Coronavirus update, Feb. 18, 2021: Five Czech regions may soon have no free hospital beds

More than 10,000 new COVID infections were detected on Wednesday and new cases per 100,000 inhabitants are on the rise.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 18.02.2021 09:22 (updated on 18.02.2021)

The Health Ministry is bracing for the further deterioration of the epidemic situation in the Czech Republic and said it will consider putting medical students back to work in hospitals and may ask for aid from abroad as the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 continues to rise.

More than 10,000 new COVID infections were detected on Wednesday, according to the latest data from the Health Ministry. The number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the past two weeks is also on the rise.

Hospital-beds filling up across several regions

Five of 14 Czech regions, mainly in the western part of the country, may have no free beds at intensive care units by the end of Feb. due to the spread of the more contagious UK variant, Institute of Health Information and Statistics (UZIS) director Ladislav Dusek said during a meeting of the lower house committee yesterday.

The epidemic situation in the most afflicted regions is 2.5 times worse than in the rest of the country going by the relative number of newly infected persons, up to 2,600 per 100,000 inhabitants in the past 14 days.

In the last two weeks, 16,000 people over 65 became infected; roughly 5,000 of them will likely need hospital treatment.

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The reproduction (R) number is currently at 1.1; if the R number reaches 1.2, the critical care capacity of the hospitals in Prague, Central Bohemia, and the Hradec Kralove, Karlovy Vary, and Usti regions could be exhausted at the end of this month. The Liberec, Pardubice, and Plzen regions, could see a similar situation in March.

Dusek told the committee that the increased positivity rate of PCR tests (at 40 percent on Tuesday) in the Czech Republic also points to the worsening of the epidemic.

Experts say re-opening shops and schools could be risky

Dusek believes that coronavirus cases will rise if students return to school.

"Unfortunately, it seems there will not be much room for experimentation in the following weeks," he said, adding that since the beginning of the year, the infection is more frequently being detected in kindergartens and elementary schools, likely due to the spread of the British variant.

Despite the worsening epidemic situation, the government is getting ready to progressively reopen schools, with COVID testing for students. Pupils and students should start returning to schools in March. On Friday, the government will also address the possible opening of additional shops

On Wednesday, Minister of Health Jan Blatný said the solution to the COVID crisis is the "conscious approach of people," while Prime Minister Babiš said the opening of shops could be "part of a society-wide agreement." Their opponents say that Czech leaders seek to evade political responsibility and pass it on to people and that stronger leadership and better public health campaigns are the best solutions for controlling the spread.

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

The PES epidemic system's score is 75 points out of 100, the fourth-highest level, with the R number rising to 1.1 today. The drop in the share of the hospitalized patients under 45 percent took five points away, while the growth of the R number added three points which accounts for today's decreased score.

  • Active cases 108,527
  • New cases 10, 813
  • Deaths 18,739
  • Currently hospitalized 6,195
  • PCR tests performed 5,039,761
  • Antigen tests performed 2,193,856
  • Reported vaccinations 500,643