Coronavirus update, July 21, 2021: Czech foreign minister won't rule out further border measures

Five foreign ministers from Central Europe met in Mělník yesterday to discuss a coordinated strategy against the Delta variation of coronavirus. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 21.07.2021 09:42:00 (updated on 21.07.2021) Reading time: 5 minutes

Czech foreign minister says further border measures not ruled out due to Delta

Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek did not rule out further anti-coronavirus measures at borders after the talks with his Central European counterparts from Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia (C5 group) yesterday. He also announced the establishment of their joint group to secure in-time information about such measures. The ministers agreed that the only efficient path is the vaccination of the highest possible number of inhabitants against Covid-19, they said at a press conference. This has been the fifth meeting of the Central 5 (C5) group, which was formed about a year ago with the main aim to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

"We must be still on alert because of the new virus mutations and adapt our strategy to them," Kulhánek said.

He proposed that a network of contact persons be set up to coordinate the cooperation of the C5 countries in the fight against Covid-19. "We want to primarily guarantee that we will inform one another sufficiently in advance about the prepared measures not to catch us and our citizens by surprise," Kulhánek added. Along with him, the meeting in Mělník was attended by the foreign ministers of Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Austria.

Experts: Children's Covid inoculation has more benefits than risks

Benefits from children's vaccination against Covid-19 prevail over possible risks of adverse effects, while the infection may also have serious consequences for minors, the Czech Vaccinology Society (ČVS) says in its stance released by its chairman Roman Chlíbek. So far, the Covid vaccine from the Pfizer/BioNTech firms is available in the Czech Republic for children over 12. Though the Covid-19 disease has a less serious course in children than in adults, six children have died of Covid in the Czech Republic so far and more than 1,000 were hospitalized, 20 of whom required lung ventilation. Moreover, Covid-19 causes a serious multisystem inflammatory syndrome and long-term troubles dubbed "long Covid" in some children. As of July 3, the coronavirus infection was confirmed in 180,000 children under 15. From last October till this June, 201 children with the Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, called PIMS-TS and related to Covid-19, were registered. Medical professionals do not report any death of these complications.

The vaccination of all children aged from 12 to 17, to whom the Covid vaccine is accessible, would prevent some 3,000 cases of Covid-19 infection, 90 hospitalizations, 25 of which at intensive care units, and one or two child fatalities, vaccinologists say. Based on the frequency of side effects of the Covid vaccines, about 16 cases of heart muscle or membrane inflammation might occur in connection with children's inoculation. The registered cases of these side effects have been rare and usually mild, experts point out.

Walk-in vaccination centers opening in regions

Vaccination centers against covid-19 without prior registration will open today in three regional cities and in other places. In the morning, the vaccination center will start operating in the PSG arena in Zlín and also in the Forum Nová Karolina shopping center in Ostrava. It will be operated by the University Hospital Ostrava. At noon, a center will start operating in the Olympia shopping center in Brno. The Brno Vaccination Center will be open daily from 10 am to 8 pm. People will have a choice of a single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson and a two-dose vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech. The Ostrava center with a capacity of 800 people a day will be open every day from 8 am to 7 pm. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be administered. The opening of the centers in Ostrava and Brno will be attended by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch. Other centers without registrations will be available from Wednesday at the health center in Luhačovice in the Zlín region and in Uherské Hradiště at Medical Plus. A new vaccination center will also be opened without registration in Jaroměř in the Hradec Králové region.

Vaccination centers' operation costs tens of thousands crowns a day

The operation of Covid-19 vaccination centers in the Czech Republic costs tens of thousands of crowns a day, most of the sum being spent on the staff, and some hospitals addressed by ČTK have enumerated their overall vaccination spending since its start in late 2020 at millions of crowns. The operation of the national vaccination center in Prague's O2 universum arena, which jabs about 6,600 to 6,700 people a day at present, cost some CZK 1.8 million in May, its first month in operation, the supervising Central Military Hospital (ÚVN) said. ÚVN pays for the services the O2 universum provides for the vaccination center's operation, such as cleaning, security, accreditation services, information system, heating, air-conditioning, water and energy consumption. The rent the ÚVN has to pay to Bestsport is a symbolic CZK 1,000 crowns for the whole rent period.

Protesters plan to block Slovak border crossings this afternoon

Slovak cross-border commuters plan blockages of some border crossings with the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria this afternoon to protest against what they call the disproportionate government anti-epidemic measures, the server reported today. From 5 pm activists plan to block highway border crossings, namely the Slovak-Czech crossing at the Lanžhot / Brodské and two other locations. Organizers warned that the blockages may occur at smaller crossings, too.  

Meetings with Pope in Slovakia only for fully vaccinated

Only those with accomplished Covid vaccination will be allowed to attend public meetings with Pope Francis during his visit to Slovakia in September, Slovak media reported. The pope has been already inoculated against the infection and called on believers to get vaccinated, too, daily Pravda noted.

"Our common goal is to create the conditions for the Holy Father to have lovely memories from Slovakia, to create together the conditions for his suite as well as for believers who want to have deep spiritual experience. At the same time, we want to give the chance to attend the public ceremonies to as many people as possible," Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský said.

In July, Pope Francis announced that he will visit Slovakia on Sept. 12–15 after serving a mass in Budapest. During his stay, he is to visit Bratislava, Prešov, Košice, and the important pilgrimage site Šaštín.

R number remains under 1.0 for third day

There were 302 new Covid cases reported for Tuesday, a slight drop from the 316 reported the previous week. The index number of people infected per 100,000 over the past seven days remained at 15. The reproduction number R rose slightly to 0.96, but has been under the break-even point of 1.0 for three days in a row. There are 36 people hospitalized with Covid, with five in serious condition. No new deaths were reported, and the total death toll for July remains at eight. Prague is still the worst-hit region. The index number was steady at 41 per 100,000 over seven days. The R number was at 0.97, under 1.0 for two days in a row.

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (July 21, 2021)

  • New cases 302
  • Deaths 30,341
  • Currently hospitalized 36
  • PCR tests performed 8,621,501
  • Antigen tests performed 23,181,767
  • Total vaccinations 9,695,818
  • Daily increase in vaccinations 83,353
  • People who have completed vaccination
  • New cases per 100,000 in seven days 15
  • PES index 37
  • R number 0.96
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