In recent weeks, demonstrations against measures to combat the still current COVID-19 have increased in different parts of the country. In Krapinske-Toplice, for example, some parents gathered for several days outside a primary school to protest against the mandatory use of masks for children. It does not matter if the vaccination rate in Croatia is one of the lowest in Europe, it seems that the position of a large part of the citizenry is clear: no more restrictions.
On a larger scale, some massive protests have been taking place recently in Zagreb, mainly after the Minister of Health, Vili Beroš, announced that from now on health personnel in hospitals should present EU digital covid certificates in order to be able to work. The decision was not well received by a large section of the population, prompting both a large “protest for freedom” in Ban Jelačić Square, as well as a protest led by nurses and other health workers against the measure.
This morning, as Jutarnji List reports, around 50 protesters and opponents of the measure gathered in front of KBC Zagreb to protest against Vili Beroš and EU digital covid certificates. The Croatian Health Minister was in the middle of a press conference to mark the start of the measure. Among the protesters was a priest, Father Zdravko Knezević.
– ”Hangman, hangman!”, shouted the priest.
– ”Hitler’s associates ended up on the gallows. Betrayal, betrayal! Judas’ misfortunes!”, the priest continued and added that the pandemic was false.
He had a short conversation with Minister Beroš.
“You know everything well”, he told Beroš.
A priest, Father Zdravko Knezević, was among the crowd who arrived to protest against Vili Beroš and confront the Health Minister. Photo: (Patrik Macek/PIXSELL)
The protesters, most of whom were citizens and a small number of KBC employees, did not allow Beroš to speak, chanting “shameful decisions”, “betrayal” and “resignation”, so the minister had to give a statement to the media at the hospital’s Directorate.
“No beginning is easy. I allow the right to different opinions, however, in a situation where the virus has been around for a year and a half to deny its existence, numerous deaths and difficult situations are not justified. My task is to ensure the security of the health system and I will try to do so”, said Beroš, referring to the protesters.
“As the Minister of Health, my task is to ensure the safety of all service users but also employees. Everyone has the same conditions, there is no discrimination. We do not force anyone to get vaccinated, but testing is what the profession considers the basic condition for safe work, and we do it for the sake of Croatian citizens and our patients”, he said.
As of Monday, every employee in the health care system and social care institutions in Croatia must have an EU digital covid certificate, as well as visitors and accompanying patients. All healthcare professionals who come to work from today must show a covid certificate, whether they have been vaccinated or have recovered from covid, while others must be tested twice a week.
Beroš reiterated that the measures are temporary and that they will change depending on the development of the epidemiological situation and vaccination. “It’s not clear to me why someone doesn’t want to be tested, why someone doesn’t want to contribute to the safety of the health care system. What are their motives? I really can’t understand them at the moment”.
Despite the protest against Vili Beroš, most health workers arrived with their EU digital covid certificates in order to work at the hospital. (Photo: Patrik Macek/PIXSELL)
He said 10 tests revealed 10 asymptomatic positive patients in hospitals yesterday. “They would get into the system and be able to spread the virus, and we don’t want that. Therefore, that also indicates that the measure is justified at this point.”
He said that before making a decision on the introduction of mandatory covid certificates, legal experts on constitutional law were consulted and they believe that health protection is above all.
The director of KBC Zagreb, Ante Ćorušić, stated that the police were called to the protest against Vili Beroš and that most of this morning’s protesters were not hospital employees.
Testing of health professionals who do not have a covid certificate at that hospital started yesterday and everything went well. To date, 690 employees have been tested and two have been positive. Vaccination within the KBC is relatively good, 81.5 percent of doctors and 56 percent of nurses have been vaccinated”, said Ćorušić.
“Most employees follow the procedure. The work process continues normally, the operating program goes on, the polyclinic works, the day hospital. Everything is as before”, he said, adding that 12,000 people pass through the hospital every day.
As a reminder, as of Monday, every employee in the health care system and social care institutions in Croatia must have an EU digital covid certificate, as well as visitors and patient escorts.
All healthcare professionals who come to work from today must show a covid certificate, whether they have been vaccinated or have recovered from covid, while others must be tested twice a week.
For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language.