Coronavirus update, March 11, 2021: Record 47,000 people vaccinated on Wednesday

Hamáček wants vaccination for police and firefighters, regional governors against Russian Sputnik vaccine, govt. to address antigen test shortage.

Expats.cz

Written by Expats.cz
Published on 11.03.2021 09:44 (updated on 11.03.2021)

Record 47,000 people vaccinated on Wednesday

Some 47,000 people were vaccinated against COVID-19 in the Czech Republic on Wednesday, which was a record high daily number since vaccination started in late December, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told reporters before his departure for a two-day visit to Israel this morning. Health Minister Jan Blatný said last week that he would like to achieve at least 35,000 applied vaccine doses a day in March. Except for Wednesday, this level was exceeded only once so far, on March 4 when 35,890 doses were administered. Vaccination against COVID-19 will be the main topic of Babiš's talks in Israel.

Hamáček wants vaccination for police, firefighters

Roughly 2,300 police officers and 422 firefighters are either infected with COVID-19 or quarantined in the Czech Republic now. The police and fire corps members are working very hard and they should be vaccinated as soon as the vaccine supplies allow this, Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček, head of the Central Crisis Staff (ÚKŠ), said. The group debated how to include the Integrated Rescue System into the vaccination scheme. Police officers are often exposed to the infection, for instance, during their ongoing checks of the observance of anti-epidemic measures and at demonstrations, while firefighters are helping medical personnel fight the coronavirus epidemic.

The Interior Ministry is to provide the vaccination of police and firefighters on its own and will not burden the vaccination centers with this task, Hamáček aid. "Now only a sufficient amount of vaccine doses must be allocated," he added.

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Expert group recommends stricter measures

Scientists from the Snow (Sníh) group call on the Czech government to introduce stricter anti-epidemic measures to minimize the numbers of new COVID-19 cases and propose using more precise PCR tests for regular testing of the public and employees, they said at a press conference. The current measures, though they have led to a slight improvement of the epidemic situation, only strive for averting collapse of the health care system, they added.

"The measures have been adopted and the situation is slightly improving. However, I would emphasize the word 'slightly,'" Social demographer Dagmar Dzúrová, from the Faculty of Science of Charles University, said.

She urged for a 40 day program aimed at reducing he daily number of new confirmed coronavirus cases under 1,000.

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Sharp increase in antigen tests carried out

The numbers of antigen tests for coronavirus carried out in Czech laboratories keep growing fast and the record high number of nearly 113,000 tests was conducted on Monday, according to the data that the Health Ministry released. On Tuesday, the laboratories carried out 95,442 antigen tests and 28,031 PCR tests, but these figures may still increase after their updating. The laboratories confirmed 15,196 COVID cases on Tuesday and 14.3 percent of the new infections were revealed by the antigen testing. The average daily number of conducted antigen tests is about 72,000 in March, or 82 percent higher than in February. This week, three-fourths of the tests for coronavirus are antigen tests and the rest are more reliable PCR tests. Testing points are full and all possible testing dates in the next several weeks have been reserved by people.

Govt. to address testing shortage

Health Minister Jan Blatný said it was a problem that public testing centers have no free capacity and he called on employers to use self-testing instead of sending employees to the public testing centers. Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček said that the Health Ministry should solve the situation as soon as possible. Even civil service offices are relying on public testing. Labor Office employees are being tested at public testing points and the office does not plan self-testing, according to a decision by the Labor Office director general. The Labor Office is one of the biggest public offices in the country and it has about 11,800 employees.

Regional governors against Russian Sputnik vaccination

Some Czech regional governors made it clear today that they do not intend to allow COVID inoculation by the vaccine which will not have the European Medicines Agency (EMA) consent, they told journalists in response to President Miloš Zeman's advocating the Russian vaccine Sputnik V. Regional authorities are in charge of the distribution of vaccines. South Bohemia regional governor and the head of the Association of Regions Martin Kuba tweeted that Zeman wants the vaccination by Sputnik without the routine approval by the EMA.

"If he wants to make vaccinations with Sputnik without registration in south Bohemia, I announce that he must find someone who will dismiss the regional governor," Kuba said.

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Governors of the Karlovy Vary, Central Bohemia, Liberec regionsalso oppose the vaccine. The EMA started the evaluation of Sputnik in March 4. The process may take several months.

Opposition offers three scenarios for relaxing restrictions

The opposition coalition Together, joining the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), Christian Democrats (KDÚ-ČSL) and TOP 09, has prepared a plan of the Czech Republic's return to normal life from the current COVID lockdown and it will pass it to the government, its leaders told journalists. The plan suggests three alternative developments: "If it goes well," "If it is getting worse" and the "Government fiasco."

The optimistic scenario suggests that as of March 29, there will be no need of the state of emergency. In roughly three-week intervals, the lockdown would be gradually relaxed, with shops and services reopening as of May 10. The medium scenario reckons with the state of emergency until April 19. In the first stage, there would still be a partial limitation of people's movement ans schools are to be still on distance learning. Under the riskiest scenario, the state of emergency is to last until May, with a major relaxation only coming just before the summer.

Highest daily death toll since November, record number of serious cases

There were 14,353 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, about 1,000 fewer than on Tuesday and last week. Currently, 8,734 people with COVID-19 are in hospitals. Some 1,916 patients are in serious condition, which is the record since the start of the pandemic, according to Health Ministry data. Some 110 people died on Wednesday, but the statistics are not complete. The daily number of deaths is the highest since November.

The PES index stayed at 73 for the third day in a row. The R number rose slightly to 0.96 from Tuesday’s 0.95. Any number under 1 means the epidemic is not in exponential growth  

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Latest COVID-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (March 11, 2021)

  • Active cases 164 268
  • New cases 14 353
  • Deaths 22 624
  • Currently hospitalized 8,734
  • PCR tests performed 5,712,810
  • Antigen tests performed 3,509,974
  • Reported vaccinations 948,144
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