Croatia recorded on Friday the biggest number of new coronavirus cases in a single day since the pandemic began, 116. This is the first time new cases have gone into the triple digits.
The largest numbers of new cases are in Zagreb, Đakovo, Zadar and Split. Two people have died from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours.
The country's coronavirus response team is drafting new rules on self-isolation and testing at the border, as well as mandatory masks for workers in certain industries, such as hospitality and tourism.
Health Minister Vili Beroš said epidemiologists have determined that large social gatherings appear to be the most common epicenters for the spread of the virus.
"Localized circumstances are the reason for the current epidemiological situation. We had a number of gatherings in the past few days that account for the majority of cases in this surge. A few gatherings resulted in 40 new cases. If these gatherings never happened, we would not have these numbers," Beroš said.
Croatia held a parliamentary election last Sunday, restrictions requiring self-quarantine on people coming in from non-EU countries were lifted the week before the election, and the government has repeatedly warned that gatherings such as weddings were generating a high number of cases. All of which may have contributed to the surge, but Beroš did not eleborate whether the election or weddings fell into the category of "gatherings".
New guidance form the national task force will require that all gatherings of more than 100 people must be reported 48 ahead of time. Organizers will also have to make a list of all participants, while civil defense inspectors will be monitoring compliance with prevention measures.
The number of cases being imported from abroad has declined, but given the Covid-19 numbers in some neighboring countries, public health authorities are seeking to step up restrictions at the border. Croatia plans to reinstate mandatory self-isolation for travelers coming to the country from non-EU member states. Beroš also said new rules would require masks for all workers in cafes, restaurants, and retail stores.
Zagreb had the largest number of cases on Friday, 35. Sandra Šikić from the Teaching Institute for Public Health, said 22 of the new cases were contacts of people who had tested positive earlier and were in self-isolation when they developed symptoms. Hoever, she said that for 13 of the cases the source of the infection could not be identified.
Osijek-Baranja County reported 20 new cases today, most of them, 12 in Đakovo, which is still dealing with an outbreak that began at the local convent. The head of the county coronavirus response team, Goran Ivanović, says weddings are likely a major source of infection. Đakovo has placed a temporary ban on large social gatherings but the county is planning to issue broader county-wide guidance with respect to such events.
Split-Dalmatia County had 17 new cases on Friday, 11 of them in Split. Zadar County also reported 14 new cases, 12 of them related to a wedding that had already yielded a large number of cases. Istria County reported 8 new infections, two of them are imported cases from Serbia and Sweden. Local public health officials are recommending that larger public events be canceled and all social gatherings that do go forward must be in line with physical-distancing guidelines.
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