Coronavirus update, Feb. 25, 2021: Govt. talks on stricter lockdown rules to continue tonight

Schools won’t start to reopen, govt. to contribute to blanket testing at companies, travel banned to some African countries and Brazil. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 25.02.2021 08:56:00 (updated on 25.02.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

Govt.’s strict lockdown talks enter second day

The Czech government did not decide on how to toughen the COVID lockdown at its meeting last night. Talks will continue today at 6 p.m. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš wants to return the stricter type of lockdown that the Czech Republic saw a year ago in an effort to stop the spread of the more contagious British mutation of coronavirus. Babiš said reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the next two to three weeks is critical to save the health care system from collapse. The government is considering limiting the movement between regions and up to a certain distance from the place of residence. Some more retail stores that are still open may be closed.

Babiš: Schools won’t start to reopen

Students will not return to schools in early March as has been planned, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said at a press briefing after the government's morning meeting. He declined to mention any other date. Under the now-canceled plan, some 450,000 students would have returned to schools by mid-March, while taking frequent antigen tests. Currently, only kindergartens, schools for disabled children, and the first two grades of elementary schools are open, and those are likely to close. Only the facilities for the children of the health and emergency personnel may continue. 

Babiš to verify info about AstraZeneca shortfall

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has received information about potential shortages of the COVID vaccines from AstraZeneca for the EU in the second quarter and he is trying to verify it. News agency Reuters reported that the pharmaceutical firm told EU officials it would deliver less than half of the promised vaccine doses to the EU in the second quarter. AstraZeneca on Tuesday evening reported it was trying to increase its production capacity to be able to keep the promised 180 million vaccine doses.

Govt. to ask lower house to prolong state of emergency

The Czech government will ask the Chamber of Deputies to cancel its resolution saying the state of emergency should end along with the effect of the pandemic law on Feb. 27 at the latest, and it will ask it to prolong the state of emergency till the end of March, Interior Minister Jan Hamáček said. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said in the current epidemiological situation, the measures under the pandemic law were not sufficient.

Travel banned to some African countries and Brazil

The Health Ministry has banned Czechs' entry to some African and Latin American countries between Feb. 26 and April 4, the Government Office said. The measure bans trips to Botswana, Brazil, Eswatini, South Africa, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The measure is in response to the threat of Brazil and South African mutations of the coronavirus spreading to the Czech Republic. Some exceptions apply.

Govt. to contribute to blanket testing at companies

The state will contribute to blanket testing in companies and for small entrepreneurs as of March, Czech Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlíček told journalists after an extraordinary government meeting. The government has approved 11 products for voluntary self-testing in companies. Havlíček said before the price of the test ranged between CZK 60–150 and in extreme cases, it was up to CZK 200. The state is to contribute CZK 60 crowns per test, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said. The employers will have the duty to report all positively tested staff to public health stations.

Police will check for unsatisfactory face coverings

Prague police officers will focus on whether a person has his nose and mouth covered and will also check for unsatisfactory protective equipment such as a scarf or shawl. In the field, it is difficult for police to know whether the protection meets the filtration efficiency of at least 95 percent. People now have to use FFP2 or equivalent respirators, nano-masks, or two surgical masks on public transport, shops, hospitals, and some other locations. Violations of extraordinary measures can continue to be resolved by agreement, a fine of up to CZK 10,000, or notification to the administrative body.

PES index steady, R number drops

For the last two days, the PES index has been at 75. For the previous six days ending Monday, the index had been at 80. The R number dropped to 1.13. Any number over 1.0 means exponential growth. The number of new infections, at 13,657, decreased compared to Tuesday but was still the second-highest increase since the first week of January. Compared to last Wednesday, the number of new cases increased by about 2,700. There are currently 6,967 people in hospitals, about 120 fewer than on Tuesday. 1,432 people in hospitals are in a difficult state, compared to Tuesday it is 10 fewer.

As of this morning, there were 566 vacant beds at the anesthesiology and resuscitation wards and intensive care units, which is 14 percent of the total capacity in the country. One-third of beds equipped with lung ventilation and less than a quarter of standard oxygen beds are vacant now.

Latest COVID-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Feb. 25, 2021)

  • Active cases 131,758
  • New cases 13,657
  • Deaths 19,835
  • Currently hospitalized 6,967
  • PCR tests performed 5,253,023
  • Antigen tests performed 2,519,755
  • Reported vaccinations 600,429
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