Coronavirus update, Feb. 23, 2021: Respirator obligation moved to midnight Wednesday

School reopening to be debated Wednesday, vaccinated people don’t need to quarantine, govt. Compensation program extended Staff

Written by Staff Published on 23.02.2021 09:01:00 (updated on 23.02.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

Respirators to be mandatory as of Wednesday midnight

Wearing FFP2 respirators or similar quality protection will be mandatory as of Wednesday at midnight, Health Minister Jan Blatný said after Monday’s Czech government meeting. Previously, he had said it would take effect Monday at midnight.

A respirator, nano-mask, or two medical face masks will have to be worn in shops, services, at public transport stops, on public transport, airports, health facilities with outpatient care, and social service facilities. They will also have to be worn in cars with members of more than one household. Children will have to wear at least a surgical face mask.

As of the end of February, at least a surgical face mask will compulsory for all in other places inside buildings and outdoors in municipalities. Home-made face masks are only allowed till the end of February. Children between 2 and 15 must use at least a medical face mask. The exemptions include public transport drivers, participants in court procedures, spouses at wedding ceremonies, actors, dancers, lecturers, and some athletes.

School reopening to be debated Wednesday

Health Minister Jan Blatný said the Czech government still counts on a partial return of children to schools on March 1, but Interior Minister Jan Hamáček declined to comment on the date of the return. Both said it would depend on the delivery of antigen tests for schoolchildren and whether the pandemic law would take effect in time. Blatný said if the pandemic law, which the Senate wants to redraft, were not in force, then the risk of the spread of the pandemic in schools would be too big.

Antigen tests are expected to arrive Feb. 28, despite questions about the contract with the supplier. The issue of reopening schools will be taken up at the Wednesday meeting of the government.

Vaccinated people don’t need to isolate or quarantine

As of March 1, quarantine will no longer be required after coming into contact with someone who tests positive for COVID if the contacted person has had both vaccine doses and at least 14 days have passed since the second dose, Czech Health Minister Jan Blatný said. Currently, even people who were vaccinated against coronavirus must be quarantined if they come into contact with somenoe who tested positive. The contacted person also must have a certificate for the vaccination and must not have any symptoms.

Antivirus Program prolonged till end of April

The Czech government extended the validity of the temporary Antivirus Program to the end of April. Under the program, the state pays salaries or compensation to the people who would have been working in closed plants and in quarantine, or those harmed by the limitation of production, till the end of April, Labor and Social Affairs Minister Jana Maláčová tweeted.

As of March, the money is only to be paid for workers who are in a firm for at least three months, Maláčová said. The program is to prevent layoffs. The government provides contributions to salaries for the period since March 12, when the first state of emergency took effect. According to the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry, the benefit has been gained by 69,043 companies hit by the lockdown.

196,000 anti-COVID vaccine doses expected this week

Some 196,000 doses of vaccines against COVID-19 will arrive in the Czech Republic this week and 176,000 next week, the Health Ministry tweeted. Moreover, 3,510 additional doses from the Pfizer/BioNTech firm will be sent to the most coronavirus-afflicted regions, the Karlovy Vary, Plzeň, and the Hradec Králové regions.

As of February 18, producers supplied some 667,000 vaccine doses to the Czech Republic, most of which were from Pfizer/BioNTech, while Moderna and AstraZeneca supplied roughly 40,000 doses each. Under the original vaccination strategy schedule, 998,000 doses should have been supplied in January and February, over 900,000 in March and almost 1.5 million in April.

Record high number of serious COVID cases

There were 1,329 COVID-19 people in hospital in serious condition on Monday, the record-high number since the epidemic started almost one year ago.

The PES epidemic index reached 75 points on the 0-100 scale, while it was 80 for the five previous days, according to the latest data the Health Ministry released this morning. Originally a drop to 75 was reported on Feb. 22, but that was later revised upward. The reproduction number rose to almost 1.18.

The index is now in the fourth out of its five degrees. The fall by five points is due to the decreased proportion of the hospitalized in whom COVID-19 was only proven in hospital having dipped under 45 percent.

The number of new cases recorded on Monday reached 11,233, which was 2,332 more than a week ago.

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

  • Active cases 120 823
  • New cases 11,233
  • Deaths 19,537
  • Currently hospitalized 6,573
  • PCR tests performed 5,172,364
  • Antigen tests performed 2,404,058
  • Reported vaccinations 561,078
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