Coronavirus update, Jan. 21, 2021: Czech officials to discuss state of emergency extension today

Officials say they may make respirators mandatory in shops and transport; the country is also seeking fast vaccine approval.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 21.01.2021 08:48 (updated on 21.01.2021)

The PES anti-epidemic system index stayed at 73 points out of 100 in the Czech Republic today for the second day in a row, which means the country has remained at the fourth COVID risk degree for over a week. The reproduction (R) number, however, has slightly risen, data released by the Health Ministry this morning shows.

The R number, expressing the average number of the people who are infected from one positively tested person, jumped to 0.83 from 0.82 on Wednesday, but the three other factors that determine how the index is calculated have held steady.

Along with the R number, those factors are the average number of infected per 100,000 inhabitants over 14 days, the two-week average number of infected seniors per 100,000, as well as the share of hospitalized patients whose COVID infection was confirmed only in the hospital. These three indicators have been in decline all week.

Despite the fact that the number of newly infected as dropped, the Czech government has no plans to lift its restrictions. Measures against coronavirus in the Czech Republic, which follow the index, currently correspond to the strictest fifth degree. Officials point to overburdened hospitals and the occurrence of the highly contagious British mutation of the virus in the Czech Republic as the reason for keeping restrictions intact.

The Czech government will meet today to discuss the extension of the state of emergency until Feb. 21. The approval of the state of emergency by thirty days means govt. measures can remain in place. The state of emergency has been in effect since Oct. 5, 2020.

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"Current measures must continue. Without them, it is not possible to reduce the pressure on the healthcare system...a vote against the extension of the state of emergency would be a blow to health professionals. It would bring about the loosening of all regulations, the departure of soldiers from homes for the elderly and the departure of aid from hospitals," Minister of the Interior Jan Hamáček said Wednesday.

At a Wednesday press conference, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said the Czech government is considering the mandatory to wearing of respirators in shops and public transport. This is due to the faster spread of the British mutation of coronavirus.

Yesterday it was also announced that a final version of the updated table of measures linked to the PES system would be prepared for Thursday. Minister of Health Minister Blatný plans to present the measures to the government on Friday.

The Czech Republic is among four EU states seeking fast vaccine approval. Like other EU countries, including Austria, Greece, and Denmark, the Czech Republic faces reduced deliveries of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines against coronavirus. 

PM Babiš told Czech Television that the deliveries from Pfizer are to be reduced by 30 percent in the next three weeks, which means that the country will receive some 80,000 fewer doses than originally agreed on. In total, the Czech Republic ordered roughly 20 million vaccine doses.

Nearly 130,000 anti-coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered in the Czech Republic to date. Health Minister Jan Blatný said that 1.3 percent of the 10.7-million population have been vaccinated.

Latest COVID data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Jan. 21, 2021)

  • Active cases 119,828
  • New cases 8,162
  • Deaths 14,973
  • Currently hospitalized 6,608
  • PCR tests performed 4,355,538
  • Antigen tests performed 1,298,659
  • Reported vaccinations 154,989 (* a cumulative number of all reported vaccine doses as of Jan. 21, 2021, at 7 am. Updated every Thursday).