June 13, 2020 — Croatia has, for now, remained lax about citizens wearing masks. But the policy may change, depending on the coronavirus’s trajectory.
In the event of a second wave of COVID-19 or the appearance of a larger hotspot due to the tourist season in Croatia, masks will be recommended. They may even become mandatory, according to Jutarnji List.
Since the virus appeared, conflicting information has followed as to whether masks are needed or not, or whether they prevent the spread of coronavirus.
A number of studies have emerged that indicate their effectiveness, and the World Health Organization has also expressed a preference for wearing them.
If a second wave occurs, authorities in Croatia have made it clear that there will be no repeat of the restrictive measures used during March and April — the economy couldn’t stand it. Therefore, accountability and adherence to physical distance measures, maintaining hygiene and wearing masks will be key to defense.
Bernard Kaić, head of the Epidemiology Service of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, believes that masks are a good solution.
“It is very likely that we will go with this recommendation because the conclusion is that masks provide protection,” he said. “This applies to both the healthy and the sick and those who suspect they might be sick. Of course, the best surgical masks, but also cloth ones, can offer protection.” He added the recommendation for wearing masks refers primarily to closed spaces, but also to public ones if the physical distance is insufficient.
The Minister of Health, Vili Beroš, also confirmed that masks are being seriously considered, pointing out that the epidemic is not over.
“The disease is new, so it took some time to draw conclusions,” Beroš said. “So it is with protective masks. They were found to offer protection. Of course, we are not talking about 100% protection because it has been proven that the virus can enter the body through the eye that is not covered with a mask.” Nevertheless, he added, this is significant protection that cannot be ignored in any case.
“Therefore, masks should be worn in every closed space, public transport, places where a large number of people gather. This is a global struggle that we must all win together, and this can only be done with discipline and responsible behavior. If that means wearing masks, we’ll do it too. It is important that COVID-19 becomes just a bad memory as soon as possible,” Beroš said.
He added there will be enough masks for wider use for all citizens, Croatia has started its own production of protective masks.
“Whether wearing masks will be just a recommendation or an obligation, it is too early to say,” the minister said. “Of course, as from the beginning of the epidemic, everything depends on the epidemiological situation.”
Recent research shows that face masks can prevent the spread of coronavirus by 40 percent, which is by no means a negligible figure. The research was conducted by gradually introducing masks into indoor spaces, such as shops and public transport across Germany, to examine the effectiveness of wearing this type of protection.
Looking at the new cases in the days that followed, the researchers concluded that there was statistical support that the masks had greatly reduced the number of cases.
That there are bases for the positive effects of wearing masks is also shown by the fact that they have been mandatory in public transport in the UK since Monday, and it is being worked on that this rule also applies in stores.
On April 6, the German city of Jena introduced the obligation to wear masks, on April 20 this was done in Saxony. Statistics showed the masks worked and that the number of infected people was decreasing.
In the following days, the rest of the country did the same, allowing scientists to compare culturally similar regions.
The conclusion is that the introduction of face masks in Jena resulted in a reduction of almost 25 percent of the cumulative number of reported cases of COVID-19 after 20 days, and the biggest drop, more than 50 percent, was for the most vulnerable group – those over 60 years old.