Coronavirus update, Jan. 18, 2021: Czech government set to debate move to fourth risk level

New COVID-19 cases hit the lowest level this year, children’s clothing shops and stationery stores will reopen on Tuesday.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 18.01.2021 09:17:00 (updated on 18.01.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

The PES anti-epidemic system’s index remains at 70 points out of 100 in the Czech Republic which means the country remains at the fourth COVID risk degree for the fifth day in a row. Most parameters have improved since Sunday, but the reproduction number slightly rose, the Health Ministry's morning data shows.

The reproduction (R) number, which expresses the average number of the people who are infected from one positively tested person, increased from 0.68 to 0.71. Other parameters for the index calculation, the share of the COVID hospitalizations as well as the average number of the infected per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days and the two-week average number of infected seniors per 100,000, have dropped.

There were another 2,618 coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic on Sunday, the smallest number this year and 1,700 fewer than on previous Sunday, according to the data released by the Health Ministry this morning. The number of the hospitalized with COVID-19 dropped by almost 150 to 6,330.

Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlíček (for ANO) said on Prima TV that the cabinet will probably discuss the country's switch to the milder fourth alert level on Wednesday.

Referring to the possible lockdown softening, Havlíček said it is first necessary to see the virus risk keeping at the current fourth risk degree for seven consecutive days at least. In addition, the situation in hospitals will be crucial, he said.

“We have to be cautious. We don't wish any single day of unneeded restrictions, but we have to be sure that the situation would not quickly deteriorate again after the [lockdown's partial] lifting," Havlíček said.

He admitted that the reopening of restaurants following the earlier loosening of lockdown measures in early December was a mistake.

Restaurants were closed again after just several days following a steep surge in the number of coronavirus infections.

Shops selling stationery, children's clothes, shoes, or underwear can reopen in the Czech Republic as of Tuesday, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) said, adding that he expects no other softening of the coronavirus restrictions for the moment.

Up until now, those items have not been part of the essential goods that can be sold even though most shops have been closed within the lockdown.

The start of the vaccination process for seniors over 80 was accompanied by technical problems when the reservation system launched on Friday. On Saturday, the vaccination in some hospitals slowed down due to temporarily unaccessible reservation data.

A total of 154,192 seniors over 80 have gotten registered in the central vaccination reservation system since its launch on Friday morning by 7 pm on Sunday, and 44,008 of them have also booked a vaccination time slot, government commissioner for IT Vladimír Dzurilla said.

Based on the reservations, 1,671 people were vaccinated at the vaccination places in hospitals across the country by Saturday afternoon, Babiš said.

Besides the registered seniors, the vaccine also goes to medical workers and clients of seniors' care homes, the groups that were the first to start being vaccinated as of Dec. 27.

On Friday, Babiš (ANO) called it unnecessary for the system to open to all citizens as of Feb. 1 in a situation where the country's vaccine supplies are limited and designed exclusively for priority groups.

Latest COVID data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Jan. 18, 2021)

  • Active cases 144,957
  • New cases 2,618
  • Deaths 14,449
  • Currently hospitalized 6,330
  • PCR tests performed 4,265,365
  • Antigen tests performed 1,217,414
  • Reported vaccinations 70,680 (* a cumulative number of all reported vaccine doses as of Jan. 13, 2021, at 6 pm. Updated every Thursday).
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