Coronavirus update, Feb. 26, 2021: Govt. to announce new tougher rules today

Movement between districts may be banned, France will supply 100,000 Pfizer vaccine doses, South African mutation confirmed Staff

Written by Staff Published on 26.02.2021 09:18:00 (updated on 26.02.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

New tougher rules to be set today

After a vote in the Chamber of Deputies about the pandemic law and the government's request to extend the state of emergency, there will be another meeting of the ministers at which the government will set the conditions of the lockdown. Babiš said the state of emergency is needed to radically curb the mobility of the population. Babiš added the government was planning to close the kindergartens and schools and children's groups. Only the schools for the children of emergency staff should remain open.

"Let's hope everyone realizes the situation with us. We really need to limit the mobility of the population for a maximum of three weeks, because the new mutations we have, British and South African, are really aggressive, behave completely differently and our fellow citizens of all ages end up in intensive care units, " Babiš said.

If the lower house does not extend the state of emergency, the government will consider declaring a new one. It is also possible to proceed along with the pandemic law that may take effect as of Saturday. However, this legislation does not allow the ban on assembly and public meetings, or changes to work duties.

Movement between districts may be banned

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said that part of the proposed tougher rules includes a ban on movement between districts. There will be exceptions for trips to work or to care for a close person. In order to cope with the pandemic, the Czech Republic needs people to only go to work. Otherwise, they should stay at home, absolutely limiting their contacts, Babiš said. The new rules cannot be approved, though, until the Chamber of Deputies extends the state of emergency. The lower house should vote on the extension as well as the new pandemic law, which the Senate returned with changes, today.

Quarantine to be prolonged to 14 days

The mandatory quarantine will be prolonged from 10 to 14 days due to the spread of the more infectious mutations, Health Minister Jan Blatný said after Thursday's government meeting. Currently, those testing positive for COVID-19 as well as those in close contact with an infected person must be quarantined. Public health officers said before they would adopt an individual approach when ordering the quarantine if there is the suspicion of the mutation of the virus.

Double masks no longer sufficient

Respirators will be mandatory in mass transport, retail stores, and other places where people gather as of March 1, Health Minister Jan Blatný said after Thursday's government meeting. Two medical masks are no longer sufficient. Blatný also said as of March 1, employers would have to equip their employees with the necessary protective means.

Blanket testing in companies to be launched in March

The Czech Republic will launch blanket testing in companies on March 1, Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlíček said after the extraordinary government meeting. Four tests per person a month will be paid for. In the first stage, the system will be voluntary. The testing will be partly covered by public health insurance. Mass testing in companies is one of the demands by the opposition Pirates and the Mayors and Independents (STAN). Employers, too, have repeatedly demanded enhancement of the testing.

France to supply 100,000 Pfizer vaccine doses

France will supply 100,000 Pfizer/BioNTech anti-COVID vaccine doses to the Czech Republic by mid-March, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said. He has also addressed other EU member states. Earlier this week, soldiers brought in 5,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine from Israel. It will be used to vaccinate soldiers who help treat COVID-19 patients in hospitals.

Anti-COVID drug from Eli Lilly arrives

The first supply of the bamlanivimab anti-COVID drug that should prevent patients from developing a serious form of the infection has arrived. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) tweeted it was delivered to Prague’s Thomayer Hospital from where it will be distributed to other hospitals meeting the requirements for its use. The Czech Republic is among 12 countries that have it, Babiš wrote. The first supply should be 500 doses. On top of that, the first delivery of 4,000 Regeneron anti-COVID drug doses should arrive in March, while 12,000 doses were ordered in total.

Czech Republic confirms first case of South African mutation

One case of the more contagious South African mutation of coronavirus has been confirmed in the Czech Republic, the Health Ministry said. Seven suspected cases of the mutation had been reported, some of them being linked to a tourist trip to Zanzibar. The information has also been confirmed by the National Public Health Institute's (SZÚ) referential laboratory for flu, which performs genetic sequencing. Another case has been strongly indicated based on a PCR test. Sequencing was impossible in the second case due to the low concentration of RNA.

Record number of serious cases, deaths approach 20,000

Another 14,457 confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported in the Czech Republic on Thursday, some 2,758 more than a week ago. There are over 7,176 patients in hospitals, and a record 1,531 people are in serious condition, 54 more than on the previous day.

The PES index remained at 75, corresponding to the fourth level of seriousness but the country is operating on the fifth level. The R number was at 1.15, up from 1.13 the previous day. Deaths hit 19.999, and are expected to soon cross the 20,000 threshold.

Latest COVID-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Feb. 26, 2021)

  • Active cases 137,698
  • New cases 14,457
  • Deaths 19,999
  • Currently hospitalized 7 176
  • PCR tests performed 5,292,011
  • Antigen tests performed 2,577,070
  • Reported vaccinations 623,820
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