Coronavirus update, March 29, 2021: Brno laboratory discovers new coronavirus mutation

Health officials say restrictions won't ease until emergency state ends, warn people not to gather for Easter; March death toll exceeds 5,000. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 29.03.2021 09:30:00 (updated on 29.03.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

Brno laboratory discovers coronavirus mutation

The Elisabeth Pharmacon laboratory in Brno has discovered a not yet described coronavirus mutation thanks to the sequencing of Covid-19 patients' samples, but it should not affect the bond of either antidotes or cell receptors, laboratory director Omar Šerý tweeted. This is a mutation of the spike protein on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The current vaccines are aimed exactly against it. The Elisabeth Pharmacon laboratory commonly uses sequencing analysis. In late February, it detected the spread of the South African coronavirus mutation in a Brno kindergarten.

Blatný: restrictions to be in force until state of emergency ends

All the current anti-epidemic restrictions should be valid in the Czech Republic until the end of the state of emergency, which was declared until at least April 11, Health Minister Jan Blatný said on Czech Television. The observance of the lockdown rules should also be checked, he added "The presupposed school reopening as of April 12, which I consider the nearest possible date, and all other steps presume that the same measures be observed at least until then," Blatný said.

"The state of emergency as long as the Chamber of Deputies approved it must last with all measures," Blatný stressed.

Besides, he will demand that the restricted movement between districts be valid and checked during Easter as well.

Smejkal: People should not get together for Easter

The possible relaxation of existing anti-coronavirus measures after Easter will depend on how people follow the measures. The situation would worsen and the number of infected would increase again if people gathered at Easter, epidemiologist Petr Smejkal, who leads the Interdisciplinary Group for Epidemic Situations (MeSES), said on Prima TV.

"The worst thing would be if everyone went somewhere with Easter whips and got together. We will have to forgive ourselves this year," Smejkal said.

On the contrary, he said that it could be positive for managing the epidemic that many companies will reduce traffic during the spring holidays. Reducing the presence of employees in the workplace could help to slow down the spread of the virus in the population.

Blatný: vaccine interval may be prolonged

The interval between the application of the first and second dose of the vaccine against Covid-19, mainly that from Pfizer/BioNTech, may be prolonged, Health Minister Jan Blatný said in a debate on public Czech Television. He added that his ministry supported this change and that the Government Council for Health Risks should make decision on this issue on Tuesday. For Pfizer/BioNTech, the interval between doses is 21 days, while for Moderna it is 28 days. Newly, the interval should be 38 to 42 days, Blatný said. The protection of a vaccinated person from the Covid-19 virus gradually approaches 80 percent two weeks after the first vaccine dose.

Govt. may decide on shorter interval for corporate testing

The government may on Monday decide on a shorter interval between the antigen tests for Covid-19 in firms from once a week to once in five days, Health Minister Jan Blatný said on Czech Television. However, he did not elaborate on when the more frequent tests might become obligatory. Large firms may have problems with more frequent testing due to logistics, Blatný added. Last week, the government also approved the mandatory Covid testing for firms with up to 10 employees, non-profit organizations and sole traders that must complete the first testing round by April 6.

School principals asked how many Covid tests they need

The Education Ministry of Education has asked school principals to indicate how many antigen tests for Covid-19 they will need to ensure testing in schools. Principals should enter the required number of tests in the central register by April 1, the Education Ministry said in a press release. Pupils could return to school gradually from April 12. According to Education Minister of Education Robert Plaga the date of the beginning of the return of children to school will be debated at the beginning of the week.  

March has the most Covid-19 deaths so far

a faithful dog sits at the Covid memorial at Old Town Square. (Photo: Raymond Johnston)
a faithful dog sits at the Covid memorial at Old Town Square. (Photo: Raymond Johnston)

The number of Covid-19 deaths in the Czech Republic has reached 26,036 since the epidemic outbreak a year ago, while March with 5,232 victims has had the most deaths of any month, show the Health Ministry data released today. On the other hand, the daily numbers of confirmed infections have been dropping. On Sunday, 1,722 new COVID-19 cases were reported, which was the lowest daily figure since Dec. 6 and 666 fewer than a week ago. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has been decreasing, too. On Sunday, 7,188 coronavirus patients were hospitalized, with 1,727 in serious condition. The number of hospitalizations dropped by 1,140 compared to the previous Sunday. The PES index remains at 59 points on the second day. The reproduction number R showing the rate of spread of the disease rose by three hundredths to 0.83.

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (March 29, 2021)

  • New cases 1,722
  • Deaths 26,036
  • Currently hospitalized 7,188
  • PCR tests performed 6,180,990
  • Antigen tests performed 5,847,977
  • Reported vaccinations 1,572,181
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