Coronavirus update, Aug. 18, 2021: Third vaccine shot likely for 'select groups,' says Czech health minister

Plus: State Institute of Public Health detects unknown Covid strain; Prague shows slight improvement but remains the worst region for Covid cases.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 18.08.2021 09:52:00 (updated on 18.08.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

Vojtěch: Some people will get third vaccination dose

Selected groups should be getting a third dose of anti-Covid vaccine, according to Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch. However, it was not yet clear exactly who it would be for and when these people will be vaccinated. Vojtěch said that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will discuss the matter next week, and the Health Ministry will likely follow the EMA guidance.

"I think the third dose will be applied to selected groups. I do not want to give a definitive opinion on for whom and when, but it is likely that this will happen in the foreseeable future," Vojtěch said.

He added that he is following the international debate on the topics and opinions from reputable institutions, but that there is no consensus yet. However, he indicated that the third dose was talked about in connection with elderly people and clients in social services.

The deadline for schools opting for PCR tests is this afternoon

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Schools that want to test their students at the beginning of the school year with more accurate PCR tests can apply until this afternoon. They must report this through the website of the Ministry of Education for data collection. They will have to secure the tests themselves, just like before the holidays, but they will be able to get a contribution of CZK 200 per test. The government has set aside up to CZK 237 million for testing pupils, of which CZK 210 million for antigen and CZK 27 million for PCR tests. Expenditures of schools for testing will first be covered from the budget of the Education Ministry, then it will be possible to apply for reimbursement from the EU Solidarity Fund. Education Minister Robert Plaga said on Tuesday that so far more than 150 schools have signed up for PCR tests. Other schools will receive antigen test kits from the state, which were purchased by the State Material Reserves Administration on the basis of a tender.

Manual with Covid rules sent to schools

All children and school employees will have to get tested for Covid in early September, except for those who are fully vaccinated or underwent Covid-19 in the past 180 days. School children who will not get tested for Covid-19 or prove being safe from the infection in another way at the beginning of the school year temporarily will not be allowed to attend physical education indoors and sing at school, a Health Ministry manual sent to schools stated. Such children will have to wear face masks all the time at school and should keep distance from others, also when eating and drinking. These special rules will be applied until the end of the extraordinary testing at schools, that is until Sept. 10, Heath Minister Adam Vojtěch and Roberta Plaga said at a press conference. See our full story here.

Principals react to new Covid rules

Some school officials cannot imagine the exclusion of children not tested for Covid-19 from the team. They also consider monitoring face coverings in untested pupils to be unrealistic. This follows from a ČTK survey among school principals made in response to the new Education Ministry manual presented yesterday. Principals questioned how the children would be separated, or if they will need to be marked. Others though, pointed out that very few students refused to be tested in the previous year so they didn’t see any major problems. Also, most of the content of the manual is at the level of recommendations. Some schools are concerned about the legal aspects of ministry regulations, as courts overturned many previous anti-Covid regulations.

SZÚ detects eight samples of an unknown Covid strain

The State Institute of Public Health (SZÚ) reported several cases of positive coronavirus samples that do not correspond to any known and monitored variant, according to Seznamzpravy.cz.

"We record a total of eight samples from discriminant PCR that could correspond to the as yet undetermined Covid-19 line. These findings come from different laboratories, not from one place,” SZÚ director Barbora Macková said.

The samples do not resemble any of the monitored lines after discriminatory PCR, she added. A list of monitored virus variants is issued to laboratories and regularly updated by the World Health Organization (WHO). According to the SZÚ, the new lines of the virus show the importance of following hygiene rules while traveling and strict compliance with quarantine rules. The SZÚ is also waiting got confirmation of suspicions of Delta plus variants in 20 cases.

Prague shows slight improvement but remains worst in the country

The number of new Covid cases continues to increase, with 294 reported for Tuesday, the highest daily increase since July 20. Last Tuesday, there were 260 new cases. The incidence number of new cases per 100,000 over seven days rose to 13, up one from the previous day. The number of people hospitalized fell to 56 from 59, with 16 in serious condition, up one from the previous day. No deaths were reported for Aug. 17, but two were added retroactively for Aug. 16, bringing the August total to 11. The reproduction number R rose slightly to 1.06, and has been over 1.0 for 11 days. The PES number rose to 40 from a revised 38 the day before. For Prague, the incidence number was 28, down from a revised 31 a day earlier, and the R number was 1.03, down from a revised 1.19.

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Aug. 18, 2021)

  • New cases 294
  • Deaths 30,378
  • Currently hospitalized 56
  • PCR tests performed 9,623,753
  • Antigen tests performed 25,163,134
  • Total vaccinations 11,044,025
  • Daily increase in vaccinations 33,061
  • People who have completed vaccination 5,380,769
  • New cases per 100,000 in seven days 13
  • PES index 40
  • R number 1.06
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