19:09 / 05.01.2022.

Author: Katja Miličić

Croatia hits new record in daily Covid cases

Oxygen tank delivery in front of Split hospital

Oxygen tank delivery in front of Split hospital

Foto: Ivo Cagalj / PIXSELL

Croatia is seeing an explosion in Covid-19 cases following the Christmas and New Year's holidays. 

The country hit a new record in daily cases on Wednesday, 8, 587 infections. The test positivity rate was 46%. That's a 50% increase from a week ago and twice as many cases as two weeks ago. Another 32 people have died of Covid-19.

The sharp increase is being attributed, at least in part, to the super-fast-spreading Omicron variant. Split-Dalmatia County, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, is one of the main hotspots right now.

"Every fifth case in the country is either in Split-Dalmatia County or in Zagreb. I want to underscore that the fundamental method of protection is vaccination. I want to call on all of our fellow citizens who are not vaccinated to do so and I want those with two doses to get boosted,” said Prime Minister Andrej Plenković at Wednesday's cabinet session.

With a record number of cases in the county, Split Clinical Hospital is struggling to treat nearly 200 Covid patients, 40 of whom are on ventilators. Dr. Julije Meštrović, the hospital's chief administrator, said his staff is overwhelmed.

"We are putting in an enormous effort to maintain services and the quality of work that is expected of us. We are understaffed, especially with nurses. We are going to send all of our resources to the Covid wing. I will go myself, if needed. However, that may still not be enough,” he said.

Primorje-Gorski Kotar County has also broken a record in new cases, 1,082. Dr. Dijana Maržić, the deputy chief administrator of Rijeka Clinical Hospital, says the explosion in cases is likely to reflect on hospitalizations.

"These indicators are telling us how to organize the system. We are not seeing a large increase in hospitalizations yet, but we expect one and we are getting ready,” Dr. Maržić said.

Health Minister Vili Beroš warned that the health care system was equipped to handle a rapid spike in hospitalizations but services for non-Covid patients could be significantly affected.

"This means cutting other, regular, non-Covid health care services as has been the case lately in many countries in Europe and around the world,” said Beroš.

The Prime Minister said the national Covid task force has been directed to consider what additional measures could be taken to stop the spread of the virus. The head of the task force, Interior Minister Davor Božinović, confirmed the task force was addressing the issue but did not say what kind of measures were under consideration.

Around 66% of Croatia's adult population has been vaccinated with two doses of the Covid vaccine but only 16% have received the booster. Health Minister Vili Beroš warns this is nowhere enough to counter the threat of the Omicron variant.

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