Coronavirus update, Jan. 25, 2021: Czech Republic won’t go to fourth PES level before mid-February

The Czech government will discuss changes to the PES system; vaccine registration system won’t expand as planned.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 25.01.2021 09:40:00 (updated on 25.01.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

The PES coronavirus risk index of the Czech Republic’s epidemic system remains at 69 on a scale of 100 for the third day in a row today, corresponding to the fourth level out of five, according to the Health Ministry's morning data. The country remains at the fifth and highest level.

At its Monday meeting, the cabinet will discuss modifications to the PES system that, if approved, would take effect as of Feb. 1. The switch to the fourth level, however, would not happen before mid-February at the earliest, Health Minister Jan Blatný said on Sunday.

The planned modified system may permit the reopening of elementary and secondary schools to final year students. At lower alert levels, mass events may be permitted if organizers request that participants submit a negative COVID test. The same may apply to hotels and restaurants.

The modified system would mean that the Czech Republic could switch from the current highest to the milder fourth alert level if the number of COVID patients falls below 3,000 in hospitals and below 450 in intensive care units.

The reproduction number, which shows how many people catch COVID-19 from one infected person, again slightly increased today, to 0.9. It has been rising for eight days in a row. The other criteria have been slightly improving, with the risk index remaining unchanged.

By mid-February, the government may also receive a draft amendment to the crisis law newly regulating the epidemic state so that the state of emergency will not have to be prolonged over the epidemic, according to Blatný who added that the government would most likely ask for another prolongation.

The registration system for COVID-19 vaccination will not be expanded as originally planned, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told journalists.

It will only open after there are enough vaccines and depending on the interest of the octogenarians for the vaccination, Babiš said. Hospitals have yet to deal with the question of ensuring the vaccination of patients who come to them.

There are around 440,000 people over 80. Since Jan. 15, they can be registered in the online vaccination system. Babiš said so far 183,000 had been entered, with roughly 100,000 of them waiting to be invited for the vaccination.

The system was originally to open for next category of people on Feb. 1.

“We will certainly not open any new registrations or categories of people because we will be still vaccinating this category of over 80 for a long time. There is not yet any plan to open any new age categories from the viewpoint of vaccination,” Babiš said.

The state does not yet know how many octogenarians and older people from the institutes have been inoculated. Babiš said there was no feedback from the homes as yet. He said every day some 2,000 to 3,000 Czechs over 80 were entered in the system. Most of the people over 80 who live at home are recorded in the system by their relatives.

A group headed by chief public health officer Jarmila Rážová will draw up an analysis saying whether it is possible to require mandatory use of FFP2 respirators in high-risk places, taking into account the purchasing power, Blatný told Czech Television.

The government is considering introducing the rule, similar to the model of Germany and Austria. Blatný said the government did not want the same measure for the Czech Republic to become a financial burden.

The duty to wear FFP2 respirators in public transport and shops was also discussed by the Central Crisis Staff (ÚKS), its head Jan Hamáček tweeted on Friday.

According to him, FFP2s should not be compulsory, but a strong recommendation should be made that people wear FFPs at places where many people gather.

The government, on its part, should secure the FFP2's affordability by lowering the VAT, regulating the price or issuing vouchers to low-income citizens. The respirators are subject to the highest 21 percent VAT.

Latest COVID data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Jan. 25, 2021)

  • Active cases 104,889
  • New cases 2,376
  • Deaths 15,453
  • Currently hospitalized 5,621
  • PCR tests performed 4,433,800
  • Antigen tests performed 1,380,576
  • Reported vaccinations 192,267
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