Coronavirus update, Feb. 2, 2021: Czech Republic changes travel rules, drops VAT on respirators

Respirators should become cheaper but still are not mandatory, another vaccine starts the EMA approval process.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 02.02.2021 09:50:00 (updated on 02.02.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

The PES anti-epidemic system’s COVID risk index remains at 73 points in the Czech Republic. All four indicators for its assessment have slightly improved, but the reproduction (R) number is still closely over 1.00, the Health Ministry's data released this morning show.

The index has been on the fourth alert degree since mid-January, but the valid anti-coronavirus measures in the country still correspond to the strictest, fifth degree.

Along with the reproduction number, expressing average number of the people infected from one positively tested person, the other three criteria for the PES score calculation are the average number of the infected per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days, the two-week average number of the infected seniors per 100,000 as well as the share of the hospitalized patients whose COVID-19 infection was proven in hospital only.

These three indicators have slightly dropped since Monday and even the R number has improved a bit, but it remains over 1.00. If it declines under this figure, it means that the epidemic is slowing down.

The rules for COVID-19 testing will change for people entering the Czech Republic as of Friday and a new category of very high risk countries will be created, Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said after a Monday’s cabinet meeting.

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People coming from the countries with very high risk will have to undergo a PCR test for coronavirus before they travel to the Czech Republic and go to quarantine after their arrival. If they undergo another test five or more days afterwards and it is negative again, they will be allowed to end their quarantine, but they will still have to wear an at least FFP2 respirator for five more days.

People from orange countries, with a medium risk, will have to undergo an antigen test not more than 48 hours before their arrival. Until now, this was mandatory only for long-term foreign workers but not for cross-border commuters.  See the full story here.

The Health Ministry has postponed making any changes in the PES system’s lockdown rules due to the occurrence of the more infectious British coronavirus mutation and the continuing overloading of Czech hospitals.

The planned changes had included, for example, raising the number of people at events if they had a negative COVID-19 antigen test.

The Czech cabinet approved a two-month suspension of value-added tax (VAT) on respirators of the FFP2 and higher category as of Wednesday, reacting to an appeal addressed to it by producers of respirators as an anti-COVID protective means, the Finance Ministry said.

Envisaging the suspension of the VAT previously, Finance Minister Alena Schillerová previously called on producers and sellers, mainly retail chains, to lower respirators' prices accordingly.

The government's lockdown-tightening package on Thursday did not contain the obligation to use respirators in most circumstances. It only recommended the use of respirators at risk places.

European Medicines Agency (EMA) started to assess the antibody therapy from the U.S. pharmaceutical firm Regeneron for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19, the Czech State Institute for Drug Control (SÚKL) writes today.

Last Thursday, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said the Czech Republic is interested in buying the Regeneron drug. Germany plans to use it as the first EU country.

The drug cannot be officially registered by any EU member country separately, but only by the European Commission based on the EMA stance.

The Czech Republic is to receive 335,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, 110,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 80,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in February, in total 525,000 doses of vaccines against coronavirus, Health Minister Jan Blatny (for ANO) said today.

Out of those vaccinated in February, 271,600 are to get their first dose, while the rest will be people who will be receiving the second of the two doses.

Latest COVID-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Feb. 2, 2021)

  • Active cases 92,690
  • New cases 7,117
  • Deaths 16,545
  • Currently hospitalized 5,854
  • PCR tests performed 4,624,194
  • Antigen tests performed 1,620,095
  • Reported vaccinations 280,066
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