Coronavirus update, June 9, 2021: Surgical masks should be sufficient in Czech shops, transit from July 1

Plus: European Parliament voted on Covid passports, prices for PCR and antigen tests for self-payers capped. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 09.06.2021 09:40:00 (updated on 09.06.2021) Reading time: 5 minutes

Surgical masks in shops and transit should be sufficient as of July 1

Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said that from July 1 it is likely that surgical masks will be sufficient for people in public transport and shops, instead of respirators. The condition for this relaxation of the rules is further calming of the coronavirus epidemic. It will take into account several parameters, namely the incidence, relative positivity of tests or the occurrence of mutations.The obligation to wear a respirator or other better respiratory protection in the Czech Republic has applied since Feb. 25.

Prices for PCR, antigen tests for self-payers capped

The Health Ministry cut the maximum price for Covid tests for self-payers. A PCR tests may cost up to CZK 814 as against CZK 1,510, while an antigen test may come up to CZK 201 instead of CZK 351, the ministry wrote in its bulletin yesterday.

"Currently, every Czech citizen is entitled to have two PCR tests a month covered, as well as one antigen tests per week. Moreover, we want other tests that people pay to be as affordable as possible, because they are the condition upon which people can use services, attend events, enter healthcare and social care facilities and travel," Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said.

Public health insurers pay for PCR tests required by doctors and public health officers upon one's contact with an infected person. Newly, people are entitled to undergo two PCR tests per month upon their request while previously, all voluntary PCR tests were paid by the tested person. Regarding antigen tests, the Czechs used to have one test in three days free. Since June, only one test per week is covered by the public health insurance. As of July, people will have only two antigen and two PCR tests monthly free of charge. On Monday, the government decided that all kinds of coronavirus tests including self-tests or a statutory declaration will be recognized everywhere in the country to prove the absence of infection in a person. Besides tests, one may prove the absence of infection with a Covid vaccination certificate or confirmation of recovery.

European Parliament voted on Covid passports, Czech parliament to discuss issue

Members of European Parliament last night voted to introduce Covid passports, officially called called the Digital Covid Certificate, to make it easier for people to travel across borders during a pandemic from July. The proposal, supported by all the strongest political groups in parliament, is expected to pass smoothly. MEPs voted remotely, so the EP will not announce the results until Wednesday morning. In the debate, MEPs said that digital certificates would be a great relief for the people of the European Union and the needy tourism industry. MEPs reached the final approval of passports under an abbreviated procedure less than three months after the European Commission proposed their introduction in March. People vaccinated, those with a negative test, or antibodies after an illness will be able to get the certificate free of charge.

“This is not just for tourists or tourism but is about re-launching mutual trust between Member States and among EU citizens.” chief parliamentary negotiator Juan López Aguilar said.

Nine EU countries – the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Spain, Croatia, Bulgaria, Greece, Denmark, and Lithuania – have already started offering certificates to people in trial operation. "More than a million people have already received the certificates and many more will follow in the coming weeks and months," Commissioner Didier Reynders said.

The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Czech parliament, will discuss the legal framework for accepting the EU certificates again today.

Covid certificate system now operating for foreigners

The online portal to access certificates showing Covid vaccination and testing is now working for people who do not have a citizen’s ID card. The launch was supposed to happen June 7, but was delayed. People can log into the special portal of the of the Institute of Health Information and Statistics (ÚZIS). On the lower right, they can enter their name, email address, and date of birth. People can present the certificates when traveling to Germany, Austria, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Croatia since the Czech Republic has negotiated a bilateral pact with each of them. They can also be used at theaters, restaurants, pools, saunas, and other places that require proof of Covid status.


April sees lowest monthly death toll since autumn

There were 11,500 deaths in the Czech Republic in April, which is 27 percent more as against the average values of the past five years and simultaneously, it is the lowest monthly death toll since last October when the second coronavirus wave gained momentum, the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ) announced. Health Ministry data show that roughly 2,550 people with coronavirus died in April. Among the elderly over 80, the April death toll came back to the numbers before the epidemic. In comparison with average values for April recorded between 2015 to 2019, 2,500 people more died in April 2021. As against the March death toll, April saw 5,100 fewer deaths, statisticians say, adding that the March values were record high, exceeding the average by 62 percent. The Health Ministry considers March 2021 the deadliest month in more than a year of the coronavirus epidemic as there were 6,000 Covid-related fatalities.

"The development of the mortality rate in the elderly citizens aged 80 and more confirmed the positive trend from March when the mortality in this senior category came back to the pre-pandemic values," the head of the ČSÚ demography statistics section, Terezie Štyglerová, said.

The mortality rate improved in septuagenarians, too. Nevertheless, it was still one third higher compared with usual values from 2015 to 2019.

Lowest number of new cases on a Tuesday since August

The coronavirus epidemic is further declining in the Czech Republic. Tests on Tuesday confirmed 384 cases of the infection, which is 94 less than a week ago and at the same time the lowest Tuesday increase since the end of August, according to Health ministry data. The incidence number also continues to fall, with less than 20 infected per 100,000 inhabitants in the past seven days. This indicator is above 25 in the South Bohemia and Liberec regions. The lowest is in the Karlovy Vary Region, where it is 4.8. The reproduction number R, which indicates the average number of infected from one positive test, has decreased slightly to 0.83 to date. It was 0.84 on Tuesday.

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (June 9, 2021)

  • New cases 384
  • Deaths 30,202
  • Currently hospitalized 285
  • PCR tests performed 7,485,816
  • Antigen tests performed 18,666,418
  • Total vaccinations 6,099,710
  • Daily increase in vaccinations 111,024
  • People who have completed vaccination 1,852,757
  • New cases per 100,000 in seven days 20
  • PES index 34
  • R number 0.83
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