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Isolating novel coronavirus is a big deal, says head of Zagreb’s infectious diseases hospital

Alemka Markotic (Photo: HINA/ Dario GRZELJ/ dag)

ZAGREB, April 19 (Hina) – The director of Zagreb’s Fran Mihaljevic Infectious Diseases Hospital, Alemka Markotic, said on Sunday the novel coronavirus was isolated in this hospital three weeks ago, which was followed by additional testing.

“It’s a big deal for the scientific research we do, but it can also help in diagnostics and the development of new tests or an attempt to detect a difference between viruses. And as soon as you have viruses… Since yesterday, we’ve had a score of research and study offers,” Markotic said at the daily press briefing of the national civil protection authority.

The virus was isolated by Doctor of Science Zeljka Macak Safranko with the help of Ivan Kristijan Kurolt and a hospital team.

A number of developed countries have managed to isolate the virus, China and Australia being the first.

Markotic said a complete analysis of the virus genome must now be done. Asked if there was evidence that the novel coronavirus was created in a lab, she said all relevant literature indicated that there was no evidence of that.

“There have been pandemics which killed up to 50% of the population, such as the plague and cholera, and they were created by nature. Nature, unfortunately, is the biggest bioterrorist,” said Markotic.

Four more restrictions extended until May 4

Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said restrictions regarding funerals, marriage and life partnership ceremonies, and the closure of playgrounds and sports grounds were extended until May 4.

A decision banning international ships which are in self-isolation from entering Croatian ports is extended until May 18.

The director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, said the situation in care homes was relatively calm.

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