Coronavirus update, July 8, 2021: Czechs to see a grace-period for quarantine-free travel to Slovakia

Plus: The number of new cases rises sharply, Finland relaxes travel requirements for EU, and WHO warns against a premature return to normal. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 08.07.2021 09:58:00 (updated on 08.07.2021) Reading time: 5 minutes

Czechs may travel to Slovakia without quarantine for one month

Czechs will be able to travel to Slovakia immediately after their first Covid vaccine shot without having to enter quarantine between July 9 and Aug. 9, Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek told journalists. Slovakia recently announced that as of Friday, it would demand quarantine from all arrivals who were not fully inoculated, though with some exceptions. Kulhánek wrote that the following month was a temporary period. The conditions may toughen after Aug. 9. He said that he was negotiating with Slovakia on loosening the conditions for cross-border commuters and people living near the border. When it comes to cross-border workers, Slovakia may not keep demanding the two doses of Covid vaccination as one might be sufficient, Kulhánek said. For the Czechs living near the border, as accommodating conditions as possible should be set, he added.

Slovakia to reopen closed small border crossings

The Slovak government intends to reopen the small border crossings with its neighbors that were closed on Monday to prevent the spread of Covid, and has deployed more officers to check the observance of anti-epidemic measures at the border, Slovak Interior Minister Roman Mikulec told reporters. The closure of smaller crossings has complicated the commuting to work between the Czech Republic and Slovakia. At least two protests against this step were held at the Czech-Slovak border in the past few days. Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek has also pointed out the problems caused by halting the traffic at smaller crossings.

"We will gradually try to open the closed crossings and at the same time, secure checks of anti-epidemic measures," Mikulec said after the government meeting.

He expressed his understanding for the people in a difficult situation over the measure. However, it was taken to protect public health over the spread of the more infectious coronavirus mutations, he stressed. Last week, the Slovak government decided to close 14 out of the 32 crossings with the Czech Republic of July 5. Since then, the Slovak police have also started checking the observance of epidemic duties, such as the electronic registration when entering the country.  

Voting from quarantine to be possible in October election

The voters who will be in quarantine due to coronavirus will be able to select their lawmakers in the October general election as they may use portable ballot boxes and drive-in voting points under the legislation passed by the Czech Chamber of Deputies yesterday. The Senate is expected to give its consent in two weeks. The legislation will be used if there is still the state of pandemic over Covid by Sept. 15 or if the state of emergency is declared by the date. Like last autumn, it suggests three alternative votes in quarantine or isolation. Along with the drive-in vote or the use of portable ballot boxes, the people in individual quarantine may be visited by specially equipped election officials. It is also possible to vote in a close accommodation facility. The lower house dismissed the idea, presented by the Pirates, that the bill should be used to introduce postal voting for Czechs living abroad. The next general election is set for October 8–9.

WHO warns against premature return to normal

The World Health Organization (WHO) today warned of widespread and premature lifting of anti-Covid measures. The assumption that everyone is already protected by vaccination and that therefore a complete return to normal is possible again is dangerous for Europe and other regions, WHO Crisis Manager Mike Ryan warned in Geneva.

"I'm very pleased for countries that are getting this under control. But please spare a thought for those living without vaccines," Ryan said.

His warning coincides with concern over the spread of the Delta variant, which has been confirmed in an estimated 100 countries. WHO officials warn it could become the dominant form of the virus globally.

Finland relaxes travel requirements

Travelers from EU and Schengen countries will be able to enter Finland freely from July 12 without any additional health safety measures if they are two weeks after being fully vaccinated, have recovered from a coronavirus infection within six months, they were born in 2006 or later, and/or arrive from a country with low virus incidence. Those who have had just one vaccination shot are required to take a Covid test at least 72 hours after arrival to Finland. Those without any vaccinations need a negative test result taken before departure or on arrival.

Study: Over 40 percent of people unaware of coronavirus infection

More than 40 percent of people infected with coronavirus are unaware of the infection. Researchers from the University Medical Center in Mainz, Germany, found. They examined the infection in the western German city and in the neighboring district of Mainz-Bingen. Men unknowingly have the coronavirus unknowingly more often (44.2 percent) than women (40.6 percent). The research was based on PCR tests as well as antibody tests, which aim to determine whether a person has already undergone Covid-19.

Death rate returns to time before Covid pandemic

The death rate in the Czech Republic returned to the level before the Covid-19 pandemic in late May, according to the data from the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ). In May, 9,349 inhabitants of the country died, which was roughly one-fifth fewer than in April. The number of deaths in May is still slightly higher that this month's average in 2015 to 2019. In March, the death rate was two-thirds higher than the five-year average, while in May, it was just a few percent higher.

"While in April, mortality was still 28 percent higher (as against the average from 2015 to 2019), the May total number of 9,300 dead corresponded to 5-percent excess mortality only," statistician Terezie Štyglerová said.

March 2021 remains the month with the highest number of deaths in the history of the independent Czech Republic, as 16,700 people died then, according to the preliminary data, which was 62 percent above the average, she added. The highest weekly number of deaths was in the week from March 8 to 14 when roughly 4,000 died. Since then, the death toll has been decreasing. In late May it was under 2,000 a week.  

Number of new cases rises sharply

The number of newly detected coronvirus infections on Wednesday reached 279, more than double the number from last Wednesday and the highest daily increase since June 8. It is not clear if this is due to the holidays on Monday and Tuesday, which had low numbers. The number of new cases per 100,000 people over seven days rose to 10 for the entire Czech Republic, while in Prague the number rose to 32 from 30 on the previous day. Some 33 people are hospitalized with Covid, and two are in serious condition. No Covid-related deaths were reported, though that figure may be updated. A total of four deaths have been reported since the start of July.  

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (July 8, 2021)

  • New cases 279
  • Deaths 30,311
  • Currently hospitalized 33
  • PCR tests performed 8,228,900
  • Antigen tests performed 22,260,334
  • Total vaccinations 8,699,622
  • Daily increase in vaccinations 98,527
  • People who have completed vaccination 3,560,216
  • New cases per 100,000 in seven days 10
  • PES index 44
  • R number 1.20
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