The coronavirus count in Croatia exploded over the past 24 hours to 95 new cases from just 22 Wednesday.
It is the biggest daily total of new cases since April 1, when there were 96 - the all-time high since the pandemic began. The biggest hotspot is in Osijek-Baranja County, where there are 40 new cases, 38 of them related to an outbreak at the convent, seminary and complex of the Arch-Diocese in Đakovo. Fourteen patients from there have been hospitalized in Osijek and 453 people have been ordered to self-isolate. Among those who are in hospital is the the former Archbishop of Đakovo and Osijek, now retired, Marin Srakić. The average age of the individuals in this cluster of cases is 62, which places them at higher risk of complications related to Covid-19. However, Dr. Ljiljana Perić from Osijek Clinical Hospital said all of the patients were stable and none were experiencing more severe symptoms. The convent in Đakovo runs a day-care facility and as a result of the outbreak, 133 children are in self-isolation along with their parents.
County epidemiologists Karlo Kožul said there was no plan right now to place the town under quarantine. Despite the outbreak, the head of the county coronavirus response team, Goran Ivanović, said that first communion and confirmation ceremonies scheduled for this Sunday would be going ahead.
Zagreb is the country's second largest coronavirus hotspot right now, with 28 new cases reported in the past 24 hours.
"In Zagreb we have a total of 79 active cases and 571 people are under mandatory self-isolation measures,” said Sandra Šikić, the deputy head of the Public Health Bureau.
The situation in the capital has taken a considerable turn for the worse since Tuesday. The biggest issue is an outbreak at the Sveti Ivan Psychiatric Hospital, where 16 patients and 5 nurses tested positive for the virus on Wednesday.
"All of the necessary measures have been implemented at that location. This is a free standing building which is now completely isolated,” said Vjekoslav Jeleč, a member of the city coronavirus response team.
The 28 new cases today were either imported from abroad or are people who were in self-isolation and have now become sick, according to Šikić. The Public Health Bureau is recommending stronger prevention measures and stricter adherence to existing ones. This means mandatory masks for all employees at cafes and restaurants but also more rigorous social-distancing requirements, especially between tables, and increased hygiene protocols; Šikić said.
Croatia reintroduced on Wednesday a two week self-quarantine requirement for all persons coming into the country from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Northern Macedonia, but not for travelers in transit. Also, as of today all drivers and passengers in public transport are required to wear masks and could face fines for failing to do so.
Prime Minister Andrej Plenković admitted that Croatia, after successfully fighting off the pandemic, was now facing a second wave.
"What is happening now, given the increased communication, open borders, and more than 250 thousand tourists who are in Croatia right now, is that the virus is here with us. The good news is that we don't have anyone who is in critical condition, no one is on a ventilator. I don't want to say that these numbers were expected, however, given the flow of people, this is not something we cannot handle."
Croatia had several weeks of only a handful of cases in late May and early June, even as the economy had resumed near-normal activity. The biggest shift appears to have been opening the borders, most notably with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, where many of the imported new cases originated.
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