Coronavirus update, Oct. 13, 2021: Czech Health Ministry drops plans for blanket testing in schools

Plus: Expert says increase in Covid cases is natural, Czech school closure was above OECD average, new cases top 1,500. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 13.10.2021 09:31:00 (updated on 13.10.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

No blanket Covid testing at Czech schools for now

The Czech Health Ministry has dropped its plan to stage another three rounds of blanket Covid-19 testing at schools, as such tests would bring no new information about the virus load in the population, ministry spokesman Daniel Köppl said. Last week, the ministry said that another three-round testing of pupils and staff could take place at schools this autumn, following the first three rounds from early September.

Köppl said the decision to withdraw the plan was made by the integrated central management team, which is an advisory body of the Government Council for Health Risks. Despite the deterioration of the epidemiological situation in some regions, the central management team did not discuss possible tightening of restrictions, not even on a local level, Köppl said.

Immunologist: Increase in coronavirus cases is natural

The increase in the number of new cases of coronavirus infection is natural because it is a seasonal virus, according to immunologist Vojtěch Thon from Masaryk University in Brno. It is important to protect several hundred thousand unvaccinated people for whom Covid-19 is a high risk because they can start filling hospitals in a serious condition, he added. According to data from the Institute of Health Information and Statistics (ÚZIS), there are still about 400,000 people over the age of 60 who have not been vaccinated or have no record of infection.

"It's natural. The new coronavirus is gradually becoming a seasonal virus. It won't be uncommon for it to be here and grow in the fall and winter seasons. And if we test, we'll catch it," Thon said.

According to the ÚZIS's predictions, at the end of October, at the current rate of the spread of the virus, there will be about 2,000 new cases a day and about 500 hospitalized.  

Czech school’s Covid closure above OECD average

The Czech Republic is among the EU countries with the longest school closures declared over the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and the time Czech students spent on remote education was slightly above the average in the OECD countries, a document released by the Czech Education Ministry states. Children over 12 had more than half of their lessons between March 2020 and June 2021 online. Compulsory pre-school kindergarten classes shifted online for 28 days, while the first five grades of primary schools were online for 94 days and the rest of primary schools for 141 days. Secondary schools gave online lessons for 155 days, vocational schools for 133, and universities for 145 days. The regular school year takes 196 days, the ministry noted.

For 2020, the Czech Republic falls into the one-third of the OECD countries that closed their schools for a longer time, the ministry said. The OECD average equals some 55 days for primary schools and 65 days for secondary schools. Sweden did not close its primary schools over the epidemic at all and many countries, such as France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Portugal and Spain opted for a shorter closure than the Czech Republic. In contrast, Slovenia and Poland kept their students on remote education for longer than in the Czech Republic.

Czechs and Slovaks more critical of anti-pandemic measures

Czechs and Slovaks are far more critical of anti-pandemic measures than, for example, Germans, according to joint research by scientists from the Institute of Psychology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, the Faculty of Social Studies at Masaryk University, and Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany. Unlike respondents from Germany, respondents from the Czech Republic and Slovakia generally did not consider the implemented anti-pandemic measures to be well-justified. The interviewers also found an interesting trend in the answers of the population living in the area of former East Germany. They consistently leaned toward the critical attitudes of Czechs and Slovaks.

Brno hospital bans visits

The Military Hospital in Brno (VNB) has banned public visits until further notice due to the number of patients with Covid-19, hospital director Martin Stračár announced. The measure is preventive. Stračár said the situation with the Covid in Brno is deteriorating. "We have patients for routine surgery, so it wouldn't be good for them to become infected," he said. The Boskovice Hospital has also banned visits. Of the South Moravian regional hospitals, the Ivančice Hospital has forbidden visits, a regional spokeswoman said.

New Covid cases top 1,500

There were 1,511 new Covid cases reported for Tuesday, up from 1,108 a day earlier. It was also higher than Monday’s figure and again the highest since May 11. Hospitalizations dropped slightly to 388 from a revised 390 for the previous day. Last week, 297 people were hospitalized. Currently, 78 people are in serious condition. Two deaths were reported for Tuesday, bringing the October toll to 40. The incidence number of new cases per 100,000 over seven days rose to 65 from 61 a day earlier. A week ago it was at 49. The reproduction number R rose to 1.23 from 1.17 a day earlier. Last week it was at 1.33. For Prague, the incidence number is 80 and the R number is 1.16. The pandemic is worst in the Moravia-Silesia region, with an incidence number of 111.

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Oct. 13, 2021)

  • New cases 1,511
  • Deaths to date 30,518
  • Currently hospitalized 388
  • Daily increase in PCR tests 23,074
  • Daily increase in antigen tests 30,676
  • Total vaccinations 11,907,024
  • Daily increase in vaccinations 8,188
  • Vaccinations completed 6,009,926
  • Total booster shots 26,434
  • New cases per 100,000 in seven days 65
  • R number 1.23
  • PES number 58
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