The round table "COVID 19 - Where are we today?"

Where are we today, participants of the round table organized by the University of Split, held on Tuesday, November 24, in the "Don Frane Bulić" hall of the University Library, on the topic of COVID 19, the infectious disease which has determined our daily lives for more than six months now and is an unavoidable topic.

As a conclusion, a strong message was sent from the round table concerning the security that our state and its health care system generate. Optimism was expressed, as well as trust that the croatian health care system will successfully protect its citizens, together  with the fact that we also have to help ourselves, adhering to all the rules, with the message: stay responsible, keep your distance and wear protective masks.
Participants of the round table were: prof. Dragan Ljutić Ph.D., Rector of the University of Split, Vice-Rector prof. Đurđica Miletić, Ph.D., Ante Tonkić Ph.D., Dean of the University of Split, prof. Ozren Polašek Ph.D., Head of the Department of Public Health at the Faculty of Medicine and a member of the Scientific Council of the Croatian Government, Prim. Željka Karin Ph.D., Director of the Teaching Institute for Public Health of the Split-Dalmatia County, Assoc. Prof. Anamarija Jurčev Savičević Ph.D., from the same Institute, prof. Julije Meštrović Ph.D., Director of the Clinical Hospital Centre Split, prof. prim. Ivo Ivić Ph.D., Head of the Clinic for Infectious Diseases, prof. prim. dr. sc. Marija Tonkić, Head of the Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, prof. prim. Nenad Karanović Ph.D., Head of the Clinic for Anesthesiology, Resuscitation and Intensive Care, all from the University Hospital Centre Split, Academician Miroslav Radman, from the Mediterranean Institute for Life Research, prof. Dragan Primorac Ph.D., member of the Scientific Council of the Croatian Government.

- We have been facing the COVID 19 virus for some time now, and have been since February actively finding out more about and fighting this viral disease. My intention was to hear at this round table from people directly involved in diagnostics and treatment of patients with COVID-19, as well as in organizing our health service. During March we had the opportunity to see on television what was happening in Italy, but I think here we can avoid that with good discipline. Our system is a powerful one and we have the know-how. We welcome all suggestions, but it must be clear that the situation we have in Split, and thus in our country today, is at a high level. Our State Headquarters works actively and successfully all this time. Great job to fellow doctors, nurses, technicians and our hospitals' entire staff, well done to our epidemiologists. The Croats are characteristic for believing they all understand professional things better than the experts. Listening to information about the situation on the ground every day, in a way we also become epidemiologists. However, if we do not adhere to the measures ourselves, if we are not practising self-discipline, no measures can help us - said prof. Dragan Ljutić Ph.D., Rector of the University of Split.

He resolutely rejected the remark that politics in a certain way dictates the profession, although it should be the other way around, and continued:
- I think that politics does not dictate anything and that the profession is absolutely listened to. I urge everyone to keep your distance, wear protective masks and disinfect your hands. My intention is for our University, which is the best, to show by example how to be responsible in the style of „actions, not words“. This is our University, let us do our best! That is why I invited all colleagues who live and work in Split and are directly involved in the problem the infection poses to say what they are facing, what is their everyday like and to answer some questions. All suggestions are welcome, but I don’t want to frighten people. There is no place for that. Pope John Paul II said, "Do not be afraid!" And there is nothing to fear! This is a virus, we know how it behaves, we know which groups are endangered and that we need to take special care of them, we know what to expect and what is the way out.

Roundtable participants shared their views on the situation and contributed valuable experiences. Vice-rector prof. Đurđica Miletić Ph.D. pointed out that with good organization, education and prevention th situation can be kept under control, and the education system function, while prof. Ante Tonkić Ph.D., the School of Medicine's Dean commended his students who wew helping the epidemiologists and general practiotioners in getting hold of contacts with people who are COVID positive.

- Due to the effective system of protection against coronavirus at the University, Split has not been labeled a problematic city - said prof. Ozren Polašek Ph.D., Head of the Department of Public Health at the Faculty of Medicine and a member of the Scientific Council of Croatian Government and continued:
- If the vaccine were 95 percent effective, and 70 percent of population got vaccinated, then that ould be a done deal. However, a lot depends on whether people will agree to get vaccinated.

Željka Karin, director of the Teaching Institute for Public Health, said that our county is the largest in terms of space with a border of over 100 km with Bosnia and Herzegovina and that this position influenced the spread of the epidemic. Of the total number of patients in our county, one third is asymptomatic, and at the national level, of the total number of performed tests, 13 percent are positive.
Julije Meštrović, director of KBC Split, pointed out that majority of hospitalized patients, got-caught the infection outside of it, which is a good and important fact and the best proof that everyone in the Split hospital adheres to sanitary and epidemiological measures, while the number of infected staff is negligible.

Prof. prim. Ivo Ivić Ph.D., head of the Clinic for Infectious Diseases, University Hospital Center Split, stressed the fact that oxygen is the most important treatment in the fight against COVID-19. The knowledge about the new disease is still not advanced enough, so the fight waged against it is with basic anti-epidemic measures, but is still very effective. Until we discover more effective treatments against COVID-19, corticosteroids are the best, because anti-inflammatory therapy is the only one that somewhat helps and alleviates the intensity of inflammation.

From self-isolation in his home, prof. Dragan Primorac Ph.D. told to stick to the only weapon we have against the coronavirus so far, and that is discipline and respecting the measures.

Rector Ljutić gave the final word and in a certain way rounded up this big and important scientific gathering:
- The conclusion is really simple: we should be responsible and practice self-discipline. Prof. Jurčev-Savičević pointed out how we always expect from someone else, in this case the state, to do something for us, and never ask ourselves what are we doing for our state? It has become clear that our state's, county's and city's healthcare system is strong enough to face all challenges, including this menace, called the COVID-19.