Covid-19 cases in Croatia reached a staggering new record on Friday, 1,131 confirmed new infections.
Cases surged at an alarming rate this week, going from from 300-400 a day on Monday and Tuesday to over a thousand on Friday. Three people have died of complications related to Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 345. The number of people being treated in hospitals is up to 505, and of those patients, 24 are on ventilators.
The positivity rate among those tested is around 20%, which is very high. Croatia tested 5,693 people in the past 24 hours and 1,131 of them were positive for Covid-19. Health Minister Vili Beroš said the virus had infiltrated the health care system and was threatening nursing homes.
"The virus is a threat coming at us from all sides. We must act, because if we don't we'll soon cross the Rubicon,” Beroš told reporters.
The head of the Croatian Public Health Bureau Krunoslav Capak said there were currently no clusters to blame for the surge. The cause, he said, was the failure of the public to comply with prevention measures, despite the fact that they were some of the most liberal measures in all of Europe.
"We urge our citizens to accept and comply with the measures we introduced this week and to be responsible and disciplined," he said.
Croatia tightened measures to curb the spread of the virus earlier this week by making face masks obligatory indoors and further limiting the number of guests in cafes, bars, and restaurants.
Local transmission is rampant in the capital, Zagreb, which had the highest number of new cases today, 231 cases. Of the new cases in Zagreb on Friday, 70 individuals have no symptoms at all and it is unclear how they contracted the virus.
"The situation in Zagreb is worrisome. We have local transmission and family dispersion - this means that people who should be self-isolating are not complying with those orders," said Cecilia Rotim, the head nurse at the Teaching Institute for Public Health.
The head of the Zagreb City Health Department Vjekoslav Jeleč did not confirm that all schools would be switching to remote learning by November 1. He said there was still two weeks to go until then and that health officials were keeping a close eye on the situation.
Osijek Baranja County is right behind Zagreb with the second-highest number of new cases, 123. Health authorities in Vukovar-Srijem County are concerned because the virus has spread throughout the county and is proving difficult to trace. Istria County is the only exception, for now. They appear to have the situation very much under control with only 2 new cases today. They are rolling back restrictions on hospitality businesses as other parts of the country scale them up. Most other counties had numbers ranging from 30 to 70 new cases.
In the region, Slovenia had a record-breaking 830 new cases on Friday, also a staggering number for a country with a population of just over 2 million. Bosnia and Herzegovina saw a record number of new infections, 620. Serbia confirmed 265 new cases.