Alemka Markotic Discusses Autumn with Coronavirus, Russian Vaccine

Lauren Simmonds

Alemka Markotic, who has become a real household name since the appearance of the new coronavirus in Croatia, commented on how the health system plans to differentiate between coronavirus and flu in autumn. She also touched on the Russian vaccine and stated that scientists learned through the media that the vaccine had suddenly appeared.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 13th of August, 2020, Croatia recorded its second biggest increase in newly infected persons over the last few days since the beginning of the pandemic. A large number of young people are among the new patients. Due to the new situation, measures for nightclubs are being tightened, and inspections will be intensified.

There will be celebrations of the Assumption throughout the country over the weekend, and when it comes to how the national headquarters plans to keep the situation under control, a reporter from Dnevnik Nova TV asked Dr. Alemka Markotic, the director of the ”Fran Mihaljevic” Clinic for Infectious Diseases.

“It’s good that there are not too many hospitalised people, but it isn’t good that the numbers are increasing, because with increasing numbers, more severe forms of the disease can also appear. The tips are the same ones we’ve been repeating for months now – maintain a distance and keep up your hygiene. “The moment people think the numbers are smaller, they start relaxing,” said Alemka Markotic.

She pointed out that there is nothing new in the recommendations for the operation of nightclubs and that everything has already been communicated with the owners of such facilities. Being indoors carries an increased risk and therefore it is better for everyone who can work outdoors to do so, she added.

Alemka Markotic also commented on the Russian vaccine and stated that scientists learned through the media that it had appeared. Expert data on the research behind the vaccine are lacking, she emphasised, especially data on the most important part, the third phase, in which the vaccine should be tested on thousands of people, so that we know that it is effective and we can become acquainted with any possible side effects.

She added that currently six vaccines are in the final stages of clinical research, two are from China and four come from other parts of the world.

Once a vaccine for the new coronavirus becomes available, preference will be given to people who are at the highest risk of serious illness and death if they contract the disease, and to healthcare workers, as well as those who are more exposed to the virus due to the nature of their work.

As for the beginning of the school year, Alemka Markotic said that the plan is for all children to go to school and to monitor how the situation develops as it goes, so that they can react quickly if an infection occurs.

“So far, according to scientific research and studies, it seems that children, especially the younger ones, aren’t particularly significant carriers of the COVID-19 disease, so we expect children to go to school regularly,” she said, adding that there is a slightly higher risk in high schools, because children of that age have typically already started going out and doing more adult things without the supervision of their parents.

If a child becomes infected, epidemiologists will assess each situation separately, she pointed out, because the possibility that the infection did not occur at school cannot be ruled out.

When asked how Croatia will differentiate coronavirus from the flu and virus in the autumn, when flu usually starts making its rounds, she replied: ”Clinically, it will be difficult to distinguish between the two, but doctors and the health system will do their best to define which disease it is. It will certainly be advised that those with milder respiratory problems stay at home, and that those with more severe symptoms come to the hospital,” said Dr. Alemka Markotic.

For more on coronavirus in Croatia, follow our dedicated section.


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