Coronavirus update, March 16, 2021: city plans to open vaccination point at Prague Congress Center

No significant easing of rules planned for Easter, govt. approves antigen testing for small firms, Prague mayor complains about unused vaccines. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 16.03.2021 09:46:00 (updated on 16.03.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

Vaccinations to start at Prague Congress Center

Prague City Hall plans to launch a large-scale vaccination place in the Prague Congress Center. It will vaccinate 200 people a day during its first week of operation and 1,000 people a day afterward.

“We will demand a minimum of 7,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines a week from the state, and we can gradually reach 14,000 doses a week. This will also solve the problem of accumulating vaccines in state vaccination centers,” Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib said.

The launch of the large-scale vaccination point still needs to be approved by the Prague City Assembly. If they approve the plan on Thursday, the vaccination point will start operating as of Monday. Its operation will cost the city CZK 11.3 million in the first six months. This site is in addition to the planned high-capacity vaccination center in O2 Universum, which will start working on April 11.

Prague mayor criticizes PM Babiš over vaccine stockpile

Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib again criticized the state for allowing for 33,528 Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine doses to be left unused in depositories in Prague, twice as many as last Monday. Hřib said the number of those daily vaccinated in Prague, where the state is responsible for it, has been stagnating since January but has been rising in other regions that have been managing vaccinations on their own. “I call again on the Prime Minister [Andrej Babiš] to ensure that the vaccinates are used quickly in Prague or delivered to other regions,” Hřib said on Twitter.

Blatný to ask govt. to extend state of emergency

Health Minister Jan Blatný will ask the government to extend the state of emergency in order to prevent the recurrence of the situation that happened after Christmas when the number of new COVID cases rose due to a too early relaxation of lockdown measures, he said. The current state of emergency will last until March 28 and if the government wants to extend it, the Chamber of Deputies will have to approve the extension.  

Blatný: No easing of movement between districts for Easter

None of the strictest lockdown measures that were introduced on March 1 would be loosened after March 21, according to Health Minister Jan Blatný.

"I certainly will not recommend the loosening of the measures banning movement among districts, even in respect to the Easter holidays," he said.

Blatný said it might be possible to allow people to do free-time activities in their whole district. Currently, people are obliged to remain in the territory of their municipality. He said the government will meet to discuss the anti-epidemiological measures again on Thursday. Blatný said the lockdown is clearly effective and it prevented a further rise in the daily number of the newly infected.

Govt. approves testing for small companies

Mandatory antigen testing will apply to companies with 10 to 49 employees as of March 19, and the first round of testing must be completed by March 26 at the latest, Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlíček said. The government approved it at Monday’s meeting. The government also intends to introduce an obligation for testing at civil service offices with up to 50 employees, the government will discuss this at its next meeting on Thursday. The government has not yet decided to increase the frequency of testing to twice a week and is still negotiating with professional organizations.


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Ministry: social workers should get preferential vaccination

The Czech Labor and Social Affairs Ministry is negotiating with the Health Ministry about the possible granting of the COVID vaccination priority group status to the social workers who visit seniors and disabled clients at home, Labour Minister Jana Maláčová said, adding she is ready to accept the prioritizing of only older categories of such workers. There are 19,000 of them aged over 50. The only difference between the staff of social care facilities, who are among the prioritized groups, and the terrain carers is that the latter visit their clients at home.  

Officers contact 75 percent of infected in 24 hours

Czech public health officers contacted about three-fourths of the people infected with COVID-19 and two-thirds of their risk contacts within 24 hours in March, which is a smaller part than in February and similar to January, the Smart Quarantine data showed. Nearly 2,000 people took part in the contact tracing in March, both public health officers and employees of professional call centers. People reported fewer contacts than before to them. In the past month, it was one contact per one positively tested person on average and last week the average was about 0.8 contact per infected person.

AstraZeneca vaccine won’t be suspended

The Czech Republic, unlike some other EU states, is not going to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca anti-COVID vaccine application since no connection between it and the incidence of blood clots has been proved, Health Minister Jan Blatný said after yesterday’s cabinet meeting. He said blood clots occur equally often in the vaccinated and not vaccinated population.

"No causal connection of the undesired effects with the vaccine application has been proved for the time being. The number of the incidents correspond to what is usual in a broad population," Blatný said.

Last week, the AstraZeneca company said it would cut its March supplies to the EU. Blatný said the country will receive 120,000 doses instead of the expected 200,000 in March.

Lowest Monday increase of new cases in a month

There were 10,511 new COVID cases on Monday, some 130 fewer than a week ago. This is the lowest Monday increase since mid-February. The number of hospitalized patients has increased to 8,939, of which 1,993 are in severe condition. The reproduction number remained at 0.94, meaning the virus is not spreading with exponential growth. The PES index was at 71 for the third day.

Latest COVID-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (March 16, 2021)

  • New cases 10.511
  • Deaths 23,657
  • Currently hospitalized 8,939
  • PCR tests performed 5,854,078
  • Antigen tests performed 4,077,647
  • Reported vaccinations 1,119,663
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