Coronavirus update, April 26, 2021: Vaccination may start for people over 55 on Wednesday

The govt. today will clarify its plan to open stores and some services on May 3, practical teaching starts in secondary schools and universities. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 26.04.2021 09:21:00 (updated on 26.04.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

Vaccination may start for people aged 55-59

People aged 55-59 might be able to start registering for vaccination against Covid-19 on Wednesday. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš on Twitter said he would propose this to the Government Council for Health Risks on Monday, Babiš tweeted. This is the group of 750,000 people, Babiš said, adding that as of next Monday, it will also be possible to be inoculated in a large-capacity center in the O2 universum in Prague. It will open on May 3. Health Minister Petr Arenberger said the vaccination may speed up as increased deliveries will allow administering 100,000 doses a day in a few weeks. On Friday, when registration opened for those aged 60-64, over 70,000 of them registered. In the Czech Republic, there are about 650,000 people in this age category.

Govt. will introduce rules for opening shops and services

The government today will present a hygiene regime in which the currently closed shops and some services should start operating from May 3. The outline of the reopening was introduced to the public on Thursday as a six package program. The government will discuss, for example, the rules for using tests. It must also announce by the end of April whether mandatory Covid testing in companies and offices will continue in June, or longer. Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlíček told ČTK that the matter would be discussed in the morning by the Government Council for Health Risks.

Secondary schools and universities begin practical teaching

Secondary school students and students of the last year of university are returning today to practical classes. The return to laboratories, workshops, or studios will involve about 130,000 young people. They will learn with mandatory respirators and testing for Covid-19. At the same time, 718 kindergartens will be completely opened in the Plzeň, Hradec Králové and Karlovy Vary regions, where the incidence of newly infected Covid-19 has dropped below 100 per 100,000 people over seven days. Face coverings and testing will not be mandatory there. The resumption of practical training has long been one of the priorities of the Education Ministry.

Arenberger: PCR tests in some schools could start in June

Testing of pupils by PCR test will be in some schools in June at the earliest. It will be introduced gradually, Health Minister of Health Petr Arenberger said on Czech Television. Now children are tested at school twice a week with an antigen test. The PCR test would be performed once a week.

"In June at the earliest, we could already have PCR tests in some schools, which will be regulated in some way. It depends on the capacity of the laboratories," said Arenberger.

He mentioned that in the Czech Republic it is now possible to find out the results of about 60,000 PCR tests a day. He said that some schools had already started PCR testing themselves. Some city districts or regions have announced that they will use PCR tests in their schools. The PCR test is more accurate and gentler, but also more expensive.

Indian mutation suspected in Hradec Králové

A suspected case of an Indian coronavirus mutation in the Czech Republic is being investigated by the State Institute of Health (SZÚ). The results are to be next week. Health Minister Petr Arenberger told the daily Právo that the Indian mutation appeared in Hradec Králové. Arenberger told Práva that a student from India could probably have brought the mutation to the Czech Republic. She was not ill herself, her Indian roommate fell ill. According to the minister, the disease did not spread because it is not taught in schools now. The two students are in solitary confinement, and other risk contacts in quarantine.

Zeman for Sputnik V only if there is shortage

President Miloš Zeman will only seek the application of the Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V if there is a shortage of vaccines, but otherwise not, he told the commercial television station Prima. Zeman recently demanded the dismissal of former health minister Jan Blatný and the director of the State Drug Control Institute (SÚKL) Irena Storová since they refused the Russian vaccine as it does not have approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

"On the one hand, we have a rather negative example, the Johnson & Johnson, which is delayed, and you also know the doubts about AstraZeneca. On the other, we have the promised vaccine Pfizer, with which, I was, by the way, inoculated without having chosen it. I will only seek [Sputnik] if there is a shortage of vaccines, otherwise not," Zeman said.

The Russian vaccine still does not have the EMA approval, on which Blatný insisted before Prime Minister Andrej Babiš dismissed him. Zeman named Petr Arenberger as his replacement. At the inauguration ceremony, Zeman said he hoped that Arenberger could not get annoyed by ideological hysteria in the case of the vaccines from Russia.  

Sunday's number of new Covid cases was the lowest in 32 weeks

Tests on Sunday confirmed 820 new cases of Covid-19. It was the lowest daily increase since Sept. 13, or in the last 32 weeks. Since the beginning of the epidemic last March, more than 29,000 people have died in the Czech Republic, in whom Covid has been proven. Last week, vaccination against Covid slowed slightly, according to Health Ministry data. On Sunday, medics in the Czech Republic applied 17,644 doses of Covid vaccination. Fewer than 344,300 doses were administered last week, 7.5 percent fewer than a week earlier. The reproduction number R rose from 0.83 to 0.88 on Sunday, its highest value in the last 11 days. However, it is still below 1.0, meaning the spread of the virus is slowing down. The PES indes was at 54 for fifth day in a row.

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (April 26, 2021)

  • New cases 820
  • Deaths 29,002
  • Currently hospitalized 3,098
  • PCR tests performed 6,673,505
  • Antigen tests performed 10,450,509
  • Reported vaccinations 2,822,491
  • PES index 54
  • R number 0.88
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