Croatia extends coronavirus lockdown
People wearing face masks watch the removal of the north tower of Zagreb's iconic cathedral that is threatening to collapse after being heavily damaged earthquake on March 22. AFP
Croatia on Saturday extended its lockdown measures until May 4, as officials warned the danger of the coronavirus pandemic was not yet over for the small EU member.
Croatia originally imposed a lockdown on March 19 for 30 days, banning all public gatherings and closing all shops except for foodstores, pharmacies and petrol stations. Schools and kindergartens were also closed and people were only allowed to leave their towns and cities of residence with special permission.
The confinement measures will now "remain in force until May 4," a statement by the national civil protection authority said. Croatia, with a population of 4.2 million, reported its first case of COVID-19 in late February. But that number has since risen to 1,832, including 36 deaths.
"We have favourable numbers, the situation is improving," the head of the country's public health institute, Krunoslav Capak, told a news conference Saturday. But, he warned that the "danger is not over". The authorities are reviewing the lockdown measures and would gradually lift them, Capak said.
Croatia is particularly concerned about the impact of the confinement measures on its important tourism industry. International think-tanks are forecasting a decline in the country's economy of 5.0-9.0 percent this year.