Tuesday, 04 August 2020
Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

The Swiss airline, Helvetic Airways, has shown a creative approach to travel in these Covid-19 dominated times, by offering pop-up flights. Whilst we all might be accustomed to pop-up stores and even pop-up cinemas, pop-up flights are something of a new phenomenon. These flights are not for those who like to plan months in advance or gain the benefits of early bird bookings, this is all about last (last) minute. According to a report on EX-YU Aviation Helvetic Airways have joined forces with a travel operator, Meersicht, to offer these short notice flights.

Helvetic Airlines has announced a flight to Dubrovnik from Zurich on the 14th of August and to Brač on the 27th of July, and they plan to launch even more pop-up flights to Croatia. EX-YU Aviation writes that “Helvetic is offering travellers the opportunity to book both a flight and hotel package or simply a flight. All services will be operated by the Embraer E190-E2 jet.”


The director of the Croatian National Tourist Board (CNTB), Kristjan Staničić, said on Wednesday that Croatia was a hit tourist destination and that tourist traffic was already at 40 percent of last year’s figures, and he hoped for further growth, while at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic he had believed that 30 percent of last year’s numbers would be a realistic target.

The director of the CNTB held a coordination meeting with the director of the Zadar County Tourist Board, Mihael Kadija, and 28 representatives of the county tourist boards of cities and municipalities at the Kolovare Hotel.

He pointed out that in this time of crisis they had focused on the nearest markets - Slovenia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, given that the Croatian coast is mostly a self-drive destination.

"We conducted several promotional campaigns in foreign markets, and given the epidemic, we focused on the nearest markets in our area. Growing figures show that Croatia is a hit destination. At the same time, we are ready to respond to negative articles in foreign media that are focused on keeping domestic tourists within the borders of their countries," Stanisic said.



When asked by the press how he commented on the fact that the Netherlands put Croatia on the orange list, without specific data on how many people per 100,000 inhabitants have been infected in the last two weeks, he said that it is difficult to give any estimates for the season to continue.

"I believe that the situation will change soon, because every 14 days the list is updated, and the number of infected in our country is declining. I also believe that in good communication and the epidemiological situation we will return to the green list. As for the criteria, they are not unique for all countries", said Staničić and emphasized that this is only a recommendation of the Netherlands that their citizens go into self-isolation upon their return from Croatia.

Staničić also presented the promotional activities carried out by the CNTB with the aim of positioning Croatia as a safe tourist destination in the current market circumstances and future activities which will, among other things, include the adoption of new bylaws and regulations that will further improve and regulate tourism processes.

In the past 24 hours, 108 people have become newly infected in Croatia, and two people have unfortunately passed away, the National Civil Protection Headquarters reported on Wednesday.

"In the past 24 hours, 108 new cases of coronavirus have been recorded, so the number of currently ill in Croatia is 1,127," said Health Minister, Vili Beros, at a press conference.

He also stated that two people had died, which means that 125 people have died so far since the beginning of the epidemic.

Two men died at the Osijek Clinical Hospital, one born in 1946 and the other in 1945. Both patients had a number of pathological conditions and one of them was on a ventilator.

As of February 25, when the first case of Covid-19 infection was recorded, the number of positive cases of coronavirus in Croatia is 4,530.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, 106,805 people have been tested, and in the last 24 hours, 1,279 of them, or 4.24 percent were positive.

143 people are currently in hospital and nine are on a ventilaor. The average age of patients is 47.1 years.

To date, 3,278 people have made a full recoery, and in the last 24 hours, 12 more patienst have made a recovery and have been released from hospital.


In the last 24 hours, no new cases of coronavirus infection have been recorded in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County.

A total of 5 people are currently hospitalized in Dubrovnik General Hospital. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 5,445 samples have been sent for analysis.

There are 298 people in self-isolation, and in the last 24 hours no violation of the self-isolation measure has been established.

The headquarters of the Civil Protection of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County continues to appeal to the citizens to adhere to all prescribed measures by the Croatian Institute of Public Health and the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia.


The effect of the Covid-19 pandemic is possibly best shown with the number of invoices issued by businesses up and down the country during the crisis. Clearly the tourism and travel industry is on the front line in the battle for revenue with tourism numbers seriously down on 2019. But the knock-on effect across the country shouldn’t be ignored. From coffees in street cafes, bottles of local wine, seafood, transport, banking and real estate just about every branch has been badly hit due to the lack of tourists.



