Croatia has experienced a series of aftershocks a day after a strong earthquake caused widespread damage and injured at least 27 people amid a partial coronavirus lockdown of the capital.

Seismologists said at least 38 weaker tremors were felt in Zagreb since a 5.5 magnitude quake struck the capital on Sunday, triggering panic, the evacuation of hospitals and structural damage, including to the city’s famous cathedral and other historic buildings.

The strongest aftershock was around noon on Monday, measuring 3.7. It sent some people rushing out of their homes into public parks despite earlier warnings from authorities against large gatherings in public areas to avoid the spread of Covid-19.

Interior minister Davor Bozinovic said that 27 people were injured, including 18 seriously. Some 250 houses were damaged and 59 people had to be housed in temporary shelters after the quake on Sunday.

He also announced new restrictive measures intended to combat the spread of the virus, including a ban on people leaving their homes except to buy food and medicine, seeking medical attention or going to work.

“We are fighting two crises at the same time,” Mr Bozinovic said. “One is against the coronavirus and the other is against the consequences of the earthquake.”

The European seismological agency EMSC said the earthquake struck a wide area north of Zagreb.

The epicentre was four miles north of Zagreb at a depth of six miles.

One of the damaged spires, left, of Zagreb’s famous cathedral Credit: Darko Bandic/AP

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said the earthquake was the biggest in Zagreb in the last 140 years.

Many buildings cracked and walls and rooftops were damaged. Streets were littered with debris. Concrete slabs fell on cars and chimneys landed in front of entrances.