Coronavirus update, Sept. 17, 2021: Prague mayor calls for return of testing in schools

Plus: Health minister says widespread healthcare reform needed, MEPs to debate antibodies, Thursday is third day with more than 500 new cases. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 17.09.2021 09:58:00 (updated on 17.09.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

Prague mayor calls for return of testing in schools

Prague mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates), called on Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) to renew mandatory testing in schools and the state contribution to schools for tests in light of the recent growth in the number of Covid infections. Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch (ANO) stated on Wednesday that, with regard to the results of testing at the beginning of September, the ministry has no plans to continue with comprehensive screening in schools but that he is considering repeating blanket testing this autumn.

Czech health minister calls for widespread healthcare reform

Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch (ANO) called for the reform of public health bodies at the opening of the Health Care 2022 conference Thursday. He said healthcare reform must be a priority of the next government, suggesting a new institution that follows the example of the German Robert Koch Institute as well as for increased funding. He said reforms should centralize the management of public health offices and better coordination of all components of the system in crisis situations. Vojtěch went on to say that the pandemic proved the absolute necessity of digitization in healthcare.

Prague has vaccinated hundreds of homeless people

Field workers and their mobile vaccination unit have distributed the single-dose Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine to some 300 homeless people in Prague and further homeless people have been inoculated in asylum centers, a Prague City Hall spokesman told ČTK. The mobile vaccination program began on July 13. It is operated by Prague City Hall in cooperation with physicians and NGOs, such as the Salvation Army and the Czech Red Cross. An estimated 4,000 people, many of them foreigners, live on the streets of Prague.

We managed to reach those whose life on the street makes them much more prone to the infection," said Prague councilor Milena Johnová (Praha Sobě). "Vaccinating the homeless reinforces the protection of healthcare professionals and field workers who care for them, as well as of the public."

MEPs to discuss recognition of antibodies

The recognition of antibodies in the context of social immunity will be discussed by Czech lawmakers on Friday. The recognition of antibodies as proof of infectivity is supported by the opposition as well as Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO). The Ministry of Health is still against recognizing antibodies as proof of non-infectivity. Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch has previously stated that he will listen to the opinions of experts who also disagree on the topic before deciding.

Covid leads to decline of preventive check-ups in Czech Republic

The number of preventive check-ups in GPs' offices fell by almost one-sixth due to the Covid pandemic last year in the case of adult Czechs, but remained unchanged in the case of children, a representative of the Health Information and Statistics Institute told the Healthcare 2022 conference today. Experts say missed preventive checks will be a long-lasting consequence of the epidemic for the Czech health sector to tackle.

Czech president announces voting dates for quarantined voters

Czech president Zeman has announced voting dates for the Oct. parliamentary elections for quarantined voters, who can cast their ballot at polling stations on Wednesday, Oct. 6. In residential facilities, such as homes for the elderly, elections will be held one day later on Thursday, Oct. 7. The voting date for the general election is Oct. 8-9. People may vote despite precautionary quarantine due to a special law adopted over the summer. Similar rules for quarantined voters applied last year during elections for regional assemblies and for one-third of the Senate.

Audit finds major shortcomings in process of issuing extraordinary measures

Conflicts between the Health Ministry and courts appear to be over. An internal audit of the ministry found several errors. Many restrictions put forward by the ministry were later overturned by courts for not having a proper legal basis. Health Minister Adam Vojtěch will cut salaries for the subordinates responsible for the problems, but nobody will be fired. Every new coronavirus measure will be reviewed by the legislative council of the government, Czech Radio reported.

Thursday is the third day in a row with more than 500 new Covid cases

According to the latest data published by the Ministry of Health, 550 more cases of Covid-19 were detected on Thursday, 130 more than a week ago. Thursday was the third day in a row when the increase exceeded 500 cases. There are 158 patients in hospitals, 40 of whom are in serious condition. 

The R number is currently 1.13 (incidence per 100,000 is 28). Covid is spreading most rapidly in Prague, which has an average of 45 new cases per 100,000 population in the past seven days. Since the epidemic outbreak, coronavirus infection has been confirmed in more than 1.68 million people, out of whom 30,427 died.

Fourteen Covid-related deaths have occurred since the beginning of September, nearly as many as the total figure for July. Data shows that fewer and fewer people are interested in getting vaccinated.

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Sept. 17, 2021)

  • New cases 550
  • Deaths 30,427
  • Currently hospitalized 158
  • PCR tests performed 10,487,402
  • Antigen tests performed 26 730 396
  • Total vaccinations 11,686,557
  • Daily increase in vaccinations 10,766
  • People who have completed vaccination 5,878,580
  • New cases per 100,000 in seven days 28
  • PES index 48
  • R number 1.13
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