Another four COVID-19 cases revealed among contacts of Czech government officials

The Czech Republic's Health Minister, Labor Minister, Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister are all in preventative quarantine


Written by ČTK Published on 04.09.2020 07:55:21 (updated on 04.09.2020) Reading time: 3 minutes

Prague, Sept 3 (CTK) – Prague public health officers revealed another four COVID-19-positive cases when checking out contacts of the infected cases at the Health Ministry in Prague, public health center spokesperson Zbyněk Boublík said in a press release today.

So far, public health officers have evaluated 157 contacts who are ordered quarantine or sent for testing.

On Wednesday, Chief Public Health Officer Jarmila Rážová tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Due to this, Health Minister Adam Vojtěch (for ANO) started quarantine, though he tested negative.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) had a meeting with Rážová on Tuesday, but public health officers decided on Wednesday that he and other Government Office members did not have to be in quarantine. Babiš said they were far enough from Rážová in an aired room with a high ceiling.

Three other cabinet members are in quarantine: Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlíček (for ANO), Labour Minister Jana Maláčová and Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (both Social Democrats, CSSD).

Boublík said the relevant bodies have recorded another four COVID-19-positive persons, but their names are not disclosed due to data protection.

“Routine inspection was started in order to trace the maximum possible epidemiologically important contacts,” he added.

On Wednesday, Vojtěch told Czech Television (CT) that COVID-19 infection had been confirmed in Institute of Health Information and Statistics (UZIS) director Ladislav Dušek.

Health officers said they have evaluated 157 “epidemiologically serious contacts” so far.

“From the provisional total number, there are 125 people from the environment of the checked workplace, 23 people from mass media, seven further work contacts, and two contacts from the private environment,” they added.

The Prague public health center warned that epidemiological investigation was a continual process.

“In the given concrete case, it started on Wednesday in early morning hours and it is still going on,” Boublík said.

Many people were tested on Wednesday, others were on Thursday. The information will be updated on Friday morning, he added.

The public health center is in a close contact with the state secretary section and other Health Ministry bodies, Boublík said.

Thanks to this, the employees of the office are being informed about the situation and organisational measures, he added.

“An adequate cluster disinfection of the defined areas was conducted on the workplace. The use of airways protection was ordered there,” Boublík said.

Deputy PM Havlíček has been working from his home since Tuesday because he met a positive person at the Industry and Trade Ministry, which he heads, although he tested negative for coronavirus. He will undergo another test on Sunday. Babiš said Havlíček talked to the infected person without face masks for 20 minutes.

Both Maláčová and Petříček said on Twitter today that they had no COVID-19 symptoms.

“I just found out I was in close contact with a person that met somebody who tested positive for coronavirus. It is rather unlikely that I am infected, I have no symptoms, but I cancelled my schedule anyway and will work home until it is certain that I am OK,” Maláčová tweeted.

“As several positive cases were revealed at the Foreign Ministy, I decided to go to preventative home isolation,” Petříček said. “I have no symptoms, but I don’t want to threaten other people,” he added.

Also several clerks of the Finance Ministry are in quarantine, including deputy minister Lenka Dupáková, because they had contact with an employee infected with COVID-19. “All of them will undergo tests,” Finance Minister Alena Schillerová (for ANO) said today.

She said the positive person is an employee of the ministry who works at the permanent representation in Brussels and who met a number of other employees a week ago.

The first cabinet member who was in quarantine was Culture Minister Lubomír Zaorálek (CSSD) in early July. In late August, MP and former regional development minister Karla Šlechtová (for ANO) tested positive and was isolated, and 13 other MPs were sent to quarantine.

The first Czech senior politician to catch COVID-19 was Plzeň Region governor Josef Bernard (then CSSD, now for STAN) in early April.

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