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.
The director of the Croatian Institute of Emergency Medicine (HZHM) and a member of the National Civil Protection Headquarters, Maja Grba Bujevic, said on HTV's "Good Morning Croatia" show that the epidemiological situation in Croatia, when numbers of new Covid-19 cases are rising, that we must be aware that face masks have become part of our everyday lives.
She stressed that face masks are now part of the fight against coronavirus. Grba Bujević pointed out that there are a lot of people who are asymptomatic, meaning that they do not have any symptoms and do not know that they are ill. She added that such people can spread the virus to other people and that is why wearing masks is very important.
The director of HZHM said that there are some people who cannot wear masks. The World Health Organization has recommended that masks do not have to be worn by children under the age of two. She added that even such small children should get used to protective masks so as not to create an aversion to masks, but they have no obligation to wear masks.
Grba Bujević said that there is a group of sick people who find it difficult to wear masks, and this group also includes people with disabilities who cannot physically put a mask on their face and take it off. She added that people suffering from some mental illnesses must talk to a psychiatrist in order to wear masks. A member of the National Civil Protection Headquarters said that the mask does not have to be worn by people who have chronic diseases, especially those related to breathing difficulties in ordinary circumstances.
She said that a lot of education is required and that we need to understand that masks will be more and more a part of our everyday life. Grba Bujević emphasized that care should also be taken of people who are hard of hearing and rely on lip reading.
“The person speaking to someone who is lip reading actually has to take off the mask, but in doing so one should take great care of the physical distance,” she pointed out.
She stressed that it still stands that masks don’t have to be worn outside although social distancing should be maintained.
The World Health Organization reported that a record daily increase in the number of people infected with the new coronavirus of 237,743 cases was recorded in the world on Friday.
The largest increases are in the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa, the WHO said in a daily report.
The previous daily record for Covid-19 cases was 230,370 on July 12.
The number of deaths has remained steady at an average of 5,000 in July.
The total number of cases of Covid-19 in the world on Friday approached 14 million, according to Reuters, and will soon cross another threshold in the seven months since the start of the spread of the new coronavirus, which has killed 590,000 people so far.
There was a slogan used by the Croatian National Tourist Board which sums up where I am currently calling home perfectly – The Mediterranean as it once was. After 22 years of living in Dubrovnik there is only one part of the county that my feet hadn’t touched. That final piece of the puzzle has now been solved. Lastovo!
An island paradise, a place that time has forgot and a yachter’s dream. It quickly appeared that I was not the only citizen of Dubrovnik not to visited the furthest inhabited Croatian island from the mainland. “Oh, I have always wanted to go there, but it’s so far away,” was basically the standard reply I received. In one way they were right. The connections to Lastovo from Dubrovnik are, well let’s be diplomatic and say, time-consuming. I could have probably been in any other city in the whole of Croatia in the time it took me to get to Lastovo. And this is an island that is in our county!
First impressions – a smaller and wilder version of Mljet. The sea is clear. No, that is a massive understatement. The sea makes a bottle of Jana look cloudy. I have probably never seen a cleaner sea in my life. And the colours and shades. Degas’s palette didn’t have half of the blues I have seen in the sea around Lastovo, and Edgar did love those blue shades.
The old slogan really sums it up perfectly, both in a positive way and a negative way. For the nature is best untouched but the man made things could do with some serious touching. Apart from the natural amphitheatre that is the town of Lastovo the other coastal settlements are, being diplomatic again, less attractive. But that is so often the case, for in terms of beauty man can’t beat nature.
“No, I am originally from Zagreb and moved here a couple of years ago,” said a waitress in a beach bar. She was followed by a lady renting kayaks from Pula, a couple who own a restaurant from Slavonia and a chef from Zagreb. Finding someone born on the island was proving to be challenging. “Yes, we are born and bred on the island, I’m 82 and my wife is 80,” smiled a couple as they bounced through a wooded pathway down to a beach. We had found the middle of nowhere, on an island in the middle of nowhere, and there were a couple from Lastovo, like some almost extinct species.
Split seems to be the main destination. The honey pot that the bees of Lastovo migrate to. “Yes, we feel much more part of Split than Dubrovnik,” answered an islander with a deep Split accent. “Even though it takes us five hours to get to Split by ferry, it is closer than Dubrovnik. I can’t remember the last time I went to Dubrovnik,” she added with a smile. And that is generally the answer I got from locals. Split is their city. Dubrovnik is a necessary evil. “We were part of the Republic of Dubrovnik for centuries, but now we feel like Dubrovnik has ignored us,” concluded the local. You can’t blame her.
Covid-19 has brought new challenges. To be honest I felt light years away from Covid-19, or indeed anything else from the outside world. But in times of pandemic an island is either the best place to be or the worst place to be, there is no middle ground, no grey area. “Are you from our county?” asked a local. Seemingly when it came to Covid-19 the islanders were back in the Dubrovnik – Neretva County as there were less cases than Split.
