The Pelješki most (Pelješac Bridge) might be the first victim of the coronavirus in Croatia. The Chinese factory which is building the steel structures for the bridge is temporarily closing. Fortunately, the virus has not yet reached Croatia.
Coronavirus Closes Chinese Steel Structure Factory
The virus has paralyzed China, and that now includes the factory where steel structures are being made for the Pelješki most, according to Vibor Vlainić/Dnevnik on February 13, 2020. This does not mean that work on the bridge will cease in Croatia, but the question remains what will happen when the time comes to install these new structures.
Will the steel structures arrive in Croatia on time? Hrvatske autoceste (Croatian Roads) indicated that the contractor has not asked for an extension. The bridge is scheduled to open on July 31, 2021.
“The contractor (China Road and Bridge Corporation) has taken all the necessary measures, first and foremost, to prevent a potential (coronavirus) health threat to the construction site. They have implemented protective measures at the site and these measures are being enacted according to clear guidelines,” HAC reported.
However, Hrvatske autoceste will not be able to send supervisory engineers to the factory in China due to the rapid spread of the infection in that country.
EU Heath Ministers Meeting: Croatia Will Not Close Borders
Due to the danger of the virus, a meeting of health ministers of all EU member states was held in Brussels at the invitation of the Croatian Presidency.
Although several countries have imposed entry restrictions on passengers who have been in China; Croatia has not yet followed suit. Two Chinese tourists have reported to Croatian hospitals with upper respiratory infections this past month: one in Pula and one in Split. Both tested negative for the coronavirus.
“We are not claiming to be absolutely certain (in our approach) but are taking caution. Everyone is asking about closing the Croatian borders, but that is not presently a realistic option. If the situation escalates; of course, we will consider additional factors. That is the most constructive approach for this situation, because emergency situations require extraordinary measures,” explained Health Minister Vili Beroš.
At the meeting, several countries requested that each passenger coming from a country with confirmed coronavirus cases list each person with whom they have been in contact upon their entry to the European Union. But they eventually arrived at a compromise.
“It is certain that any person would be able to list all the contacts they have had, but it is expected that someone would answer whether they have had contact with people who have showed signs of illness, cough or fever or have been ill,” Beroš added.