Could Croatian Public Services Grind to a Halt Under Omicron Pressure?

Lauren Simmonds

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As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Omicron is spreading like wildfire through Croatian public services, and due to the large number of employees on sick leave or in self-isolation, some basic functioning issues have been caused.

The most dramatic situation at the moment can be found in Zagreb’s ZET, which is lacking as many as 390 bus and tram drivers. Every fifth ZET driver is off work.

“I’m familiar with the problems ZET is dealing with at the minute. The new strain of the novel coronavirus has created some major problems in public affairs. A large number of employees working for Croatian public services are in self-isolation. This is difficult to organise properly as we’re learning that drivers are becoming infected literally overnight. Some corrections have been made as far as the lines are concerned, the schedule has been reduced, but all in all, I don’t think that people are overly affected by this situation,” said Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomasevic.

Railway traffic is also in trouble, and HZ passenger traffic (putnicki prijevoz) is afraid that this is just the beginning. One line, on the Osijek-Bizovac route, has already been interrupted.

“On Thursday and Friday, passengers will be transported by buses on that line. There’s a noticeable upward trend in the illness of our employees and our employees being put into self-isolation,” they said from HZ. At the moment, 19 workers who are employed as train staff and 21 workers who are machine staff aren’t at work, and another 12 of them are in self-isolation owing to coronavirus infection, Jutarnji list writes.

In Zagreb’s Cistoca, on the other hand, a concerning number of 70 workers are currently on sick leave, and there are only 2050 of them all together. So far, they say, this doesn’t seriously affect their functioning, but it might. Coronavirus is also being regularly encountered at the Student Centre here in the capital. There are currently 45 workers in self-isolation.

“Existing workers are being redeployed to Student Centre restaurants where the sick leave rate has increased, so we’re bridging this situation,” director Mirko Bosnjak explained.

The situation is a bit better for the Public Fire Brigade in the City of Zagreb, as there are currently only 3 coronavirus positive employees, and 3 more are in self-isolation.

“We have a total of 330 workers, and we’ve been lucky, if I may say so, that not too many of them became infected at once, it’s been happening little by little,” revealed Commander Sinisa Jembrih.

Other Croatian public services which don’t immediately spring to mind like ZET drivers might are also facing issues. Customs officers are very much struggling with the spread of Omicron. At the moment, 106 of them are infected or in self-isolation, but the Customs Administration has assured Jutarnji list that the traffic of goods and passengers across border crossings, as well as at internal customs offices, is being dealt with regularly.

“Constant chaos”

Varazdin County has had no particular problems with people being off sick or needing to be in self-isolation while working for the Croatian public services there, but it does have a problems with school and education system employees. the students of three schools are still taking online classes due to the spread of Omicron among their teachers. This number is posing an issue every day and recently a further 31 teachers became infected, and 15 of them were placed in self-isolation.

Medjimurje residents have a bigger problem with their local healthcare workers, although so far there are have been no real problems with the organisation of their work. There are about 30 employees currently ”out of service” due to coronavirus.

Over in Pula, due to the current situation with the spread of Omicron, most of the Croatian public services affected are the General Hospital and the Teaching Institute for Emergency Medicine. According to the director of the Pula General Hospital, Irena Hrstic, this month alone, 155 of their staff fell ill, out of a total of about 900 employees. Of course, these aren’t all solely health professionals.

“We’re in a state of chaos all the time, so that hasn’t changed. But, we’re working and covering ourselves as much as we can, so we do double, triple and all kinds of shifts,” she pointed out.

In the Vukovar-based utility company Komunalac, which provides waste collection services in the city, there are 35 workers out of 223 sick or in self-isolation, which is almost 16 percent of the total number of their employees. However, according to the company’s director Igor Strangarevic, they’re still managing to do everything they need to do.

In the Osijek Public Utility Company, 10 out of 88 firefighters are off work, which is why, according to Commander Zoran Paksec, they’ve shifted their work into three shifts, so people rotate more often.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn’t English.


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