ZAGREB, 11 January (Hina) – Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Monday Croatia was recording good COVID-19 trends with fewer infections and hospitalisations.
Over the past 24 hours, Croatia has registered 230 new cases of the coronavirus infection, there have been 35 deaths, and the number of active cases is 4,976. There are 2,140 patients in hospitals, 191 of whom are on ventilators.
“The number of new infections and hospitalisations is smaller. The pressure on the healthcare system is gradually easing. The lower numbers point to the responsibility of Croatian citizens as well as to the full logic of our measures,” Beroš said at a press conference of the national COVID-19 crisis response team.
However, “we must not relax” given the third wave of the pandemic in neighbouring countries, he added. “A research by American scientists says that over 50% of those infected are infected by those who are asymptomatic… This only highlights the need to wear masks and keep a distance.”
AstraZeneca vaccine to be approved next week
Beroš said he was informed by Croatia’s Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices that the European Medicines Agency could approve the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine next week. “The final consent could be obtained most probably on 29 January. That will provide us with additional vaccine quantities. Vaccination is the new instrument in the fight against this threat.”
The head of the Zagreb Dr Fran Mihaljević Infectious Diseases Hospital, Alemka Markotić, said it was encouraging that the pressure on healthcare and the number of patients in her hospitals was lower.
There are fewer patients in COVID centres as well as those on ventilators, she said, appealing to citizens to continue to comply with the COVID measures.
Pfizer vaccine effective also against mutated strain
Markotić said it was good news that Texas University had shown that the Pfizer vaccine was effective against the coronavirus mutants and new strains which were spreading rapidly in Europe.
She said it was positive news from Moderna that antibodies remained high even after four months from vaccination, adding that AstraZeneca said its vaccine could maintain immunity for up to one year and longer.
“It’s important to be patient a few more months so that as many people as possible are vaccinated and so that we can go back to more normal living,” said Markotić
Krunoslav Capak, head of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, said 3,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine would arrive in Croatia tomorrow and another 52,000 later this month and in February. Of the first batch, 2,000 doses will go to the earthquake-hit Sisak-Moslavina County and 1,600 to emergency workers.
If AstraZeneca is registered, 50% of population can be vaccinated by summer
If the AstraZeneca vaccine is registered and we get the quantities agreed, we will vaccinate 50% of the population by summer, said Capak.
To date 29,746 people have been vaccinated, including 3,100 in Sisak-Moslavina County (including 700 emergency workers and 1,600 care home residents), almost 13,000 medical workers and almost 15,000 care home residents.
Speaking of incidence, Capak said it was currently 366.4 per 100,000 population and that the 14-day incidence of positive tests was 20.7%.
Croatia ranks 14th in the EU according to the 14-day incidence and 20th according to mortality per million (both from lowest to highest).
Capak said the obligation to have a 48-hour negative test to enter Croatia remained in place, or self-isolation until testing negative.
Border crossing procedures won’t be relaxed
Interior Minister Davor Božinović said a relaxation of border crossing procedures after 15 January was not being considered.
Relaxation will depend on the epidemiological situation in Europe, which is not good due to new virus strains, he added.
Possible restrictions for those who are not vaccinated are not being discussed and will depend on how the issue is regulated at EU level.
Since 25 February, when Croatia registered its first case, a total of 220,223 people have contracted the novel coronavirus, 4,403 of them have died, while 210,844 have recovered, 718 of whom in the last 24 hours.
To date 1,080,918 people have been tested, including 3,141 in the last 24 hours.