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Chief Croatian epidemiologist: New data gives hope in stagnation of new cases

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Krunoslav Capak (Photo: HINA/ PIXSELL/ POOL/ Goran Stanzl)

ZAGREB, Nov 9 (Hina) – Croatia’s chief epidemiologist Krunoslav Capak said on Monday the latest data on the rise of coronavirus cases in the country gave one hope that the incidence was stagnating.

In three weeks up to November 2, we had a 90% to 100% change in the weekly numbers of new cases, he told a press conference of the national COVID-19 response team. “In one week, our numbers increased 100%, whereas now we have a 4.2% increase. This gives us hope that the increase is stagnating and that the situation will improve.”

Croatia 13th in Europe in terms of mortality

“We have a 14-day incidence of 750.4 per 100,000 inhabitants, which is a high incidence, ranking us 22nd out of 27 European countries. The mortality rate since the start of the epidemic is 184.5 per million inhabitants, which puts us in 13th place in the EU, in the middle of the ranking, which is good,” said Capak.

“We hope the numbers will stop rising and that the curve will even out. The fact that the number is stagnating shouldn’t encourage us not to adhere to the measures, because strictly adhering to the prescribed epidemiological measures is key for achieving stagnation,” the head of the Croatian Institute of Public Health added.

In the past 24 hours, Croatia registered 1,529 new coronavirus cases and 38 deaths. The number of active cases is 14,952, including 1,451 hospitalised patients, of whom 142 are on ventilators.

Since February 25, when the virus was first registered in Croatia, 68,776 persons have caught it, including 832 who have died, and 53,002 have recovered, including 2,227 in the past 24 hours. To date, 564,686 people have been tested for the virus, including 5,670 in the past 24 hours.

Currently, 28,122 persons are self-isolating.

Situation best in Istria County, worst in Varazdin and Medjimurje

Capak said the pandemic situation remained the best in Istria County, despite plenty of cases recently, while being worst in Varazdin and Medjimurje counties.

Croatia has not reached the PCR testing limit and most countries are starting to use high antigen tests, which are not totally accurate but take 10 minutes.

“Those tests are now being used only for symptomatic patients and we are annulling false negatives by sending all those with false negatives for PCR. There is no strategy which could endanger the detection of new cases,” said Capak.

As for the high number of deaths, he said it was due to the higher numbers of new infections.

Speaking of scientist Ivan Djikic’s estimate of 1,500 dead by the end of this month, Capak said he was surprised because he did not know if Djikic meant the total death toll or the monthly number. “I said I thought the number was exaggerated. If the number of infections continues to stagnate, the number of dead will decrease too.”

Speaking of a drug shortage for cancer patients, Health Minister Vili Beros said HRK 1.8 billion would be paid to wholesalers on Wednesday and that it should suffice for ensuring drugs for the gravest patients.

He condemned “the inhumane act of switching off the power in KB Dubrava” hospital, which is being investigated by the police, saying the arrival of new leadership was expected to improve the situation in the Zagreb hospital.

Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said wearing masks was mandatory there where it was not possible to socially distance and that more and more people were behaving responsibly, wearing them both indoors and outdoors.

“You have countries which have imposed a curfew, a lockdown, and you see what is happening. The problem with those strict measures is that, at the moment, no one can say how long they will last. Besides all the epidemiological reasons and demands, we must take into account not only the economy but also the sentiment in society, the nation’s mental state. Where there is no other way, there are sanctions and they will be applied,” he said.

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