Coronavirus update, Oct. 15, 2021: Czech PM announces new rules for PCR and antigen tests

Plus: Babiš finally gets third jab, quarantine time could be shortened, some people encounter trouble with Tečka app after third jab. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 15.10.2021 09:56:00 (updated on 15.10.2021) Reading time: 6 minutes

PM: PCR and antigen test validity to be reduced

The period of time during which a Covid-19 test is valid as proof of non-infectivity will be shortened. More precise PCR tests will be reduced from seven days to 72 hours and antigen tests from three days to one, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told reporters. Public health insurance covers one antigen test a week and two PCR tests a month. Chief Public Health Officer Pavla Svrčinová pointed out that the test validity was shorter in the surrounding countries. In Germany, it was cut to 24 hours for antigen tests and 48 hours for PCR tests in August, in Slovakia, it is 72 hours for PCR tests and 48 for antigen tests, and in Austria, it is the same as the ministry proposes for the Czech Republic now, she added.

PM Babiš gets third jab

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš received the third Covid vaccine yesterday at the Central Military Hospital (ÚVN) in Prague. He had delayed getting the shot twice due to exhaustion from the election campaign schedule and scheduling conflicts with media appearances. He received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for all three doses. He was also one of the first people in the Czech Republic to be vaccinated. He received the first dose at the same facility on Dec. 27, 2020, when the Czech Republic launched the vaccination campaign. On Twitter, he urged people over 60, teachers, and health care and social service workers to get a third jab. So far, over 30,000 people have had a booster shot.

Quarantine time could be shortened

The Health Ministry wants to shorten the Covid quarantine if it ended with a negative PCR test, its spokesman Daniel Köppl told ČTK. Education Minister Robert Plaga tweeted that he pushed for the quarantine to be cut from two weeks to one. The government will deal with the proposal on Monday. Plaga said he would also like to introduce targeted testing for Covid-19 in the regions with the rising infection incidence. People who were in contact with a coronavirus-infected person must be quarantined for 14 days (unless they are vaccinated).

This measure was criticized by the parents whose children had to spend two weeks in quarantine if a positive case appeared in their class. Newly, the Covid quarantine could be ended earlier with a negative PCR test, Köppl said. Chief Public Health Officer Pavla Svrčinová said the new quarantine rules could take effect on Oct. 25.

Recognition of tests might stop if pandemic worsens

If the epidemic situation further worsened, ending the recognition of antigen tests, which some countries do not use anymore, to prove absence from infection would be considered. In the case of a significant worsening, no test results, but only vaccination or having recovered from Covid in the past six months would be recognized, Chief Public Health Officer Pavla Svrčinová. "Discussions about people after the third (vaccine) dose only to be considered fully protected are being led on the European community level as well," she added. Israel introduced such demand for people arriving in the country. Svrčinová confirmed that no new blanket anti-coronavirus measures were being prepared.

Babiš invites incoming gov’t representative to talks on Covid

PM Andrej Babiš (ANO) wants to invite Vlastimil Válek (TOP 09) as a representative of the new majority in the Chamber of Deputies and a possible candidate for health minister to the Government Health Risks Council's next meeting to debate Covid, Babiš said. He said he would like to get the current opposition involved in the talks on the coronavirus epidemic now so the anti-Covid measures drafted by experts should not end with his coalition government. Babiš told reporters that he had asked Health Minister Adam Vojtěch (ANO) to contact Válek.

The potential next government parties should comment, for instance, on the proposed changes in Covid testing that should motivate people to get vaccinated, he added. It would be nonsense if the Health Ministry took some measures, the current government approved them, and the next one changed them in a few weeks, Babiš stressed. "We cannot afford this. This is why collaboration is needed," he added.

Next govt. will deal with the number of tests covered by insurance

The Government Council for Health Risks debated whether the number of tests covered by health insurance should not be lowered, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said. The next government coalition must comment on this, he added. Babiš also said that Health Minister Adam Vojtech (for ANO) would debate the issue with Vlastimil Válek (TOP 09) as a representative of the nascent government coalition with a majority in the Chamber of Deputies and a possible candidate for health minister. In total, preventive tests of people after contact with the infected and of those with Covid symptoms cost about CZK 1 billion from the public health insurance monthly, Babiš said.  

Babiš: Situation better than a year ago

The Covid epidemic is worsening, but the situation is still much better than a year ago, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told journalists after receiving the third Covid vaccine dose yesterday. The number of hospitalized is rising, Babiš said. Currently, there are over 400 Covid hospitalized, with an average age of 56. The elderly are the riskiest group. Babiš said about 341,000 seniors more should be inoculated and he asked general practitioners to help in this effort.

"We have repeatedly written to the people, but this may depend on individual persuasion of the people. General practitioners should play a key role in this. I beg all general practitioners to do their utmost and persuade their clients," Babiš said.

Babiš went on to highlight the campaign on television and radio joined by some well-known personalities.

People encounter trouble with Tečka app after third jab

People who received the third dose of Covid-19 vaccine have encountered a problem with the Tečka app, which may incorrectly show that they are not fully vaccinated. People use the app to prove they are vaccinated when they go to events or restaurants, or travel. The app may show that they are not vaccinated until 14 days after the third jab.

According to the Health Ministry, this complication can be solved by turning the “show with invalid certificates” option on. Then people should be able to choose whether to prove themselves with a certificate of completed vaccination or after the third dose. The ministry says updated versions of the app will display the booster certificate as valid from the date of vaccine administration.

New Covid cases increase 50 percent over last week

There were 1,534 new Covid cases reported for Thursday, up slightly from the previous day and up over 50 percent from 987 a week earlier. Covid hospitalizations increased to 448 with 88 in serious condition. A week earlier, there were 320 hospitalized with 68 serious cases. Two deaths were reported for Thursday, bringing the October toll to 51. The incidence number of new cases per 100,000 over seven days rose to 74 from 69 a day earlier. A week ago it was at 53. The reproduction number R rose to 1.33 from 1.26 a day earlier. Last week it was at 1.28.

For Prague, the incidence number is 90 and the R number is 1.23, In the Moravia-Silesia region, where the pandemic is worst, the incidence number is 123.

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Oct. 15, 2021)

  • New cases 1,534
  • Deaths to date 30,528
  • Currently hospitalized 448
  • Daily increase in PCR tests 26,825
  • Daily increase in antigen tests 47,995
  • Total vaccinations 11,929,980
  • Daily increase in vaccinations 10,785
  • Vaccinations completed 6,019,059
  • Total booster shots 35,142
  • New cases per 100,000 in seven days 74
  • R number 1.33
  • PES number 67
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