Coronavirus update, April 1, 2021: Blatný says Easter behavior could impact re-opening of schools

March sees record number of Covid-related deaths, court scraps Covid test for Czechs returning from abroad, 40 percent of Czechs over 70 now vaccinated. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 01.04.2021 09:36:00 (updated on 01.04.2021) Reading time: 5 minutes

Blatný: People's behavior at Easter can affect the opening of schools

According to Health Minister Jan Blatný, if people "break out of the chain" at Easter and do not follow anti-epidemic measures, there is a risk that schools will open on April 12 for only a week before the Covid-19 epidemic worsens. He said this at a meeting of the House Health Committee in response to violations of anti-epidemic measures with the arrival of sunny weather, when people went to parks and other public places, some did not keep their distance and did not have respirators. At Prague’s Náplavka embankments police had to drive people out on Monday evening. Police officers intervened similarly elsewhere in Prague, and the patrol will be present permanently on the embankment in nice weather.

Police to run regular checks over Easter

During the Easter holiday, the police will run checks as during regular weekends, Police President Jan Švejdar said. The situation will depend on the weather, he added, referring to people spending more time outdoors in the current sunny weather and to series of photos showing bunches of people gathering especially in green and leisure areas. Interior Minister Jan Hamáček added that the weather is not an issue, because what matters is that people gather and do not have their mouth and nose covered. Svejdar said the police carried out between some 100,000 up to 120,000 checks a day when the current measures were newly introduced, but now, it is about 90,000 to 100,000 checks.

Court scraps Covid test for Czechs returning from abroad

The Prague Municipal Court canceled as unlawful the Health Ministry's requirement for a negative Covid-19 test from Czech citizens before their return home from abroad. The verdict takes effect April 5. Since March 15, the Health Ministry has made people's return from very-high, high and moderate infection risk countries conditional on their producing a negative coronavirus test certificate. Court panel head Aleš Sabol said the court does not want to play down the risks linked to the spread of Covid-19 or the government's effort to protect people's lives and health.

"However, not even in the light of these values it is possible to give up the basic principles of the rule of law and restrict Czech citizens' right to free return to their homeland without the restriction being absolutely necessary," Sabol said.

He said the ministry did not explain whether the given effect can be achieved by the use of milder instruments, mainly by restrictions applied to Czech citizens only after their entry into the Czech Republic.

No threat of complications with Covid test deliveries for schools

State Material Reserves Administration (SSHR) head Pavel Švagr assured the Central Crisis Staff (ÚKS) that there was no threat of complications with the purchase of tests for schools, Deputy PM, Interior Minister and UKS chairman Jan Hamáček said after the staff meeting. A total of 1.5 Covid-19 tests for shools out of the commissioned five million were delivered to the SSHR storage facilities on Wednesday.

"The supplier firm assured us that the supplies should arrive as planned," Hamáček said.

Some Covid tests for school children are in the reserves from the first wave of the purchase. Hamáček reacted to the information by Czech Radio station Radiožurnál, reporting that the Chinese company Singclean had refused to send part of the supply of the 5 million Covid-19 tests for schools to the Czech Masanta firm, which won the state tender for the delivery of millions of antigen tests for Covid-19 for Czech schools, put up by the SSHR, in which 47 firms had participated.

Expert group recommends maximum use of antibody drugs

The Interdisciplinary Group for Epidemic Situations (MeSES) recommends maximizing the use of monoclonal antibody drugs in those infected with a new type of coronavirus. The higher price of the drug is offset by a reduction in the cost of hospitalization, the group said. So far, several thousand doses of bamlanivimab from Eli Lilly and a combination of casirivimab and imdevimab from Regeneron these drugs have been delivered to the Czech Republic.

"The data show that these drugs are very likely to be clinically effective in appropriately selected patients, but unfortunately there is still a growing awareness that they are only available to a select few," epidemiologist Petr Smejkal said.

The condition is the administration of the experimental drug no later than seven days after the onset of symptoms and three days after a positive test.  

Health facilities to get new compensation for revenue gap

Czech medical facilities will get compensation from health insurers for their loss of revenues caused by the Covid crisis this year, like in 2020, based on the government proposal the Senate passed in a sped-up procedure today, which still needs President Miloš Zeman's signature. The bill gives a green light to the Health Ministry to issue the relevant compensation directive and binds health insurers to compensate the costs for healthcare providers. Since late 2020, in face of the second wave of coronavirus, hospitals once again had to suspend elective care. According to an April report, this causes them to lose a total of CZK 3.2 billion a month.

Hamáček to propose bonus for policemen, firefighters

Interior Minister Jan Hamáček will propose that the government approve a one-off bonus of some CZK 20,000 for police members and firefighters over their help to curb Covid-19, Hamáček told reporters after a meeting of the Central Crisis Staff (ÚKS). If the Interior and Defense Ministries agree, customs officers and soldiers would be also eligible for the bonus, Hamáček added. He thanked a lot to the police, soldiers, customs officers and firefighters for their work and deems the proposed bonus a minimal way to thank them.

"They deserve it and I believe I will get support for it in the government, too," he said.

In early March, the cabinet approved a bonus for healthcare professionals.

40 percent of Czechs aged over 70 vaccinated

Some 40 percent of people aged over 70 and 65 percent of people over 80 have received at least one dose of the vaccine against Covid-19 in the Czech Republic, Health Minister Jan Blatný (for ANO) said at a meeting of the lower house healthcare committee. About 11 percent of the Czech population received at least one dose of the vaccine and 4.5 percent received both doses. Roughly 1.3 million people have registered for the vaccination and 476,000 of them want to be inoculated by their general practitioner.  

March sees record number of Covid-related deaths

There were 5,779 Covid-related deaths in March, 800 more than in the last previous record month of November. The total coronavirus death toll in the Czech Republic is 26,586, according to the data the Health Ministry released today. On Wednesday, laboratories uncovered 7,208 new cases of the novel coronavirus infection. A week ago, there were roughly 1,600 more cases. The fall in the number of the hospitalized is much slower. The PES index dropped to 55, its lowest level since the start of October 2020, though calculation criteria has changed since then. The reproduction number R rose slightly to 0.86.

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (April 1, 2021)

  • New cases 7,208
  • Deaths 26,586
  • Currently hospitalized 7,298
  • PCR tests performed 6,262,757
  • Antigen tests performed 6,447,177
  • Reported vaccinations 1,705,689
  • PES index 55
  • R number 0.86
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