16:05 / 02.06.2021.

Author: HRT

New cases continue to drop but Indian variant raises concerns

Ilustracija

Ilustracija

Foto: G. Jelavic/M. Tironi/Z. Hladika / PIXSELL

Although Croatia's Covid-19 situation has been improving steadily, the health crisis is by no means over, as is clear from the news that the Indian variant of the virus has been detected in cases in Split-Dalmatia County.

Croatia reported 432 new infections today. The test positivity rate was 7.8%. Hospitals are treating 709 patients, of whom 81 are on ventilators. Another 8 people have died of Covid.


Croatia began issuing the Covid digital certificate on Tuesday and interest has been extremely high. Around 40 thousand people obtained the digital or paper form of the document, which allows free movement between countries with which Croatia has bilateral agreements. The certificates will go into effect throughout the EU in July. They are available to anyone who has been vaccinated, has a negative test or has had Covid in the past six months.


Around 90% of the certificates issued on day one were obtained on-line through the e-Gradanin government services platform. Getting the digital certificates out as soon as possible was very important for Croatia, said Interior Minister Davor Božinović.


"We wanted to send a message to all of our partners, to all EU citizens, that if they have obtained digital certificates in their home countries, they will be able to get past border control with minimal waiting time,” Božinović said.


The certificates can also be obtained at some but not all offices of the Croatian Health Insurance Bureau, the government health insurance provider. These offices were crowded on Tuesday but the certificates issued there accounted for a fraction of those issued. Government officials believe most people will choose the on-line option.


Split-Dalmatia County has detected several cases of the Indian variant of Covid-19 in the past few days. The fact that the  variant is faster-spreading than any of the earlier versions is not the only reason public health officials are worried.  


"Although this is being studied right now, it appears the vaccines are somewhat less effective in fighting the Indian variant,” said Krunoslav Capak, the head of the Croatian Public Health Bureau.


Some parts of Croatia have reached a plateau in vaccinations. Now, there is plenty of vaccine but the number of people interested in getting their shots is falling. Some counties are sending out direct appeals to the public to encourage vaccination as the number of people registering on on-line platforms declines. Croatia's government has set a goal of vaccinating 50% of its adult population by the end of the month.


"It would be unfortunate if because the numbers are falling, some of our fellow citizens started to think the vaccine is no longer important. It is indeed important!" said Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.


Right now, around 38% of Croatian adults have been vaccinated. 

There is also a new regulation at the border. Travelers entering the country can do so with a negative PCR test that is no older than 72 hours. Under the old rules, the test could be no older than 48 hours.


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