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Croatia: British, African, New York variants confirmed; Czech strain detected; Gov’t ready to buy Russian vaccine

Of 350 sequenced Covid-19 samples, 99 were positive to the British, 2 to the African and 4 to the New York variant, Croatia's Health Minister Vili Beroš said during a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

Zagreb, 4 March 2021 (Hina/MIA) — Of 350 sequenced Covid-19 samples, 99 were positive to the British, 2 to the African and 4 to the New York variant, Croatia’s Health Minister Vili Beroš said during a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, according to the national broadcaster HRT, out of 70 samples taken at the Dubrava Clinical Hospital in February, 20 percent tested positive for the Czech variant.

“The Czech strain is a combination of mutations of the Scottish and British variants of the coronavirus,” the HRT report cites Zagreb Faculty of Science’s Bioinformatics professor Kristian Vlahoviček.

“Since there is a large increase in the number of infected people in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, they were the ones to report this new mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” Vlahoviček said.

Health Minister Beroš said the Croatian Institute for Public Heath (HZJZ) had sent the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control over the past month 10 percent of its positive Covid samples for sequencing and so far the results for 350 of some 1,000 samples have arrived.

“In the past two weeks we are again recording an increase in the number of new cases on the week,” Beroš said.

According to the country’s Covid-19 crisis management team on Thursday, out of the 6,965 coronavirus tests performed in Croatia over the past 24 hours, 667 returned positive. In the said period, 422 people recovered and nine deaths were linked to Covid-19, bringing the death toll to 5,564.

Currently, Croatia has 3,558 active cases, of whom 740 are hospitalized patients, including 69 on ventilators.

There are now 14,456 people self-isolating in the country.

A shipment of 318,680 doses of Covid-19 vaccines have arrived in Croatia so far and 242,666 doses have been administered – one dose to 121,330 people and two to 60,668.

According to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday, the government is more than ready to procure the Russian Sputnik V vaccine as well, once it is approved by the European Medicines Agency.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting, PM Plenković said the government had asked the Russian side for additional documentation on the Sputnik V vaccine and underscored that a formal procedure for the EMA to approve it had begun.

“When the Agency approves the vaccine, we are more than ready to procure it,” the prime minister said.

It is expected that EMA will approve the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this month, which is, he said, another 900,000 doses to be distributed according to a certain dynamic.

Plenković highlighted the still relatively good epidemiological situation in Croatia.

“According to the weekly incidence rate, our country is ranked fourth in the EU in terms of the lowest rate, and we have the lowest incidence among Mediterranean countries and the second lowest among Central European countries,” the Croatian PM said.

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