Concerns grow over Croatia's safe status as WHO warns Balkans is coronavirus 'hotspot'

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Croatia is a popular beach holiday destination for Brits. Credit: Oliver Sjöström/Pexels

There are growing concerns that Croatia is about to be added to the UK's quarantine list, with a government source suggesting to ITV News that the number of coronavirus cases there are rising.

Government sources would not confirm or deny whether Croatia would be the next country added to the quarantine list, but when asked, one source said: "The numbers are all in public."

Earlier the WHO warned the Balkan region is a "hotspot" for coronavirus.

Political Correspondent Paul Brand said anyone planning to book a trip to Croatia should "standby".

Croatia is among the few remaining European holiday destinations which are currently considered safe, however cases there are rising and nations on the continent have already warned about the risks of travelling there.

The WHO warning that the Balkans has "been very much a sub-regional hotspot over the summer period" will strike fear into Brits hoping for a summer holiday abroad this year.

After relaxing lockdown at the end of June, the UK government published a list of countries with coronavirus rates low enough for them to be considered safe holiday destinations.

The government has repeatedly warned it is prepared to "rapidly" remove countries from that list, meaning any returnees will be subject to a 14-day period of self-isolation.

The safe list has slowly been getting smaller as countries around the world relaxed their coronavirus restrictions.

Split Dalmatia has been identified as risk area by Germany (photo of Hvar Island). Credit: Marcus Löfvenberg/Unsplash

Popular holiday destinations such as Spain, the Bahamas and most recently France, Holland, Monaco and Malta have had their safe status removed.

It has left Croatia and Greece as two of the few remaining European beach holiday destinations but the government has refused to deny they will both be added to the quarantine list.

Germany’s disease control agency has classified the Croatian regions of Sibenik-Knin and Split Dalmatia as risk areas.

It comes after Austria issued a travel warning for Croatia, which led to a mass exodus of Austrian holidaymakers.

On the Balkans, Dr Catherine Smallwood told a WHO press conference that the region has been a "concern of ours since early June when we started to see cases increase".

She said Balkan countries - which include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia - should act "very quickly, to nip transmission in the bud".

"Where there are hotspots and increased transmission, additional, targeted measures need to be brought in place," she said.