Coronavirus update, Jan. 19, 2021: Stationery shops can reopen Tuesday, but schools will remain closed

The Czech government has also requested an extension of the emergency state until Feb. 21 due to highly contagious UK strain.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 19.01.2021 09:42 (updated on 19.01.2021)

Following its Monday meeting, the Czech government announced that stationery and children's clothing and footwear stores will open, and schools will remain closed.

Currently, the anti-coronavirus measures in the country remain at the strictest, fifth degree. Both Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček and Health Minister Jan Blatný said the lockdown rules should not be loosened until the situation in hospitals improves.

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals must not exceed 3,000 if the country's PES epidemic alert, including lockdown measures, are to be relaxed from the current strictest fifth level to the fourth, Blatný said after Monday’s cabinet meeting.

The PES epidemic system's index has stayed at 70 points out of 100 in the Czech Republic for the third day, which means the fourth COVID risk degree for the sixth day in a row. The reproduction number, however, slightly rose again to 0.76, data released by the Health Ministry this morning shows.

Hamáček said the anti-epidemic measures be relaxed only after the daily numbers of new confirmed COVID-19 cases drop to 1,000-2,000. He said he hoped the Czech Republic would remain under the fifth alert level for some time.

The Czech government agreed to ask the Chamber of Deputies to extend the current state of emergency by 30 days due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hamáček told the Czech News Agency.

If the lower house gives its approval, the state of emergency will last until Feb, 21. It will likely discuss the proposal on Thursday.

Hamáček and Blatný said the state of emergency needs to be extended in part due to the risk of the British coronavirus variant that spreads more quickly.

The British mutation has been found in the Czech Republic, the Czech Institute of Public Health (SZÚ) spokeswoman Klára Doláková said, adding that the SZÚ laboratory detected the mutation in first samples and further samples are being examined.

Education Minister Robert Plaga said on Twitter that the present school closures will continue to be applied next week.

Health Minister Blatný originally anticipated that students in the final years of elementary and secondary schools could attend school from next week, but has now said increasing the number of students going to school would be a mistake.

Since the beginning of the year, schools have been closed to most students, who have been on the distance learning regime. Only kindergartens, schools for children with disabilities and the first and second grades of elementary schools remain open.

While schools will remain closed, stationery stores and shops with children’s clothes and shoes may reopen in the Czech Republic as of Tuesday, Minister of Trade Karel Havlíček said at yesterday's meeting. Underwear and adult shoes were not included in the exemptions as originally expected.

The Czech government approved that a high-capacity vaccination center will be built in the O2 Universum congress center in Prague, Prime Minister Babiš said on Twitter.

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The plan is to vaccinate up to 10,000 people per day in the vaccination center, which will be operated by the Central Military Hospital (ÚVN), Babiš said.

Latest COVID data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Jan. 19, 2021)

  • Active cases 134,481
  • New cases 7,590
  • Deaths 14,646
  • Currently hospitalized 6,666
  • PCR tests performed 4,294,710
  • Antigen tests performed 1,250,593
  • 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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