Coronavirus update, May 26, 2021: Vojtěch returns to 'calm the situation' and resolve the Covid pandemic

Plus: PM says Czech Republic should acknowledge foreign vaccinations, children 12 and older may be vaccinated as soon as the EMA approves it.

Expats.cz

Written by Expats.cz
Published on 26.05.2021 09:36 (updated on 26.05.2021)

Vojtěch accepts PM's offer to become health minister again

Adam Vojtěch, 34, has accepted Prime Minister Andrej Babiš's offer to become the health minister again, Vojtěch tweeted last night. He also said he would like to focus on the final tackling of the Covid epidemic and bills for patients. Vojtěch will replace Petr Arenberger, 62, who faced criticism for incomplete information about his property.

"I have accepted the prime minister's offer and return to the Health Ministry until the end of the election term," Vojtěch said.

President Miloš Zeman said on Tuesday afternoon that he agreed with naming Vojtěch as the new Czech health minister and would sign his appointment decree on Wednesday. Vojtěch will be inaugurated then. Babiš said Vojtěch would not be appointed at a traditional ceremony, but that he would just receive his appointment decree. Vojtěch was named health minister in Babiš's first cabinet in December 2017 and then in Babiš's second government, appointed in June 2018. He stepped down last September, citing the enormous burden in the health sector amid the coronavirus pandemic as the reason. After leaving the government, Vojtěch worked for regional health company Krajská zdravotní.

Babiš: Czech Republic should acknowledge foreign vaccinations

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said the Czech Republic should acknowledge vaccines applied to people abroad. In Brussels, the heads of state and government at a two-day EU summit debated the possibilities of acknowledging the vaccines applied to people in countries outside the EU, such as the U.S., for example. According to Babiš, the practice of the Czech authorities not acknowledging the vaccination of some Czechs with an EMA-approved vaccine must stop. "I find this absurd," Babiš said. Babiš said he would discuss the problem with the health minister.

Lower house against Covid passports being debated in fast regime

The Czech Chamber of Deputies refused to confirm the continuation of the state of legislative emergency that would have enabled it to deal with the government bill in a sped-up regime on the issuing certificates on anti-Covid vaccination, negative test, or having undergone Covid infection. The bill was criticized by the opposition, which said the authorities might make the certificate a condition for people's participation in public as well as private events and for their entry to various facilities. People would have to produce their certificates to organizers, operators, or authorized persons. Chamber of Deputies chairman Radek Vondráček said the lower house health committee has proposed that a plenary session take a vote on the bill by mid-June at the latest. That is why the time has come to discuss and possibly modify the bill. The rejection of the state of legislative emergency would mean that the Chamber of Deputies can start debating the bill only after a 10-day deadline expires. The EU is expected to issue Covid passports in July, and the Czech government is working on its own version.

Over 7 million now eligible for vaccination

As of today, over 7 million people in the Czech Republic can apply for vaccination against Covid-19 based on age alone. At midnight, registration was officially launched for people aged 30 to 34, of whom there are over 722,000. However, according to the findings of ČTK, it was possible to register an hour earlier. About 66,000 of them have already received at least one dose of the vaccine, as they could preferably be vaccinated by health professionals, teachers, and other selected professions or the chronically ill. As of June 1, people over the age of 16 could start reporting. Vaccines are currently not approved for people under 16.

Czech Republic might offer vaccination to children soon

The Czech Republic might offer vaccination against Covid-19 also to children aged 12 and up in the nearest weeks, on condition the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for this age category is approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) by the end og May, as expected, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told journalists. In the Czech Republic, children's vaccination may be available shortly after the June 1 opening of the vaccination registration system to people aged from 16 to 29, he said.

"Of course, it would be fine if those who seek vaccination – let's hope there will be as many of them as possible – managed it by Sept. 1," Babiš said.

Sept. 1 is the beginning of the new school year following two-month summer holidays.

No singing in school

Restrictions on singing in music lessons continue to apply in schools. It is allowed only in kindergartens or art-oriented fields. The new rules for choirs, which will be able to sing together from May 31 with the participation of 30 people, will not apply to schools, according to information sent by the Ministry of Education to school principals. The material was provided by ministry spokeswoman Aneta Lednová.

New Covid cases almost half last Tuesday’s number

There were another 658 Covid cases on Tuesday, the smallest number on a workday since Sept. 7, 2020, in the Czech Republic, according to the data the Health Ministry released this morning. Last Tuesday, there were about 1,200 new confirmed cases. Since early March, when the epidemic came to a head with almost 17,000 cases a day, the number has been gradually diminishing. The daily number of deaths is also considerably decreasing. In early May, there were around 40 of them a day, but in the past week never over 20. The national reproduction number, showing the speed of the epidemic spread, fell to 0.70 from 0.73 on Tuesday.

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (May 26, 2021)

  • New cases 658
  • Deaths 30 054
  • Currently hospitalized 741
  • PCR tests performed 7,201,522
  • Antigen tests performed 16,310,022
  • Total vaccinations 4,822,177
  • Daily increase in vaccinations 80,083
  • People who have completed vaccination 1,280,542
  • New cases per 100,000 in seven days 43
  • PES index 37
  • R number 0.70
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