Epidemiologists working on Croatia’s response to the pandemic were expecting some outbreaks after the country relaxed restrictions last month, but the scope of the sudden spike in cases at the end of June has taken them by surprise.
Krunoslav Capak, the head of the Croatian Public Health Bureau and one of the leading figures in the response to the pandemic, said in an interview on Croatian Television on Saturday night that the outbreaks in Zagreb and Đakovo were bigger and stronger than experts had expected. Croatia had only a handful of cases over several weeks in May and appeared to be out of the woods, but it has recorded 366 new cases over the last 20 days.
“Ten days ago we had some imported cases by people who arrived here positive, socialized with their families and friends, went out to restaurants and bars, and the virus began to spread. At first the number was small, but now we have two major flashpoints. We expected that, but not that it would be as severe as it is,” Capak admitted.
He said epidemiologists were responding diligently to the spike in cases, contact tracing, and ordering people into self-isolation. The situation will hopefully be under control in about 10 days, he said.
Asked whether measures such as social distancing, avoiding physical contact with others, and personal hygiene could prevent a larger number of infections and potentially a large number of cases among the most vulnerable groups, the elderly and the sick, he said the measures could keep the virus under control. He noted that the World Health Organization has announced that a second wave is certainly expected in September, unless the virus mutates or disappears, and experts estimate that it could be even more severe.
Capak was interviewed via Skype because he is self-isolating after attending a conference earlier this month, where someone he had been in contact with tested positive for Covid-19.
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