19:35 / 19.11.2021.

Author: Katja Miličić

Božinović pushes back against Covid certificate opponents

Davor Božinović

Davor Božinović

Foto: HTV / HRT

The head of the national coronavirus task force, Interior Minister Davor Božinović, is pushing back against claims that the Covid certificate requirement is meant to force people into getting vaccinated.

Minister Božinović told a press conference on Friday that the Covid certificate requirement, which applies to all public sector employees and everyone entering a public institution, was the option chosen by the National Civil Defense Task Force, which he underscored was paying close attention to what other countries were doing to manage this latest surge in the pandemic. Austria, for example, has announced another nationwide lockdown and has plans for a vaccine mandate, a step no other European country has taken so far. If an individual does not have a certificate because they are unvaccinated and have not had Covid, they do have the option of getting tested.

"Although a large majority has accepted mandatory testing, some people still want to equate it to a vaccine mandate and it is simply incorrect. We strongly urge everyone to get vaccinated but it is not mandated."

The government is discussing potential penalties for those who refuse to get tested, Božinović said. These penalties could be written into public protection legislation.

Although vaccination is the best preventive measure, its efficacy does appear to wane after about six months, which is why the task force is recommending a third dose to boost immunity.

"We strongly urge everyone who was fully vaccinated six months ago or more to get the booster dose," Božinović said.

Public health authorities reported that another 65 people died of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours. Cases, 2,234, were lower that earlier this week because of slow testing on Thursday, a holiday. The number of patients on ventilators has climbed to 327.

Hospital administrators are increasingly worried about whether their facilities can manage more Covid patients requiring intensive care. The head of infectious diseases at Split Clinical Hospital, Dr. Ivo Ivić, says the situation is close to what it was at the peak of the third wave.

"We have too many patients. We're close to the number of patients we had last winter when there was no vaccine available, which is unbelievable. More than half the total population is unvaccinated, and even if it was, people are not following prevention guidelines!" Dr. Ivić said.

The hospital currently has more than 190 patients, of whom 44 are on ventilators.

Meanwhile, opponents of the Covid certificate requirement protested today in front of the Split-Dalmatia County Building.

"We cannot accept that this kind of serious document, which is segregationist, discriminatory, and violates human rights, is implemented without a public debate between the opposing sides,” one protester, a woman named Daniela, told reporters.

County Prefect Blaženko Boban responded by saying he believed in the efficacy of the vaccine in preventing severe disease and death.

"I am grateful for the science that was done all over the globe to make the vaccine because I believe that is the reason I am here today,” said Boban, who contracted Covid last month and suffered only mild symptoms, which he credits to having had both doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine.

In the northern Croatian town of Varaždin, the local hospital is struggling to care for 230 Covid patients. A team of 16 nurses from all over the country is being sent there to help with a staff shortage.

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