Coronavirus update, April 13, 2021: Czech govt. bans gatherings of more than two people

Practical lessons in secondary schools and universities delayed, Hamáček wants Czech Republic to secure Sputnik, R number returns to 1.0. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 13.04.2021 09:43:00 (updated on 13.04.2021) Reading time: 6 minutes

Govt. confirms ban on gatherings of more than two people

The Czech cabinet confirmed the Health Ministry's extraordinary measure from Saturday banning the gathering of more than two people, as epidemiologists fear a bigger lockdown relaxation might reverse the fragile positive trend of the Covid epidemic, Health Minister Petr Arenberger said. The government has to confirm every measure issued by the ministry based on the pandemic law in 48 hours from its issuance if it is to remain effective. Arenberger said the ministry tried to explain the reasons for the extraordinary measure adequately. In the past, courts canceled some of the ministry's measures over their insufficient explanation. Media cited some lawyers as saying that the ban on gathering goes counter to the constitution and cannot be imposed based on the pandemic law, but Arenberger said a consultation with lawyers has shown that the measure is in line with the law.

Practical lessons at secondary schools and colleges postponed

Education Minister Robert Plaga said the practical lessons at secondary schools, colleges, conservatories, and for universities' last year students will not restart next Monday, despite the cabinet's original plan. He said epidemiologists do not recommend the restart for now. The group of experts for epidemiological situations (MeSES) has said that the restart of these lessons should be postponed until April 26 at the earliest, after the recent lockdown relaxation's effect becomes known. Health Minister Petr Arenberger told journalists the return of students to practice lessons is a priority, but he would not say when it may happen.

Students can go to secondary schools in groups of six for consultations

Secondary school last graders and those threatened with study failure can start going for school for learning consultations in groups of six at the most as of April 19, Education Minister Robert Plaga tweeted after the cabinet meeting. As of yesterday, the same applies to the same groups of elementary school students, based on the cabinet's previous decision amid the favorable Covid-19 epidemiological development.

Six groups of two allowed at outdoor sports grounds

Up to six groups of two can be in one outdoor sports ground, provided that the groups are at least 10 meters from one another, Health Minister Petr Arenberger said after the cabinet meeting. "These 10 meters are the epidemiologic conditions guaranteeing that the players won’t get infected," he said. People doing sports do not have to wear face masks. They can go to sports grounds without having themselves tested for Covid-19. Arenberger, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and top representatives from the Czech sport environment agreed on Sunday night that doing sports outdoors will be permitted to 12-member groups divided in pairs.

Hamáček wants Czech Republic to secure Sputnik

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Jan Hamáček wants the Czech Republic to be prepared for an immediate purchase of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19 as soon as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approves it, he told reporters. However, Czechs should not get the vaccines that are not approved for use in the EU, he added. He also told reporters that he perceived the efforts by Germany, for instance, to pre-negotiate the purchase of the Sputnik vaccine.

"I am willing to travel to Moscow. The main thing is that the vaccine will be approved," he said.

According to Hamáček, at the moment Sputnik is approved, the Czech Republic must have a deal with the vaccine producers to to be able to compensate for the lacking supplies of other vaccines against Covid-19.

Havlíček: Hairdressers and pedicures should reopen first

Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlíček said the first services to reopen should be ones not available online, such as a hairdresser or pedicure. According to him, a new team of representatives of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, unions, and associations is currently working in cooperation with the Health Ministry of Health to prepare various scenarios for activities that could be considered for release. Health Minister Petr Arenberger said the decision will depend on the epidemic situation,and declined to give a possible date. Havlíček told CNN Prima News over the weekend that there should be two-week intervals between the individual dismantling steps so that the government can assess the effects of the previous loosening.

Czech Republic has most coronavirus deaths per capita

The number of victims of the coronavirus pandemic has exceeded 3 million worldwide, according to news agency Reuters. The United States has the absolute highest number of victims, followed by Brazil and Mexico. However, in terms of population, the Czech Republic is most affected, with over 28,000 Covid-related deaths or 259 victims per 100,000 inhabitants. They are followed by San Marino at 250 per 100,000, Hungary at 242, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, at 224. Neighboring Slovakia was in 10th place, with 198 per 100,000. The worst affected country in terms of the absolute number of infected and dead is the United States, with 31.2 million infected people, of whom 562,066 have died. In terms of casualties per capita, however, it is not among the worst, with 171 casualties per 100,000 inhabitants.

Covid vaccination ad campaign starts

The Czech government campaign promoting the vaccination against Covid-19 started last night with its first TV spots, aiming at getting 70 percent of the population registered for the vaccination. The Cesta ven (Way Out) group of PR agencies and experts behind the campaign was chosen by the government. The campaign's main motto is "Let's make a full stop behind the coronavirus," associating the end of the epidemic to the little red mark left after the injection. The Government Office has paid CZK 4.2 million excluding VAT for the campaign and the Health Ministry will buy media time and space worth CZK 50 million

"We have been all marked by the latest months in various ways. However, we all agree it is enough. Let's make a full stop behind the coronavirus," the main TV spot says.

According to a poll conducted by the Nielsen polling agency in March, 28 percent of people certainly want to get vaccinated, while 23 percent rather want to do so. In contrast, 16 percent people certainly do not want the vaccine, while 12 percent rather do not want it and 16 percent do not know.  

Govt. extends Covid III program to include investment loans

The government approved the extension of state-guaranteed loans to companies in the Covid III program with loans intended not only for operation but also for investments. The start of drawing investment loans can be expected around the beginning of May, Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlíček said after the cabinet meeting. The support will now cover investment loans up to CZK 90 million, depending on the size of the company and the maximum amount of guarantees.  

Govt. earmarks CZK 160 million to Coronavirus sequencing

The Czech cabinet approved a program to subsidize the sequencing of Covid-19 test samples to enable the uncover new coronavirus mutations, Health Minister Petr Arenberger said after the cabinet meeting. He said CZK 160 million has been earmarked to make the sequencing of about 4,800 samples a month possible. Through sequencing, laboratories will compare the virus' genetic information with the already known variants or possibly uncover new variants.

"It is a special process detecting an unknown part of the data information in the virus, which may warn us what something is happening here," Arenberger said.

Experts, from the Snow (Sníh) team, for example, have been since February emphasizing that the uncovering of new, more infectious mutations is crucial for the further tackling of the epidemic.

Covid-related deaths top 28,000, R number back over 1.0

The number of Covid-related deaths in the Czech Republic reached 28,038 since the epidemic began last March, the Health Ministry website reported today. There were 3,843 new confirmed cases of on Monday, which is the lowest workday number since Nov. 30, 2020. The latest 1,000 Covid fatalities occurred in 10 days, but the pace is slowing. Fewer than 100 fatalities a day occurred in the past four days. Previously, the last day below 100 was Dec. 20. In March, this figure was often above 200 per day. The reproduction number R hit 1.05 and rose above 1.00 for the first time since March 8. An R number above 1.0 means the epidemic is spreading exponentially.  

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (April 13, 2021)

  • New cases 3,843
  • Deaths 28,038
  • Currently hospitalized 5,348
  • PCR tests performed 6,461,987
  • Antigen tests performed 8,173,024
  • Reported vaccinations 2,148,474
  • PES index 60
  • R number 1.05
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