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Croatian PM Urges Discipline As COVID-19 Cases Reach Peak

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Croatia’s prime minister on Thursday urged discipline in respecting measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic, as the country reached a record number of daily cases.

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Belittling the coronavirus results in “non-compliance with protective measures… which endangers both health and economy,” Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic told a government session.

“The economy must go on … but to ensure that, the personal responsibility of every citizen and discipline are key,” he said, stressing the need for “responsible behaviour”.

Croatia braved the first few months of the pandemic with less than 100 cases daily and then almost no new infections by mid-May.

But new cases have spiked since the Adriatic nation of 4.2 million people opened its borders to tourists for the summer season, hitting a record 542 Thursday.

Croatia has confirmed nearly 19,000 infections and 310 deaths from the respiratory disease.

Its tourism-dependent economy is expected to shrink by nearly 10 percent this year, in what would be the biggest contraction since independence.

Hundreds of owners of bars and restaurants in the capital Zagreb halted heir work for an hour on Thursday to urge the government help them maintain their businesses threatened by the pandemic.

Similar protests were held on the country’s coast in the past weeks.

The owners seek a cut in the value added tax on food and beverages, warning that otherwise thousands of people will lose their jobs.

Several thousand people rallied in early September in Zagreb to protest measures imposed by the authorities which they say endanger human rights and freedoms.

Since mid-July, wearing face masks is mandatory on public transport, and in shops and all services involving close contact with clients.

Restrictions on the number of people attending public gatherings vary depending on the region.

Neighbouring Bosnia on Thursday also reported a record single-day increase of cases with 453 newly-infected.

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