Coronavirus update, Jan. 13, 2021: large vaccination center to open in Prague’s O2 universum

PES index hits its lowest level for this month; lawmakers will meet today to discuss a new approach to the anti-epidemic system.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 13.01.2021 08:47 (updated on 13.01.2021)

The PES anti-epidemic system's COVID risk index dropped by three points to 81 out of 100 in the Czech Republic today, the lowest figure since the beginning of this year, as all indicators for its calculation decreased, the Health Ministry's data released this morning show. The country stills stay at the worst, fifth alert degree.

The reproduction (R) number, which shows the average number of the people who are infected from one positively tested person, has dropped from 1.12 to 1.01. If it falls under 1.00, the infection spread will slow down.

Lawmakers are expected to meet Wednesday to discuss changes to the PES system which would enable shops, hotels or sports facilities to be open for people with a negative test in the 4th degree of the PES.

In other COVID-related news it was announced that a high-capacity coronavirus vaccination center will be established in the O2 universum multipurpose congress facility in the Prague’s Libeň neighborhood, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who visited the site Tuesday, tweeted.

His adviser and former health minister Roman Prymula told public Czech TV that the center should be put into operation in late January.

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The four-story O2 universum with the area of almost 50,000 square meters is adjacent to the giant O2 Arena, and its largest hall has a total capacity of 4,500 people.

Previously, the Health Ministry received the offer to place hospitals for COVID patients in the O2 Arena and the Congress Center Prague, but it was built in pavilions at the Prague-Letňany exhibition grounds eventually.

The anti-COVID Astra Zeneca vaccine may gain registration from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) by the end of January, and the Czech Republic expects 3 million doses of it this year, including 200,000 in February, the State Institute for Drugs Control (SÚKL) has said.

Along with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which, however, cannot be kept by general practitioners in their offices due to the demanding storage conditions, Astra Zeneca makes up a majority of the vaccine supplies the Czech Republic has bought for 2021.

“As the vaccine is easier to handle and store, the vaccination will become more accessible. It is another step towards the chance for us to return to normal life,” SÚKL director Irena Storová said.

If the vaccine is approved by the EMA, it will be the third to gain the registration for the EU market, after the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which the EMA conditionally approved on Dec. 21 and Jan. 6.

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Right now, some 7,300 healthcare personnel are infected with the novel coronavirus, Czech Medical Chamber (ČLK) President Milan Kubek told journalists.

The Institute of Health Information and Statistics (ÚZIS) said at the end of last year, there were 6,268 of them and since then, there were roughly another 1,000. Kubek said there were some 1,250 doctors and 3,400 nurses among the infected.

In all, almost 270,000 people work in the Czech health system. Since the epidemic outbreak, around 55,600 of them have got infected with the virus. “This is about one in four,” Kubek said.

Hospitals are saying the infected health staff are the biggest problem in the care for the COVID-19 infected. Some small, regional health facilities were forced to transport the infected to other regions.

Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski told journalists on Monday that a Czech mutation of coronavirus appeared in Poland, but the Czech Health Ministry has denied this.

Niedzielski also said Polish public health officers had not recorded any case of the English coronavirus mutation.

“We cannot confirm that the British variant of COVID-19 has appeared in Poland. However, we have the confirmed information on the ‘Czech variant,’” Niedzielski said without elaborating.

Czech Health Ministry Barbora Peterová said the laboratories were proceeding in the way that would detect potential new coronavirus mutations, but this had not happened, SeznamZpravy.cz said.

The National Health Institute (SZÚ) does not know anything about the “Czech coronavirus variant,” mentioned by Niedzielski, either.

Latest COVID data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Jan. 13, 2021)

  • Active cases 149,397
  • New cases 10,725
  • Deaths 13,656
  • Currently hospitalized 7,267
  • Antigen tests performed 1,115,113
  • Reported vaccinations 19,918 (*Cumulative number of all reported vaccine doses as of Jan. 6, 2021 at 6 pm. Updated every Thursday).