Sunday, 20 March 2022

Minister: Tooth Decay Incidence Among 12-year-olds on Decline

ZAGREB, 20 March 2022 - On the occasion of World Oral Health Day (WOHD), observed on 20 March, Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Sunday that the prevalence of tooth decal among children aged 12 was declining.

|The latest data show that Croatia's Decayed, Missing, and Filled Teeth (DMFT) index has fallen from 4.3 to 2.6, which means that dental caries incidence is on a decline", Beroš said.

Decayed, Missing, and Filled Teeth (DMFT) index has been used since the 1930s, and is today the predominant population-based measure of caries experience worldwide. It is one of the most common methods in oral epidemiology for assessing dental caries prevalence, as well as dental treatment needs among populations.

The improvement is a result of the "Dental Passport" project, which is being conducted by the health ministry, the Croatian Institute of Public Health, the Croatian Health Insurance Agency, the Croatian Dental Chamber and the Croatian Medical Chamber.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

COVID Restrictions Likely to be Relaxed Next Week, Božinović Says

ZAGREB, 9 March 2022 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Wednesday that early next week the national COVID-19 crisis management team would probably relax restrictions on gatherings and some economic activities.

Despite today's minimal increase in new coronavirus cases, there have been significant decreases in new cases, hospitalisations and deaths in the past few weeks, which allows for returning to a regular work dynamic, he said at a cabinet session.

The population's immunity, thanks to recovery from COVID and vaccination, also allows for considering a relaxation of the protocols, he added.

Although the most important restrictions, on gatherings, crossing the border, shops' business hours, public transport, and wearing masks, are in force until the end of this month, those on gatherings and economic activities will probably be relaxed early next week, Božinović said.

According to him, there is no information that the Ukraine refugee wave has considerably affected the epidemiological situation.

Refugees are tested in reception centres and if they are positive, adequate accommodation is provided, he said.

70.6% of adults vaccinated

Health Minister Vili Beroš said that today 2,588 new COVID-19 cases were detected by PCR testing and 662 by rapid antigen testing, which is up 0.21% on the week.

Hospitals are gradually reducing their COVID capacity, which allows for providing more comprehensive care to oncology, mental and post-COVID syndrome patients, he said.

Based on the results of 2021 population census, 70.6% of the adult population has been vaccinated, he said, adding that as of today inoculation begins with Novavax, a new protein vaccine.

Beroš went on to say that since 25 February 249 medical services and 14 emergency medical services had been provided to Ukrainian refugees, that three had been hospitalised, and that five had tested positive for coronavirus.

Ukrainian refugees can get vaccinated against COVID as well as measles, mumps, rubella and polio, he said, adding that there is a big measles and rubella epidemic in Ukraine due to poor vaccination.

For more news about Croatia and the COVID situation, click here.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Health Minister Defends COVID Certificates, Testing Children

ZAGREB, 3 Feb 2022 - Health Minister Vili Beroš defended in parliament on Thursday the COVID certificate mandate and children testing as part of the fight against the pandemic and underlined the importance of vaccination because the tourist season could depend on it.

"One of the criteria the European Commission might consider for travel recommendations is the vaccination rate of the domestic population. If it is so, we'll have a problem and won't do well," Beroš told Emil Daus of the Istrian Democratic Party, who asked about plans for the summer tourist season.

Last year we were the champions of safety in the Mediterranean, but this summer the tourism situation might be bad and vaccination is the way out, Beroš said, adding that vaccines protect against serious illness and death also with the new variants.

Submitting a report on coronavirus protocols, he dismissed some MPs' claims that COVID certificates were pointless given that the vaccinated are contagious, too.

"COVID certificates don't represent absolute but optimal safety given what is being invested," Beroš said, adding that the vaccinated are far less contagious than the unvaccinated.

He said no EU member state had abolished the certificates and was not jumping to conclusions.

"Great Britain has abolished them, but it's not in the EU. Denmark is considering it but hasn't abolished them. Some countries with high vaccination rates are considering changing the application of COVID certificates, but are not abolishing them," the minister said, adding that the certificates are an instrument of the European Commission and that they enable travel.

As for the testing of children, Beroš said it was being introduced not only for health safety but to allow children to go to school. Testing is harmless and is being conducted in 16 European countries, he added.

Defending the justification of testing, the minister said that since it was introduced in the public sector, 1.6 million tests had been done and that 116,000 came back positive.

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, 3 February 2022

Minister: War Against Coronavirus Can Be Won Only with Unity, Scientific Approach

ZAGREB, 3 Feb 2022 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said in the parliament on Thursday the battle against coronavirus could be won only with unity and a science-based approach, vaccination, and compliance with epidemiological rules.

Submitting a report on the effects of epidemiological measures taken to fight coronavirus between 1 September and the end of December 2021, the minister defended the introduction of the EU digital certificate, which he said had proven to be "a universal tool in the fight against the epidemic in all EU members", noting that ample research confirmed its efficacy.

As for figures related to the pandemic, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Croatian Health Insurance Institute has paid close to five billion kuna from mandatory health insurance, and around HRK 122 million for special bonuses to health workers.

In the period from 1 September to the end of December 2021, 1.4 million vaccine doses were administered, putting the total number of vaccine doses used at 4.7 million. By the end of December 2021, 55.58% of the total population was vaccinated, or 66.33% of the adult population, with the vaccination rate being the highest in Zagreb.

Number of fatalities due to low vaccination rate, population age, risk factors

Responding to opposition criticism regarding the high COVID-19 mortality rate, Beroš said that Croatia had a low vaccination rate, an old population and that there were many risk factors, such as obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption.

Also, high mortality was reported also before the epidemic, and as regards lethality - the number of deaths in relation to the number of infections, is lower than in many other countries in the world and around the lethality rate in Europe, he said.

Beroš also noted that hospitals did not deal exclusively with COVID patients and that the latest information showed that hospitals provided for cancer patients without any problems and that no problems had been identified in the implementation of preventive cancer programmes either.

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, 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.

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