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Croatia’s health minister says all care home residents, staff to be tested

ZAGREB, April 18 (Hina) – Croatia plans to test all care home residents and staff for COVID-19, the idea is to test those most vulnerable, for which certain rapid serological tests are ready, Health Minister Vili Beros said on Friday.

Commenting on Austria’s announcement that it would test all residents of care homes, he told Nova TV that Croatia too was going in that direction.

“Rapid serological tests have already arrived in Croatia. Unlike the rapid ones which can detect antigens, i.e. the virus in the nose, which are even prompter and give results at that moment, these serological tests are positive only three to five, six days after exposure to the virus.”

The tests show the presence of virus antibodies, which proves that a person was or is still infected. Rapid tests which detect the virus itself are still expected in Croatia.

The serological tests were validated on Thursday at Zagreb’s Fran Mihaljevic Communicable Diseases Hospital and proved to be good.

“Our idea is to test the most vulnerable groups, i.e. the residents and staff of nursing homes,” said Beros.

The risk of infection in care homes is greater than in families, but if some family members attend school or go to work, exposure to potential infection is greater, he added. “The instructions of the Croatian Institute of Public Health are very clear and exact and if nursing homes comply with them, they can have good results.”

Asked if the restrictions imposed because of the novel coronavirus could be eased as of next weekend if the number of new infections fell for several days in a row, Beros said he would like that to come true. “If this trend continues, we’ll certainly think about easing the measures, notably in counties where the situation is satisfactory.”

He would not say which restrictions could be lifted first. “When the time comes, we’ll make everything public. It’s essential that we try to maintain this epidemiological situation and then we’ll ease the measures in a very reasonable and cautious way,” he said, adding that this would be done primarily to help the economy.

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