More and more infected in our neighbors. Doctor from BiH: We are not a danger to Croatia

In recent days, the number of infected people in the Croatian neighborhood, in BiH, Serbia and especially in Macedonia, has been growing rapidly.

In Serbia, 96 newly confirmed patients were recorded by 3 pm on Wednesday, another 94 on Thursday, and 93 today.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, 58 new cases were confirmed on Thursday, and a similar average has been recorded for almost two weeks.

Slovenia has eight new infections, the highest in a month and a half. The main Slovenian infectologist, Bojana Beović, recently emphasized that the entrances of the inhabitants of countries from countries that are not in the European Union should be controlled.

The number of new cases is growing not only in the neighborhood but also in our country

The number of newly discovered cases is also growing in Croatia. On Thursday, 11 new cases were confirmed, and today another 12, which is the largest increase in new cases since May 12, when 11 new cases were recorded.

Due to the jump in the number of newly infected people in Croatia and the surrounding area, the second wave of the epidemic began to be mentioned in public, and experts warn that we have relaxed too much.

The appeal not to travel to countries like BiH and Serbia will be difficult to implement

Director of the Clinic for Infectious Diseases Dr. Fran Mihaljević Alemka Markotić called on the citizens of Croatia not to travel to countries like BiH and Serbia, where there are hotspots of covida-19. She pointed out that the newly infected mostly stayed in those countries.

“Most of them are people who were in BiH and Serbia, one in Slovenia, mostly at meetings by the nature of work. It would be good, given that there are hotspots in BiH and Serbia, that no one who has an urgent need goes to those areas, ”she pointed out.

However, since Croatia has very soft borders with these countries, especially with BiH, where many have dual citizenship, it is clear that this appeal will be difficult to implement in practice. In addition, it would be logical to expect that Croatia has significantly greater reasons to fear the mass arrival of tourists.

What is the situation in BiH?

Primarius Goran Cerkez, a public health specialist, assistant health minister and member of the Crisis Staff of the Federation of BiH, explained to Index what the situation is in the neighboring country and what can realistically be done to prevent new outbreaks in the region.

“BiH is currently the biggest hotspot in Tuzla Canton, in several cities,” Cerkez told Index.

“Most of them are in Živinice, where it all started. A certain number of cases exist in Tešanj and some in Sarajevo. The entry of the virus into Tešanj happened in one production program. It is now in the remediation phase. All contacts have been discovered and things are In addition, we have an increased number of infections in Tuzla Canton, which is largely due to the return of BiH citizens working in the European Union.We have people who came from the Scandinavian countries, Sweden and Norway, who imported the infection. “About 600 cases are currently active, of which 394 are in the Federation. The situation in the Federation is clearly seen on our interactive map (see here or on the map below, op.a.),” Cerkez said.

“In the Federation of BiH, an average of about 25 new infections have been recorded daily in recent days, mostly in the Tuzla Canton, where we have 186 cases. There are another 119 confirmed cases in Zenica-Doboj Canton, of which about 95% are concentrated in Tesanj. “Thanks to epidemiological measures, that number will soon begin to fall. There are only six active cases in the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton. In the Una-Sana Canton, which is also close to Croatia, only 23 active cases have been confirmed,” he explained.

Circassian: We cannot close completely

BiH has not yet opened its borders, and no opening is planned before July 1st. They are open only to neighboring countries and to BiH citizens throughout Europe.

We have already written on the Index that the borders with BiH are soft and that they were crossed even when traveling between counties in Croatia was difficult. Many in BiH at the time also had passes.

“It can’t be prevented, we can’t close completely,” Cerkez points out.

“We constantly have open borders with Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro. We simply have to learn to live with the virus. We cannot completely eliminate the virus by any measures, except to close it completely. As in BiH, there is a risk that with the opening of borders we will have imports “virus, so it exists in every country in the region and the world. Today we live in a globalized world where people move a lot,” Cerkez said.


Goran Čerkez

“When it comes to testing, we need to be realistic and know that no guarantee can give us that someone will present us with a negative test at the border. Someone today can be negative, without symptoms, and a few days later can be positive. So, no one can guarantee that a new outbreak will not appear.We could only guarantee this if we lived permanently in a lockdown.We must be aware of this.But we should try to monitor the epidemiological situation and when an infection occurs, we must immediately conduct testing, isolation and other measures that are mostly the same all over the world. There is no essential difference, “says Cerkez.

“Countries should not be stigmatized, BiH is not particularly risky”

He points out that in BiH and the region, even in the greatest crisis, there was some economic communication.

“It was reduced, but it existed. Every country is trying to protect itself from viruses from outside. The return of the virus is happening elsewhere in the world, currently in China, among others. Therefore, I do not think BiH is at any greater risk than any other country. “On the other hand, Croatia has also opened up a lot, so it is to be expected that at some point in the foreseeable future, if a larger number of infected people appear somewhere in European countries, it will have imports,” says Cerkez.

