Coronavirus update, April 29, 2021: Over 3M vaccine doses given, number of hospitalized sees large drop

Over 100,000 people between 55 and 59 registered for vaccination on the first day of eligibility, vaccinations for people over 16 could start in July.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 29.04.2021 09:56 (updated on 29.04.2021)

Over 100,000 people between 55 and 59 register for Covid vaccination

More than 100,000 people aged 55 to 59 registered for the Covid-19 vaccination during their first day of eligibility, the Smart Quarantine project tweeted. There are roughly 653,000 people in this age group, 112,000 of whom are already fully vaccinated as priority members of selected professions or the chronically ill. According to Health Minister Petr Arenberger, the launch of registrations for an additional age group this week was necessary. "In some centers there was no one to vaccinate. People who are from lower age groups will certainly not overtake those who are already registered from higher priority groups," he said. Arenberger added that registration for anyone over the age of 16 interested in vaccinations could start at the beginning of July.

Govt. to decide today on reopening of schools in more districts, shops

In addition to the Hradec Králové, Karlovy Vary, and Plzeň regions, the return of children to kindergartens and the upper grades of primary schools will likely be possible from Monday in Prague, Central Bohemia, and the Liberec region, Health Minister Petr Arenberger said at the meeting of the House Committee on Health. The government will make a final decision today. Kindergartens would open without Covid testing or face coverings for children. In primary schools, grades six though nine would start on rotating basis. Grades one through five are already rotating. These districts should reach a weekly average below 100 new infections per 100,000 people. The current average for the whole of the Czech Republic is 146. In Prague, the number as of Wednesday was 116 per 100,000 inhabitants per week, in the Liberec region 136 and in the Central Bohemian region 138.

The government will also decide on Thursday whether they will be reopen more stores from Monday, May 3.

Corporate, school Covid tests to last at least till end of May

Corporate and school antigen testing for Covid-19 will remain mandatory at least until the end of May, and the Health Ministry wants to discuss its possible further extension until June, Health Minister Petr Arenberger said. The ministry wants to assess the further extension by May 7, he said. Possible ending of testing was discussed at the lower house Healthcare Committee as the supplier of antigen tests for schools was not chosen and consequently, schools will run out of tests in two weeks. Arenberger proposes that schools buy only the number of tests necessary to cover their need until the end of May. Simultaneously, the ministry wants to start with laboratory-treated PCR testing. However, this would have higher costs and more complicate logistics than antigen school testing, he added.

Sputnik V documentation insufficient for assessment

The State Office for Drug Control (SÚKL) has studied the materials for the Russian- made Sputnik V vaccine and submitted them to the government office with comments. Irena Storová, the director of the drug office, said the documents were not enough to assess the vaccine. The documentation on the Russian vaccine available to SÚKL contained dozens of pages, Storová said. Sputnik V has not yet received approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The use of Sputnik V even without European approval, with a possible exception from the Czech authorities, was promoted by President Miloš Zeman. He said on Sunday that he would work to deploy the Russian vaccine if there was a shortage of vaccines.

Senate approves bonus extension for quarantined, isolated people

A daily bonus of up to CZK 370 will be added to the sick pay of people in quarantine or isolation due to Covid or other infections until the end of June, according to a new government amendment approved by the Senate, the upper house of Czech parliament. President Miloš Zeman must next sign it into law. The current legislation applies to March and April. Those in quarantine or isolation as of March 1 who are on sick leave, receiving the sick pay amount of 0 percent of their base pay, are entitled to the daily bonus of up to CZK 370 a day during 14 days. The bonus varies according to an employees' wages; 90 percent of their average pay is the maximum bonus.

Arenberger: Opening football stadiums is a pilot project

The opening of football stadiums to one-tenth of their capacity is a pilot project and not a relaxation of rules, Health Minister Petr Arenberger. Similarly, the concerts of the Prague Spring festival received permission, he said. He responded to criticism that attending football took precedence, for example, over the return of some children to school. The permit is valid from the next league round for the first and second leagues. The hockey extra league also received a similar exception.

"The priorities are exactly the same all the time, the schools are number one. Here we are talking about pilot projects, which are based on the fact that these are important events where there is a very limited number of people," Arenberger said.

The football match can be attended by a maximum of 1,000 people or a tenth of the stadium's capacity. People should be a long-term supporter of the club, including season ticket holders. People must take a test and wear a respirator.

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Number of hospitalized lowest since mid-October

There were 2,483 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, 16 percent fewer than a week ago, according to Health Ministry data. The number of hospitalized people fell to 2,966. The last time it was below 3,000 was on Oct. 14, 2020. It peaked at 9,463 on March 15, 2021. The number of vaccine doses administered since the start of the year has crossed the 3 million mark to reach 3,008,953, with 980,327 people receiving both doses. The Czech Republic had 146 new Covid cases per 100,000 population in the past seven days. The reproduction number R has been oscillating close to 0.88 in the past four days. For 15 days, it has been below one, which means the epidemic has been subsiding in the country.

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (April 29, 2021)

  • New cases 2,483
  • Deaths 29,213
  • Currently hospitalized 2,966
  • PCR tests performed 6,732,826
  • Antigen tests performed 11,157,709
  • Reported vaccinations 3,008,953
  • PES index 51
  • R number 0.88