Tourism on the island is on life support. The yachts are few and far between. The German campers are more numerous but still far from numerous. On a personal note if it wasn’t for a global pandemic I probably still wouldn’t have ever seen Lastovo. Every cloud has a silver living. And so as I sit with the dawn sunshine washing over my balcony I wonder if I’ll ever see Lastovo again. My guess would be probably not. But a long weekend on the furthest point of our county has certainly helped to bring some order to my thoughts and reprioritise my life, and for that I thank Lastovo.
The National Headquarters announced that Croatia has recorded 86 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours. There are 1,190 active cases, which is 14 less than yesterday. 136 people are hospitalized and six are on a ventilator.
"The shortest way to suppress the epidemic is to adhere to the measures,” commented the Minister of Health, Vili Beroš.
"The number of patients in the world is almost 13.5 million," said Minister Beroš.
He pointed out that on the 143rd day of the appearance of Covid-19 in Croatia, 3,953 people have been infected with coronavirus.
"12 people died in this wave. There are no new hotspots. Covid-19 clinics have been organized in 10 counties," Beroš added.
"In the last twenty days, the situation has worsened and we are recording an increase in the number of infected people, so we are taking selective measures. I am asking citizens for maximum patience and continuous responsible behaviour," concluded Beroš.
In the past 24 hours, 3 new cases of coronavirus infection were recorded in Dubrovnik-Neretva County. These are one male and one female from Župa and a younger male from Konavle. All are contacts of previously known cases. Two people from Dubrovnik have made a full recovery.
A total of 6 people are hospitalized in the Dubrovnik General Hospital. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 5,011 samples have been sent for analysis to Zagreb.
There are currently 234 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.
In the first 14 days of July, more than 950,000 tourists stayed in Croatia, and achieved more than 6.6 million overnight stays, which is at the level of 55 percent of last year's results, which exceeded estimates, expectations and competition, the Croatian Association of Tourism (HUT) said on Wednesday.
HUT estimates that the July tourist results are "primarily the result of the best coastal epidemiological picture in the Mediterranean", adding that "Croatia still has one of the best epidemiological situations in the EU ".
From the beginning of this year to the middle of July, there were more than 2.6 million tourists in Croatia, who realized 14.3 million overnight stays, of which the most, or 5.1 million, were in private accommodation, followed by campsites with 2.6 million and hotels with 2.1 million overnight stays.
Most foreign guests were from Germany, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Austria and Hungary.
According to HUT data, 786 hotels and 395 campsites are currently open in Croatia, and other facilities and facilities in destinations are opened every day.
"Safety standards in all tourist facilities are high, and Croatian epidemiologists have made very detailed guidelines for all types of facilities and tourist services implemented across the country," states HUT.
The head of the National Civil Protection Headquarters and Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović was a guest on the RTL Danas show on Wednesday, in which he spoke about the measures introduced by the headquarters he manages due to the coronavirus epidemic.
“You know that our approach is oriented towards raising people's awareness. At the time when science confirms something, and science knows that the issue of masks, given that we know that it is a virus, initially the World Health Organization gave two interpretations, but now it is consensually accepted that masks protect, especially if they we all wear them indoors,” said the Minister.
He added that “Our goal is for citizens to accept this fact as something that can protect them and others from them when it comes to coronavirus transmission. We will do everything so that we do not have to come to a situation where people are being punished. However, if someone consciously does not want to wear a mask, which is obligatory and thus endangers people's health indoors, then the competent authorities would take some other actions,” said Božinović.
When asked how long he expects people to have to wear masks he answered that “Until a solution is found for this virus and if the scientific community does not change its opinion, then it would last until the end of the epidemic is declared.”
And commenting on the tourism season in Croatia the Minister stated that “There are more than 470,000 tourists in Croatia. I see that the Croatian Tourism Association is currently somewhere at 55 percent of overnight stays compared to 2019. I think that everyone who deals with tourism is doing their best to keep Croatia perceived as a safe country for tourism, and this is shown by the growing numbers of tourists,” he concluded.
The National Civil Protection Headquarters published new data on the number of people infected with Covid-19 in Croatia in the last 24 hours.
The number of new cases in 24 hours is 92, which means that the total number of people who have contracted the virus in the Republic of Croatia since the pandemic began is 3,953. From that total there are 1,204 active cases, and 2,639 people have made a full recovery.
So far, 97,724 people have been tested, of which 1,804 were tested in the last 24 hours. There are currently 132 people in hospital and five patients are on a ventilator.
“Today the number is higher than yesterday, but there are no new hotspots, everything is related to already known situations: gatherings, weddings, an event in Đakovo. The only slightly higher number is in the Karlovac County, and all cases are related to one family where most members became infected,” said Krunoslav Capak, the Director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health.
Asked whether the schools would open in the fall or continue with online classes, Capak replied, “It's too early to talk about it. We have in mind this situation, the summer will pass quickly and at the beginning of September we will have to make that decision and it depends on what the situation will be like. From the experiences of other countries that have opened schools we can say that nothing bad has happened.”
Damir Trut, the Assistant Minister of the Interior for Civil Protection, announced the obligation to wear the mask in some other places, “A decision was made to supplement the decision on the necessary measure of mandatory use of a face mask. The decision added that masks must be worn by employees of companies, institutions and institutions that work with clients, and clients who come there. Also employees of service industries who come into close contact with customers. The decision takes effect today.”