke on HRT about a total lockdown in Croatia, the new measures, the current epidemiological situation, and the beginning of vaccination.

Asked if he felt responsible because, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Croatia is the worst in terms of the number of active COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, he said:

"Of course, I feel responsible. However, this is a multidimensional, complex crisis, and there are no unambiguous solutions and answers. The only thing that is possible in the given circumstances is to monitor the epidemiological situation from day to day, to monitor all those elements that clearly describe it - the number of newly infected, their distribution, appearance, and based on these elements to prescribe measures," Beros said. 

He also added that two weeks is not a big enough period of time to indicate a trend. He also reminded that it took France six weeks after the national lockdown to stabilize the situation. But even after that, they have upward trends again. He believes that four to five weeks should pass after the measures are introduced, assuming that people adhere to them.

He claims that a full lockdown in Croatia is the final option and believes it will not happen.

"We have seen in the example of the neighboring countries what a hard lockdown brings. It is not a good thing. So we need to find a coexistence model in the circumstances of the new normal; we must enable certain economic activities while reducing everything we can reduce. And that is exactly what we are working on; we are trying to balance the measures. It would be easiest to introduce the toughest lockdown and close everything. But that is not realistic, especially since we do not know how long this situation will last," Beros said.

The health minister said that at the moment, it is not very certain that a ban on inter-county travel will be introduced around December 21, although they are discussing it as well. However, this will be introduced if the epidemiological situation is such that it requires a similar way of organizing work. 

"Personally, I don't think that will happen. But, if the epidemiological situation is not adequate, we will consider similar measures. Of course, taking into account the working circumstances, i.e., exceptions that would enable work processes," he said.

Emphasizing the importance of antigen tests, Beros said that Croatia procures significant quantities of these tests and will increase their number in hotspots where there are many newly infected.

Stating that the Croatian Institute of Public Health will conduct a national campaign to promote vaccination, Beros warned that - for vaccination to be effective - a large part of the population must be vaccinated. He pointed out that if, for example, less than 70 percent of the population is vaccinated, this will not guarantee significant prevention of the spread of the infection.

Beros also said that introducing a "COVID card" is not being considered at the moment. Still, if the virus continues to cause such severe clinical pictures after spring or summer - that is not ruled out either.

To read more about coronavirus in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 30 November 2020

Minister Beros Recovers from Coronavirus Infection, Returns to Work

ZAGREB, November 30, 2020 - Health Minister Vili Beros wrote on Monday on Facebook that he had recovered from the coronavirus infection and that he was working in his office again, calling on citizens to comply with anti-coronavirus restrictions.

In the first week of the new anti-COVID measures, the minister said that no sacrifice was too great to protect health and lives.

"We are denying ourselves a lot, but I believe this will result in fewer infections and deaths," Beros wrote, expressing gratitude to health workers for their self-sacrificing work.

Beros said on November 19 that he was positive, and two days later he said that he had probably got infected at the ministry despite the fact that he had been trying to protect himself.

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Health Minister Says Number of Infections, Deaths Alarming

ZAGREB, November 22, 2020 - Health Minister Vili Beros, who is isolating at home because he has coronavirus, said on Saturday the situation with the number of infections and related deaths was alarming and announced that he would talk with county heads on Tuesday.

Speaking for RTL television via video link, he again called for people to be more responsible.

"Tuesday is an important day, when all of us at national level will once again talk with prefects, which will be an opportunity for the national, local and regional governments to hold constructive talks and assess all problems."

Asked if that meant they would discuss new restrictions, Beros said every opportunity was good for talks.

He said many were criticising the national COVID response team's measures, but added that many in the world claimed that milder restrictions would be effective if people complied with them.

"We can impose stricter measures, but if people won't wear masks and (if they) socialise at private gatherings... Everything is an opportunity to show responsibility."

Asked if it was realistic for a vaccine to be in Croatia by Christmas, Beros said, "We joined early enough all European initiatives for procuring vaccines from various manufacturers. As a state, we have done everything. Now it's all up to the manufacturers."

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Health Minister Rules Out Lockdown and Curfew

ZAGREB, November 14, 2020 - Health Minister Vili Beros said on Saturday that he would support the imposition of tighter restrictions if the current situation regarding the spread of coronavirus did not improve, however, there would be neither lockdown nor curfew.

Beros visited the city of Varazdin and the local hospital that is currently caring for 156 patients diagnosed with the coronavirus infection.

The minister held meetings with local authorities and admitted that the epidemiological situation in the north of the country was not good.

All that heightens the pressure on the healthcare system, and cooperation between the counties as well as at the level of the whole country is necessary, he added.

Considering new measures to suppress the virus, Bros said that he supported the activities aimed at tighter restrictions if the situation did not improve.

 "Another lockdown or curfew are out of question," he said adding that gatherings could be further restricted and working hours of some hospitality services could be changed.

Varazdin County Prefect Radimir Cacic said that currently this part of Croatia had the highest coronavirus numbers in Europe and that on average, about ten COVID patients were admitted to the Varazdin hospital on a daily basis.

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Vili Beros: Many Countries Introducing Lockdown, We're Seeking Balance

October the 29th, 2020 - The coronavirus pandemic has taken firm hold once again across Europe, with numbers soaring and the number of patients infected with the new virus requiring hospitalisation on the rise. As many countries across Europe re-introduce stricter lockdown measures, Croatia's minister of health, Vili Beros, has stated that he's more interested in finding a balance.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 28th of October, 2020, when commenting on the rising number of new cases of infection across Croatia, Health Minister Vili Beros said that the collapse of the already enfeebled Croatian health system was indeed a possibility, but that he was also working to enable maximum good functioning.

"It's excellent that a large number of retired doctors and students are stepping forward, so I'd like to appeal to everyone to join in with these joint efforts to suppress this epidemic," Vili Beros said.

He says he will continue to try to find the right balance between maintaining public health and not damaging economic activities. In some countries that have introduced curfews, there has been no reduction in the number of new infections, he noted, indicating that this appears a wasted effort in many cases.

"I respect, and I listen to everything, I understand the epidemiologists who say that they need stronger measures, but we should also look at businessmen for whom these measures are too much… We need to find a balance," said Vili Beros, clearly highlighting his awareness of how the economy is suffering, which is something he and others have previously been accused of not caring enough about.

He stated that Croatian epidemiologists are "a step ahead" of the coronavirus, so the Zagreb Arena is also ready to receive patients should that be necessary, as it was back in March when the new coronavirus first penetrated the country's line of defense, although it will be a long time before patients are admitted there.

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