Coronavirus update, Aug. 23, 2021: Zeman supports mandatory vaccination if there's a new Covid wave

Plus: Entry rules change for some vaccinated third-country people including Brits, R numbers falls under 1.0, Vojtěch criticizes lack of masks at festival.

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Written by Expats.cz
Published on 23.08.2021 09:55 (updated on 23.08.2021)

Zeman: Vaccination may be obligatory if new Covid wave comes

Czech President Miloš Zeman would support compulsory vaccination should another wave of the coronavirus pandemic arise but said making vaccination obligatory isn’t necessary currently. The president made these remarks in his weekly interview for Czech tabloid Blesk. To the complicated question of obligatory vaccination, he said there is no clear answer, adding that it’s necessary to appeal to people to undergo vaccination. Zeman revealed that he would be re-vaccinated next spring. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) said in July that coronavirus vaccination would not be obligatory under the present government.

Entry rules change for Brits and other vaccinated non-EU nationals

From today, the Czech Republic will begin to recognize vaccine certificates from certain countries outside the European Union. Inoculations must have been performed with a Covid vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use. This was announced last week after the Monday government meeting by Health Minister Adam Vojtěch. The rule applies to, for example, visitors from the UK who can now come for other than essential reasons, including tourism.

"From 23 August, if you have been fully vaccinated under the UK government’s vaccination programme at least 14 days prior to travel, you are able to enter the Czech Republic for any reason, including tourism, without needing to isolate or take a pre-departure PCR test," the website Gov.UK states in its travel section.

The U.S. is not included on the new list, however. Also new, foreigners who are members of a family of Czech citizens or other EU nationals can arrive and can apply for visas. The full text of the new rules on the Czech Interior Ministry website.

Czech travel rules to tighten people returning from for Israel and U.S.

Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and the U.S. have switched from the low Covid risk green group to the very high-risk dark red group on the Czech Republic's updated traveler's map as of today, and conditions for arrivals' from these states will toughen, the Health Ministry announced. The red category of countries with a high infection risk will newly include Bulgaria, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Spain except for the Balearic Islands, and Switzerland. People arriving from red or dark red countries, who do not have vaccination or recovery, by public transport have to undergo a test before entering the Czech Republic. Once in the Czech Republic, too, they have to undergo a PCR test between the fifth and 14th day after return and have to stay in isolation pending the test result. See our full story here.

Education Minister, STAN head support testing at schools

Education Minister Robert Plaga and Mayors and Independents (opposition STAN) chairman Vít Rakušan in a CNN Prima News television discussion program jointly called on parents to let their children undergo coronavirus tests when they start attending school again. They both pointed out that the tests are non-invasive. The planned restrictions for children who would not be tested were unpleasant but they make sense, Plaga said. He said Czech society should not be too optimistic concerning the autumn situation at schools and possible complications connected with another wave of the pandemic.

"We should be careful. I call on everybody not to downplay it," Plaga said.

He added that last summer it also seemed that there would not be Covid-19 anymore, but the infection spread very fast in the autumn. When asked whether there is a plan for possible repeated closing of schools, Plaga said the scenario of further development would depend on the results of the screening in September.

Vojtěch, epidemiologists point out lack of respirators at KV festival opening

Health Minister Adam Vojtěch expressed regret that most people did not have a respirator during the opening screening of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the large hall of the Thermal Hotel. He and his wife said he had it. The incident should be dealt with by the regional hygiene station, he told reporters. Epidemiologist Rastislav Maďar also pointed out the absence of respiratory protection among the guests of the opening ceremony on Twitter. According to Vojtěch , many people did not have respiratory protection. "On the one hand, however, it is everyone's responsibility to approach it," he said.

"Maybe for the first, opening screening it wasn't entirely ideal, but then I took part in standard film screenings, I was on about two or three films and I must say that practically everyone wore a respirator during the performance," Vojtěch added.

The organizers of the festival stated that before and during the opening evening, the guests and visitors were warned about the condition of using respirators or a nostril of the hostess and printed information. Respiratory protection was available in the lobby.

Vojtěch promotes vaccination at film festival

Health Minister Adam Vojtěch encouraged film festival goers to get vaccinated. A walk-in center is operating at the Thermal Hotel in Karlovy Vary. “Every vaccination site makes sense. The KVIFF one works without registration. Just walk to the Thermal Hotel and the rest will be taken care of by great local staff. They are here every day from noon to 8 pm,” he said on Twitter.

R numbers drops back under 1.0

The number of new Covid cases for Sunday was at 107, up from 76 a week earlier. The number of hospitalized people rose by one to 52, but the number of serious cases remained at eight. The incidence number of new cases per 100,000 over the past seven days stayed steady at 12. The reproduction number R was at 0.96, down from 0.97 the previous day. This means the pandemic is no longer expanding exponentially. It has been below the break even point of 1.0 for two days in a row, after having been above 1.0 for two weeks. For Prague, where the pandemic is worst, the incidence number was 28, up from 27 the previous day. The R number was at 0.98.

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Aug. 23, 2021)

  • New cases 107
  • Deaths 30,385
  • Currently hospitalized 52
  • PCR tests performed 9,785,858
  • Antigen tests performed 25,478,014
  • Total vaccinations 11,214,816
  • Daily increase in vaccinations 12,786
  • People who have completed vaccination 5,523,548
  • New cases per 100,000 in seven days 12
  • PES index 35
  • R number 0.96
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