He points out that there are no borders in pandemics and that neither individual nations nor states should be stigmatized:

“I think it is not correct to constantly point out where the virus came from. As people are stigmatized, we now stigmatize entire countries by citing them as sources of the virus. What happened in BiH is not something that comes from BiH from within. We had a similar situation. and similar measures as Croatia had. We even started with them at the same time. We had a very good cooperation with Croatia in that sense, among others with Krunoslav Capak. I think we did a very good job in the whole region in the first strike. “I wouldn’t talk about the second wave yet because we are actually still in the first wave, although we have some increase that I would call a new blow,” Cerkez said.

Elections are a special problem

Since parliamentary elections are coming soon, and many people with Croatian citizenship live in BiH, it is to be expected that border crossings in both directions will be intensified. However, Cerkez points out that traffic between BiH and Croatia at small border crossings is always strong.

“Many people from BiH work in Croatia, and many have Croatian passports. Even if people from BiH were banned from entering Croatia, people with Croatian passports would have the right to enter. Thousands cross from one country to another every day. Therefore. it is very difficult to make any serious restrictions here, “warns Cerkez.

Markotic says that no infected people were found among the tourists, and Kaic was surprised by that

It is feared that the risk of an increase in the number of patients in Croatia is even higher than in BiH, because tourists have already started arriving in large numbers, and there will be more and more of them.

Markotic claims that no infected people were found among the tourists, but the first epidemiologist of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Bernard Kaic, said on Friday that he was surprised by such data.

“There are two possibilities. One is that so many more of our people go abroad and come back, and the other possibility is that we recognize the disease in our people, and not in tourists that they walk around sick and infect people. These are all assumptions, but it is very unusual that so many tourists enter without any of them being infected. A larger number of tests would certainly make it easier to detect, “Kaic said.


Bernard Kaić

“We would be better at attracting tourists if we adhered to the measures, because that is what some countries with which we have negotiations expect, which have not opened borders to us, and which may not open them because of that,” Kaic told Index.

Cerkez: It would be naive to expect that it will not be a consequence of Croatia’s opening to tourism

Cerkez emphasizes that life in the European Union means sharing good and bad, and that this sometimes means sharing risks.

“The risk certainly exists. We have a pandemic. When it started in China, many wondered if it would reach Europe. If we know that over 500,000 people travel by plane from China around the world alone every day, it was naive to expect that the virus would not come to It is similar in this situation It would be naive to expect that there will be no consequences from Croatia’s opening to tourism But at this point it is very important that epidemiological services quickly identify and isolate infected people I am sure that Croatia as well as other countries in region, inherits a very good school, and that is the school of public health “, states Cerkez.

“When I talk about our reactions, I rely on the people who inherited that school. We should remind ourselves that in this region, both Croatia and BiH have insisted from the very beginning on some measures such as wearing masks, which were in question even in the world. We have now come to the situation that some of the things that we have been propagating since the early days of the pandemic have started to be propagated by the World Health Organization itself, so we have good experts and we have good conditions, so it is now very important to follow “I hope we have enough intelligence to prevent it. There are risks, no one can eliminate them, but they should be kept to a minimum,” said our interlocutor from BiH. .

Relaxation is expected, but expensive

Cerkez also referred to the complaints of experts that people in Croatia have relaxed too much by easing the measures. According to Kaić, we even receive complaints from tourists that our citizens do not adhere to the recommended measures.

The Bosnian expert believes that relaxation is understandable because people can hardly live longer in conditions of strict social distance. But he points out that it is dangerous because the virus is still there and will be for a long time.

“One thing that is forgotten in a pandemic is the mental health of people. We in BiH have had very good psychosocial telephone and online support for people. We must know that this crisis, along with the economic devastation it has caused, has caused major mental health problems. We have 46 mental health centers in the Federation of BiH alone, we had 24 hour support for people in all of them, we even had calls from neighboring countries in some of them, which is very important, we have been developing this system since 1996. Today we have a lot of multidisciplinary teams of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and nurses.Even the World Health Organization has recognized our system as one of the best of its kind, namely in post-crisis situations it is to be expected that people will relax. it costs, ”says Circassian.

In a pandemic, love is not expressed by kissing and hugging, but by distance

He reminds that the mentality of the people in the region is not the same as in the Scandinavian countries.

“We love to kiss and hug. But today, love is expressed by keeping our distance, not hugging and kissing. It is important to be very conscientious citizens of our countries. Because if we love our country and our people, neighbors and relatives, we must act towards In this situation, the only guarantee is masks, distance, increased personal hygiene and general compliance with measures that are well designed by public health institutes, both in Croatia and in BiH, which will certainly reduce the risks. For example, what is happening in Živinice is happening precisely because some people have realized that with the lifting of measures, we no longer have the virus, “Cerkez said at the end.

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