Coronavirus update, March 5, 2021: PM Babiš says restrictions unlikely to ease anytime soon

Czech Republic still worst in EU in new COVID cases, antigen testing starts in medium-size firms, government to discuss mandatory home office.

Expats.cz

Written by Expats.cz
Published on 05.03.2021 09:41 (updated on 05.03.2021)

Czech Republic still worst in EU in new COVID cases

The Czech Republic is the worst in the EU when it comes to new COVID cases in the past 14 days and also has the second-highest death toll, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The Czech Republic had 1,395 new cases per 100,000 people, up from 1,120 a week ago. Estonia was in second place with 1,038 cases (703 a week ago) and Slovakia was third with 561, (526 a week ago). The biggest death toll over the past two weeks, roughly 241 per 1 million population, was recorded by Slovakia (239 a week ago), followed by the Czech Republic (208, a week ago 187).

Babiš: Anti-epidemic restrictions won’t be lifted soon

People should not count on any relaxation of the anti-COVID measures, as the current situation does not allow it, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said. During regular question time in the Chamber of Deputies, Pirate MP Martin Jiránek asked about the government plans after the current three-week lockdown ends.

"We are certainly not going to relax, there is no reason for that," Babiš said.

He wants the life in the Czech Republic to return to normal as soon as possible, but first, the number of the infected and hospitalized with COVID-19 must be reduced. "I do not want to promise really anything, because we promised many times. I do not want to give any prediction either," Babiš said. "We need to relieve the Czech healthcare system. We will react accordingly to the development," he added.

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Midsize companies start antigen testing

Companies with 50 to 249 employees should start antigen testing today, and employees are obliged to undergo tests. Midsize companies must complete testing for all employees by March 15. The Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček recommends antigen testing performed by a company or external doctor, or by mobile medical teams. In this case, testing is fully covered by health insurance. Self-testing through approved tests is also allowed, and in this case the state contributes CZK 60 per test through health insurance benefits. Mandatory testing of employees is required once a week. Companies with more than 250 employees began testing on Wednesday.  

Government to discuss compulsory home office

The introduction of compulsory work from home will likely be approved by the government at an extraordinary meeting today. "It is probably clear that the home office cannot concern a worker on an assembly line. The group concerned is the administrative staff. We need to discuss whether there are people in this group who are key to the running of the company," Interior Minister Jan Hamáček said.

Health Ministry preparing work duty for students

The Health Ministry is preparing to impose work duty in hospitals on students of some secondary schools and universities, Health Minister Jan Blatný said. He agreed on that with heads of universities and the Education Ministry, he added. The government will discuss it today. So far, the government has imposed work duty on students twice during the coronavirus epidemic. It involved mainly as medical assistants. The first duty lasted roughly two months from mid-March last year, the second ended in December after two months, too.

Firefighters distribute respirators to food banks

Firefighters yesterday distributed respirators to 15 food banks across the Czech Republic that will further pass them on regions and organizations to offer them to people in material deprivation. The food banks will start distributing the equipment to regions and NGOs today. On Wednesday, firefighters distributed 265,000 respirators and 167,000 face masks for the workers and residents of children-in-need care facilities. On Monday, the cabinet earmarked 3 million respirators and 170,000 face masks from the state reserves for this purpose.

First case of a minor dying fron COVID reported

For the first time in the Czech Republic, a child under the age of 15 died with a COVID infection. According to statistics from the website of the Ministry of Health, it was an eight-year-old girl from the Plzeň-sever district who died Feb. 22. No further details have been released due to privacy concerns. A previous case of a death of a minor in the Moravia-Silesia region was reported in November, but later deleted as it was a mistake.

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Pharmacies selling COVID self-test kits

Czech pharmacies have started selling home self-test kits for coronavirus that do not require medical personnel, according to the Czech New Agency (ČTK). In late February, Pilulka pharmacy chains started selling lollipop self-test that became very popular in Austria. Dr.Max pharmacies have been selling self-tests from JoysBio, SafeCare and NewGene. Newly, the Lepu Medical swab test is available, as well as lollipop test V-Chek. The Benu chain of pharmacies announced yesterday it started selling Swiss rapid self-test Lomina A.G. which detects antibodies in blood. The result is known in five minutes and the test kit contains an illustrated user guide.  

COVID spread slightly slowing down

Another 14,554 COVID cases were detected on Thursday in the Czech Republic, a drop from Tuesday and Wednesday as well as 28 fewer than a week ago, according to the data released by the Health Ministry today. Nevertheless, Thursday saw the 15th biggest daily increase since the outbreak. There were 8,153 COVID patients in hospital, 261 fewer than on Wednesday, but 700 more than a week ago. Of them, 1,735 were in serious condition.

The reproduction number R fell to 1.045, the lowest over the past 18 days. The PES index was at 76 for the third day in a row.

Latest COVID-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (March 5, 2021)

  • Active cases 162,505
  • New cases 14,554
  • Deaths 21,325
  • Currently hospitalized 8,153
  • PCR tests performed 5,524,412
  • Antigen tests performed 2,985,745
  • Reported vaccinations 771,223