Coronavirus update, Oct. 18, 2021: Booster shots now available six months from last dose

Plus: Experts for school Covid testing in some districts, PM says ÚKS should continue to operate, most new cases for a Sunday since April.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 18.10.2021 09:52 (updated on 18.10.2021) Reading time: 5 minutes

Booster shot now available after six months

From today, people will be able to receive a booster dose of Covid-19 vaccination six months after the last dose. So far, the minimum interval has been eight months. People who are entitled to the third dose will receive an SMS message. By the end of October, over 1 million people in the Czech Republic will be entitled to a booster. This will increase to 3.2 million at the end of the year.

The shortening of the interval was recommended by experts from the Vaccinological Society and a clinical group of the Ministry of Health. Health Minister Adam Vojtěch tweeted the change on Oct. 7. Revaccination after six months with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for people over 18 years old has also been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Experts support Covid testing in some school districts

The MeSES expert group led by epidemiologist Petr Smejkal has recommended that Covid testing be introduced in schools in districts with over 100 new infections per 100,000 population in the past week and that the tests apply only to pupils who are neither vaccinated nor have undergone Covid in the past six months. The MeSES team presented their proposal in their position paper on the autumn development of the Covid-19 epidemic. An approach similar to that of schools should be taken by businesses but only where the weekly incidence rate exceeds 200, they suggested. Vaccination, including the booster shot, blanket testing in stronger-afflicted districts, and consistent observance of current coronavirus restrictions are enough to curb the increase in the number of new Covid cases and hospitalizations, MeSES stated.

"We do not recommend any introduction of essential restrictions. However, it would be a mistake to believe that if we don't close stores or schools, nothing else can be done," Smejkal wrote.

"It is pointless to ponder introducing restrictive packages similar to the spring ones, such as the introduction of the same measures and their relaxation amid certain epidemiological conditions. We mainly recommend current and cheap measures: vaccination, testing, and better checks," Smejkal wrote.

PM: Central Crisis Staff should continue to operate

The Central Crisis Staff (ÚKS), which the cabinet reactivated over the coronavirus pandemic wave in September 2020, should continue operating in its current regime, meeting once a month, PM Andrej Babiš has told ČTK. The Babiš cabinet activated the ÚKS shortly after the epidemic outbreak in March 2020, with epidemiologist and later health minister Roman Prymula at its helm. After two weeks, the ÚKS leadership went to Deputy PM and Interior Minister Jan Hamáček. The ÚKS ended its operation on June 11. It was reactivated on Sept. 21, 2020, amid the epidemic resurgence, and has remained activated since. The ÚKS last met on Oct. 6. Its next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 3.

Hungary, Finland darken to high-risk red on latest Covid travel map

Travelers without proof of vaccination or recovery coming from Finland, Hungary, and Luxembourg to the Czech Republic will face tightened restrictions as of today. These countries will move from medium-risk orange to high-risk red on the latest Czech Covid-19 travel map released by the Health Ministry. Going the other way, travel from Switzerland to the Czech Republic will be easier for those without proof of vaccination or recovery, as the country will move from red to orange on the latest map. The Czech Health Ministry updates its map every week based on data provided by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Read our full story here.

Covid quarantine could end after seven days

The Health Ministry will propose that quarantine might be finished by a negative test after seven days for those in contact with coronavirus infected, Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch told journalists Friday. Currently, those in quarantine must remain isolated for two weeks. Vojtěch did not say when the change would take effect. The ministry already suggested the change on Wednesday, after a meeting of the Government Council on Health Risks Council. Vojtěch said he would consult with the future coalition government on the measure.

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.

Worldwide coronavirus infections reach 240 million

The number of coronavirus infections worldwide has exceeded 240 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has held the lead in the absolute number of infections since last March, where the total number of people infected since the beginning of the pandemic is 44.8 million. India is second with 34.1 million, and Brazil is third with 21.6 million. In Europe, the most infected in absolute numbers were found in Britain, with 8.4 million. The rate of increase in the number of infected people has now slowed slightly. For the last 10 million to be infected took 23 days, before that it was 19 days, twice in a row it took 15 days, and prior to that, it was 18 and 23 days.

Most new cases for a Sunday since April

There were 787 Covid cases reported for Sunday, which is the highest Sunday increase since the end of April, and more than double the 336 cases reported a week earlier. The number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 rose to 463, with 86 in serious condition. A week earlier is was 342 hospitalized, with 60 in serious condition. Five deaths were reported for Sunday. In the past seven days, 44 Covid patients have died, compared to 26 in the previous week. The toll for October is 76.

The incidence number of new cases per 100,000 people over seven days rose to 90 from 86 the previous day. A week earlier it was 56. The reproduction number R was not updated, but for Oct. 17 it was 1.41. For Prague, the incidence number was 105. In the Moravia-Silesia region, where the pandemic is worst, the incidence number is 150.

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Oct. 18, 2021)

  • New cases 787
  • Deaths to date 30,554
  • Currently hospitalized 463
  • Daily increase in PCR tests 9,735
  • Daily increase in antigen tests 22,212
  • Total vaccinations 11,951,190
  • Daily increase in vaccinations 2,002
  • Vaccinations completed 6,027,765
  • Total booster shots 42,318
  • New cases per 100,000 in seven days 90
  • R number 1.41 (not updated)
  • PES number 70 (not updated)
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