19:27 / 20.09.2021.

Author: Katja Miličić

Public health officials predict daily cases could hit 2,000 this week

Croatia is experiencing a surge in COVID cases

Croatia is experiencing a surge in COVID cases

Foto: Zeljko Lukunic / Pixsell

Croatia reported 264 new coronavirus infections on Monday but the low numbers are due to slow testing over the weekend and do not paint the real picture. 

The more alarming number is 14 people have died of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. Hospitals are treating 695 patients, 85 of whom are on ventilators.

Given that only slightly more than 50% of all adults in Croatia are vaccinated, health experts expect new cases to continue rising. Epidemiologist Iva Pem Novosel of the Croatian Public Health Bureau said daily cases could start to reach into the thousands very soon.

"This past week we've gotten dangerously close to 2,000 new infections and I'm afraid we're going to pass that number this week,” Pem Novosel said.

Croatia's national COVID task force is not planning to tighten restrictions despite the rising numbers but it will also not roll back any measures either. Indoor nightclub spaces will remain closed for now.

"Right now we do not foresee scaling up restrictions or liberalizing the rules. As far as indoor spaces go, especially ones that have no possibility of natural ventilation, everyone with experience managing the pandemic over the past 18 months will tell you indoor spaces are the biggest problem," said Interior Minister Davor Božinović, the head of the national task force.

Only 44% of Croatia's total population is vaccinated, despite wide-spread availability of the vaccine and pleas from government and public health officials to the public to get the shots. Primorje-Gorski Kotar County has the largest percentage of vaccinated adults in the country, 57%.

"We're very happy to see a 20% weekly increase in vaccinations since the end of August," said Vladimir Mičović, the head of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County Public Health Bureau.

Health officials also say many hospitalized patients have expressed regret over not taking the vaccine.

"It often happens that an unvaccinated person who has had COVID regrets not having been vaccinated. Sadly, these individuals are getting no media attention," said Marija Bubaš, the deputy-head of the Croatian Public Health Bureau.

Some religious leaders are also urging their flock not to gamble with their lives. Monsignor Antun Sente, the rector of the St. Joseph National Shrine in Karlovac, has recovered from COVID-19.

"Often the argument we hear is if I believe in Jesus, nothing can happen to me, if I believe, God will protect me, and so on. Sometimes, I feel sorry for these people because among all of God's gifts is reason,” Msgr. Sente said.

More than 8,500 Croatians have died from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

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