Coronavirus update, Jan. 28, 2021: Czech govt. will meet today to decide over tougher lockdown measures

While relaxing restrictions was previously discussed, health officials are now troubled by the rise in new cases and will likely tighten measures.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 28.01.2021 09:06 (updated on 28.01.2021)

The Czech government will meet Thursday afternoon to further debate tightening the anti-coronavirus measures, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said Wednesday evening following a special meeting of the cabinet. He said despite previous discussions to the contrary there is currently no room for lockdown relaxation, rather stricter enforcement and/or tightening of the existing measures.

The news comes in light of this week's rise in coronavirus numbers.

With 9,144 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the Czech Republic saw an increase of 2,200 higher compared to Monday but by about 500 fewer compared to the previous Tuesday. The number of hospitalized COVID patients has fallen by 400 since the previous Tuesday to 6,043; of that number almost 1,000 are in serious condition.

Babiš said the country could not afford to relax the measures, but added that he could not say what the proposals for the lockdown tightening would entail.

"We will rather deal with the tightening of the measures. We are probably in a situation where the people who are observing the measures are annoyed and they have a feeling that the state is not enforcing them sufficiently. Then there are the people who do not observe them and are annoyed because we are taking measures," Babiš said.

Lawmakers are being equally cautious about returning students to the classroom. During the government meeting Wednesday Minister of Education Robert Plaga tweeted that schools will not reopen from Feb. 1 but continue remote learning due to the current epidemic situation.

Plaga hopes the Health Ministry manages to provide a blanket school testing scheme, for instance "gargle and spit" saliva tests for COVID-19, he said. This might enable more pupils to go back to school, Plaga added, noting that the logistics of testing will be crucial. According to experts, the final-year students most urgently need to return to school.

The PES epidemic index of system remains at 68 points for the third day in a row. The Czech Republic has remained at the fourth degree out of five risk levels for 15 days, despite the fact that fifth-level lockdown measures have been in force. Of the four indicators used to calculate the score, only the reproductive number has increased slightly to date, rising to 0.96, according to morning data from the Ministry of Health's website.

Latest COVID data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Jan. 28, 2021)

  • Active cases 97,316
  • New cases 8,452
  • Deaths 15,944
  • Currently hospitalized 5,925
  • PCR tests performed 4,519,978
  • Antigen tests performed 1,483,015
  • Reported vaccinations 236,697
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