Coronavirus update, March 24, 2021: PES index drops to third degree after 108 days

Johnson & Johnson vaccine won't arrive in April, Prague and surroundings won’t be seen as a single district, ČSSD to back 30-day emergency extension. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 24.03.2021 09:46:00 (updated on 24.03.2021) Reading time: 5 minutes

PES index drops to third degree after 108 days

The PES index decreased to 59 points on a 0-100 scale, reaching the third out of five epidemic alert degrees after 108 days, according to Health Ministry data. Until today, the index has not been in the third degree since Dec. 5, 2020. It had been in the fourth degree since March 9. At first, the PES index, introduced as of late November, was to guide the measures against the spread of coronavirus, but its value is no longer relevant for this, while the capacity of hospitals is the main indicator now. Chief public health officer Pavla Svrčinová is currently preparing a new form of the PES system.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine won’t arrive in April

The Covid-19 vaccine from the U.S. company Johnson & Johnson will not arrive in the Czech Republic in April, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said in an interview with Frekvence 1, countering a previous statement by Health Minister Jan Blatný.

"Unfortunately, we will not get it in April, it will be nowhere and CureVac either. We will get Pfizer/BioTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca, which have lowered the number of doses. But it is a big uncertainty, it is difficult to plan," Babiš said.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine should have been delivered to the European Union as of April 16. Altogether, 3 million doses should have been sent to the EU in April, while 13 million in May and 39 million in June should have followed. The Czech Republic has ordered 2 million doses of this single-shot vaccine.

Prague and surroundings won’t be viewed as a single district

Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček has not met the request by Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib and Central Bohemia Governor that Prague and the two adjoining districts be together viewed as a single district in terms of free movement restriction, he said after consulting the Health Ministry. The two district surrounding the capital city, Prague-West and Prague-East, are a part of the Central Bohemia Region.

"According to experts, this would pose a too high risk now that the epidemic is receding and there is a hope for a quick improvement," Hamáček said.

Peckova said she accepted to decision but considered it illogical, adding that some people cannot visit nearby shops as they are on the other side of the border. Prague City Hall on Twitter said it was still not possible to go for a walk outside the city.

Teachers' priority vaccination registration ends March 28

Priority registration of Czech school employees for the Covid-19 vaccination ends on March 28, Education Minister Robert Plaga told school principals in a letter. He asked principals to give the material and special codes for vaccination registration to those who have not received them yet and have expressed interest in the vaccination against Covid-19. So far, teachers and other school employees aged over 55 should be inoculated preferentially along with those working in the still-open schools. However, other teachers have been vaccinated as well. Teachers and other school staff have been able to register for the Covid-19 vaccination since Feb. 27. As of March 22, 179,000 school employees have registered for the vaccination and 86,519 of them have already received the first vaccine dose.

ČSSD to back 30-day emergency extension

The junior government Social Democrat (ČSSD) MPs will support the cabinet's request for a 30-day extension of the state of emergency over the Covid epidemic, but they would also back a shorter prolongation if it makes sense, ČSSD deputy chairman Ondřej Veselý said. If the epidemic keeps slowing down, children might return to school as of mid-April, while shops and services might reopen in May, he said. The government will ask the Chamber of Deputies to extend the state of emergency until April 27. Otherwise, it would expire on March 28. The minority ANO-ČSSD cabinet has not managed to negotiate support for the prolongation of the state of emergency in the lower house yet.

Babiš disputes report that govt. didn’t order enough vaccines

The Czech government ordered 81.1 percent of the anti-Covid-19 vaccine doses it was entitled to from the European Commission, so the country is to be able to inoculate 44 percent of its adult population by the end of June, news server reported. Only Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia, and Latvia will have vaccines for a lower share of their population, the server stated. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš categorically rejected the information as untrue. He told Radio Z that a sufficient amount of vaccines had been ordered. Health Minister Jan Blatný tweeted that as soon as he became the minister in late October last year, he increased the supplies of the Covid vaccines. "We have eight million doses more commissioned now than last autumn, 26 million in total. Like other European countries, we are pushing on the producers to deliver the vaccines as soon as possible," he wrote.

Over 71,900 people sent to Covid quarantine in March

Over 71,900 people in the Czech Republic were sent to Covid quarantine, while nearly 66,400 people ended up in isolation with confirmed Covid-19 infection in the first three weeks in March, according to the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry. The March numbers so far are similar to those for the whole of January and of February. The reasons might be both higher sick pay for Covid infected and rapid coronavirus spread. According to the data from the Czech Social Security Administration, roughly 44,300 people were in quarantine on Monday. The so far highest figure for March was 51,900 people isolated or quarantined on March 12.

R number drops to lowest level since Jan. 19

There were 10,883 new Covid cases on Tuesday, about 3,100 less than last week. The reproduction number R dropped from 0.85 to 0.82, its lowest level since Jan. 19. The number indicates says how many people get infected from one person who tested positive for Covid on average. Healthcare professionals gave out 36,230 doses of the Covid vaccine, about 12,000 fewer than a week ago. Some 1,033,273 people now having at least one dose of the vaccine. There are currently 8,402 Covid patients in hospitals, with 1,890 hospitalized are in serious condition. Compared to the previous week, the number of hospitalized decreased by about 900 cases.

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (March 24, 2021)

  • New cases 10,883
  • Deaths 25,258
  • Currently hospitalized 8,402
  • PCR tests performed 6,078,749
  • Antigen tests performed 5,199,906
  • Reported vaccinations 1,418,114
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