Coronavirus update, March 23, 2021: COVID death toll crosses 25,000

Govt. to ask for 30-day extension of state of emergency, firms with up to 10 people to test for COVID, police to check on quarantine observance. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 23.03.2021 09:33:00 (updated on 23.03.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

Govt. to ask for 30-day extension of state of emergency

The Czech government will ask the Chamber of Deputies for a 30-day extension of the current state of emergency that expires on March 28, Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček told the Czech News Agency (ČTK). The cabinet has not managed to negotiate support for the prolongation in the lower house yet. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš wants to negotiate with the opposition about the extension on Wednesday. Hamáček warned against marked relaxation of the anti-epidemic measures, and said he believed the lower house and the government would strike a deal.

Firms with up to 10 people to secure COVID tests as of April 6

The Czech government approved mandatory COVID testing for firms with up to 10 employees and sole traders meeting other persons at work as of April 6, Finance Minister Alena Schillerová tweeted. "Blanket testing along with vaccination are our main tickets back to the normal life," she stressed. Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlíček told a press conference after the government meeting that all small companies and the self-employed would have to carry out the first COVID tests by this date at the latest. This would also apply to employees of non-profit organizations. Checks of the COVID testing of the self-employed will be carried out at random. They will have to submit, for instance, an invoice proving they have purchased the tests or a certificate that they do not meet anyone else at work and that they work from home, meeting only their family members there, Havlíček added.

Police to check COVID quarantine, isolation observance

Czech Police along with public health officers will check the observance of the COVID quarantine and isolation, Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček and Health Minister Jan Blatný told reporters after yesterday’s cabinet meeting.

"The police will get the lists from the regional public health stations and carry out intensive checks," Hamáček said.

Spread of an infectious disease is classified as a crime. He said a similar agreement between the police and public health offices should have worked in the spring, during the first coronavirus epidemic wave already, but there was a problem with the Office for Personal Data Protection. That has now been been resolved, he added.

Health Ministry not changing its stance on ivermektin

The Health Ministry has not changed its position on the drug ivermektin, which it approved as an experimental treatment of COVID-19 this month, ministry spokeswoman Barbora Peterová said. She reacted to yesterday’s statement by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that did not recommend ivermektin for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19. The Czech State Drugs Control Institute (SÚKL) reiterated that there was insufficient data for the use of ivermektin in the COVID-19 treatment. If doctors prescribe the drug, they should take this into account, the SÚKL writes on its website.

Babiš: Industry lockdown depends on unions, employers

A possible closure of industrial plants for a few days adjoining the Easter holidays must be debated with the Tripartite, a body comprising representatives of the cabinet, unions and employers, which should have the final say, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) said. The industry lockdown around Easter may be recommended to the cabinet by its Council for Health Risks. One of its members, epidemiologist Petr Smejkal, said on Sunday that the step would significantly reduce the number of new COVID-19 infections. Babiš, though, mentioned the unfavorable impact the lockdown would have on companies and the state budget. He said that industrial companies have been performing mass in-site testing of employees, a duty imposed on them by the cabinet.

Blatný predicts drop in hospitalizations by late April

Some 3,000 people suffering from COVID-19 may be hospitalized in the Czech Republic at the end of April, 500 of whom may be in a serious condition at intensive care units, Health Minister Jan Blatný told journalists. Models are saying that some 4,000 new coronavirus cases may be newly recorded daily. Last week, there were another 10,000 to 14,000 new cases a day. Right now, there are over 8,000 Czechs hospitalized with COVID. The pace of the vaccination might surge to 60,000 to 70,000 vaccine doses a day this week. Currently, there are no vaccines for more, Blatný said. "This does not mean that we do not want or cannot do more," he added.

Hamáček: Ban on trips outside districts is working

Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček said the epidemic measures, banning the trips outside the district of the place of residence were well-working.

"The situation has most improved in the districts in which we imposed the ban as the first. After the district lockdown was imposed, the new wave did not reach Moravia with full intensity," Hamáček said.

The ban on moving between districts took effect in early March. There are the exceptions for the trips to work or doctors. Also, there is the duty to wear respirators inside buildings and in most outer spaces. All schools, including kindergartens, are also closed.

COVID death toll passes 25,000 mark

Some 25,055 people in the Czech Republic have died with a proven case of COVID-19 since the beginning of the epidemic, and more than half of those deaths occurred this year. The last 1,000 deaths occurred in seven days. But the pace of the pandemic is slowing. There were 8,167 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, almost 2,500 fewer than last Monday. It is the smallest weekday increase since the beginning of February. The reproduction number R is at its lowest value since the end of January. It fell from 0.857 to 0.853, according to data on the website of the Ministry of Health. The PES index was at 64, dropping from 68 where it had been for three days. Over 1 million people have had one vaccine shot, and over 370,00 have had two shots, for a total of 1,378,657.

Latest COVID-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (March 23, 2021)

  • New cases 8,167
  • Deaths 25,055
  • Currently hospitalized 8,545
  • PCR tests performed 6,044,574
  • Antigen tests performed 5,007,183
  • Reported vaccinations 1,378,657
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