Health care workers at a coronavirus testing station in Zargreb (Goran Stanzl/PIXSELL) Health care workers at a coronavirus testing station in Zargreb (Goran Stanzl/PIXSELL)

In a statement released on Wednesday, members of the organization urged health autorities to expand testing to all patients who present with symptoms of acute respiratory infection, such as cough, fever, and shortness of breath. Currently the testing is limited to those patients whose symptoms cannot be  attributed to another cause, who spent time abroad 14 days prior to showing symptoms or were in a country were there is widespread local transmission of the virus, or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. The Chamber also wants more testing for medical workers who are on the front lines of the epidemic. They want medical workers to be classified into risk groups, ranging from high to low. Currently, only medical workers who were told to self-isolate because they had come into contact with an infected individual, have been able to get tested, the Chamber said. Other EU countries are testing much more broadly, especially when it comes to health care workers.

“Croatia has tested nine times fewer people per million than Slovenia. Data from March 24 for Croatia sows that Croatia has tested 776 people per million, while on the same day, Slovenia had tested 7,043 people per million,” the organization said in a statement.

Quick and reliable testing in environments with a potentially higher population of infected individuals, as evidenced by reports issued by WHO and China on the coronavirus, as well as timely contact tracing of those who do test positive can be very useful, the Chamber said.

The organization is also urging the public as well as medical professionals to use personal protective equipment rationally in an effort to prevent a shortage. Single-use surgical gloves and masks are intended for health care workers for specific clinical use, the Chamber also said, adding that single-use masks should only be worn by individuals who are sick, so as not to infect others. They also note that when these masks become moist from breathing into them, the moisture makes it easier for virus particles to stick to them, which is why they are meant for single-time use.