From the 24th of February to the 19th of July the number of invoices issued in Croatia was down by 30 percent when compared to the same time period from last year. An invoice could be a multi-million Euro deal between two companies or a 10 Kuna bill for a cup of coffee. But a drop of 30 percent clearly shows the negatives effects the Covid-19 pandemic is having. Of course there is a corresponding drop in the value of invoices issued, this time by 19 percent, according to data from the Croatian Tax Administration.

Restaurants in Croatia have been particularly hit by the Covid-19 crisis with a massive 48 percent decrease in the number of bills issued in the mentioned period, and a huge decrease in value of those invoices by a whopping 57 percent. It is hardly surprising that many restaurants have laid off staff, cut costs or closed down altogether.

Likewise, the accommodation sector has been hit with a 30 percent decrease in the number of invoices issued in the mentioned.

The Chinese contractor on the Peljesac Bridge, China Bridge and Road Corporation (CRBC), has finally found a way to bring the workers necessary for the installation of the steel span structure of the bridge to its construction site in Croatia and China.

As confirmed to Večernji list by CRBC, they have arranged a charter flight from China with one airline, which will bring its workers, including welders needed to enlarge the segments of the span assembly, to Croatia. The Croatian representative office of CRBC says that they plan to bring about 150 workers this summer, of which 100 are welders.

"Preparation of the charter flight is going smoothly and it is predicted that it will land in Croatia at the end of July," commented CRBC.

And as they said in Hrvatske ceste, that flight was planned for July 27, and will land at Dubrovnik Airport. But given the coronavirus pandemic, the arriving Chinese workers will not go to the construction site immediately, but will first have to go through self-isolation. Thus, the CRBC says that these 150 people, after coming to Croatia, will be accommodated in a hotel that they have booked for 14 days of self-isolation.

In addition, due to the coronavirus, production in Chinese plants that produce parts for the Peljesac Bridge has been suspended for some time. But now 28 new segments are ready for the trip to Croatia, which, as confirmed in CRBC, will be loaded on a ship for Croatia at the end of August after the quality check.


Croatia has found itself on the Dutch orange list of countries since Tuesday due to an increase in Covid-19 cases, and Dutch citizens are "strongly recommended" to have a 14-day self-isolation upon their return to the country, the authorities there announced.

"Travel warnings for Bulgaria, Romania, Sweden and Croatia will remain orange for a while. This is due to the epidemiological situation in those countries. If you still decide to travel there, it is strongly recommended that you go into 14-day self-isolation immediately upon returning to the Netherlands," reads the website of the Dutch government.

"Currently, the coronavirus infection rate in Croatia has increased. Therefore, the country from yellow has been placed on the orange list of countries," the government said.
The Dutch government also warns citizens that the situation with any country can change abruptly and that they keep this in mind when making travel plans.


ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, not really a name that rolls off the tongue, however it could be one that becomes part of daily life. This rather long and complicated abbreviation is the name given to a vaccine for Covid-19 that Oxford University has been developing since January, and the first trials have shown that the vaccine is safe.

The studies involved 1,077 people and showed that the vaccine helped to produce antibodies and T-cells that are able to fight the Covid-19 virus, reports the BBC.

Of course, it is too early to say whether the vaccine is sufficient for protection, but the findings are very promising. The UK has already ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine.

The vaccine was named ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. It is evolving at an unprecedented rate. It is made from a virus that causes colds in chimpanzees, writes the BBC.

The virus has been severely altered so that it cannot infect humans and resembles the coronavirus as much as possible. This means that the vaccine mimics it and that the immune system can ‘learn’ how to attack it.

The study found that 90 percent of people developed neutralizing antibodies after a single dose. Only ten people received two doses and all produced neutralizing antibodies.

Most research deals with antibodies, but they are only one element of the human immune system. Antibodies are tiny proteins produced by the immune system that stick to the surface of the virus and can disable it.

T-cells, a type of white blood cell, help coordinate the immune system by spotting which cells in the body are being attacked and destroying them.

Almost all effective vaccines include both antibodies and T cells. In a study by experts from Oxford, the number of T-cells jumped by 14 days and the number of antibodies 28 days after vaccination.

The vaccine is safe, but there are side effects, which are not dangerous. Fever or headache was developed by 70 percent of people. These side effects, scientists say, can be addressed with paracetamol.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done before we confirm that our vaccine will help fight the pandemic, but these results are promising,” said Sarah Gilbert of Oxford University.

The vaccine will certainly not be widely used for months to come, but according to what we have been able to see so far, important steps have been taken in the direction of the coronavirus vaccine, writes the BBC. Adding that “More than 10,000 people will take part in the next stage of the trials in the UK.”


The Voice of Dubrovnik


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