Coronavirus update, Oct. 20, 2021: Czech health minister wants masks back on at work

Plus: SPOLU critical of outgoing gov’t on Covid, other viruses are starting to spread again, Covid numbers take another big jump.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 20.10.2021 09:55 (updated on 20.10.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

Vojtěch proposes restaurants checks and respirators at work

Health Minister Adam Vojtěch will propose that restaurants must ask customers for proof of negative Covid test or vaccination, news server iDnes reported. Due to the unfavorable development of the coronavirus epidemic, the ministry will also suggest requiring respirators in the workplace.

"We would return to the situation in the spring, when respirators were mandatory even within work teams, where this obligation does not now exist," Vojtěch said.

According to Vojtěch, the number of outbreaks in workplaces is increasing. Currently, respirators are mandatory in shops, services, public transport, or at cultural or sporting events. According to Vojtěch, the restaurant measure is being discussed with hospitality representatives and is also supported by the Chamber of Commerce.

SPOLU critical of outgoing gov’t on Covid

The SPOLU alliance's Covid experts said the Babiš government is unprepared to tackle the resurging epidemic. The outgoing cabinet has failed to prepare necessary measures, nor has it provided the relevant data to the opposition, SPOLU's AntiCovid team told journalists. Babiš said that Vlastimil Válek (TOP 09), a representative of the nascent new government coalition of SPOLU and Pirates/STAN, whom some mention as a possible candidate for the new health minister, did not react to Babiš's request for comment on the government-proposed measures. Health Minister Adam Vojtěch (ANO) said on Twitter that SPOLU’s AntiCovid experts have had the ministry's crisis scenarios at their disposal since Thursday.

Dušek: Covid developing according to risk scenario

Judging by the number of new cases, the coronavirus epidemic started developing on Monday according to the risk scenario of the Institute of Health Information and Statistics (ÚZIS), its director Ladislav Dušek told journalists. The risk scenario is the middle case of three possible developments. He said according to the scenario there would be 1,200 Covid hospitalized in intensive care wards in early November. On Tuesday, another 3,200 people tested positive for the epidemic. In a week, the figure may surge to about 4,000, he added. Dušek said on Friday although the numbers of new cases and hospitalized were rising, they were still roughly five times lower than a year ago.

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Other viruses are starting to spread again

According to experts, the last flu epidemic, which was expected at the beginning of this year, was practically stopped thanks to the wearing of masks and respirators. The decrease in cases was about 95 percent. Now, in the autumn, other acute respiratory infections have become more widespread, especially among the youngest children. This follows from data from the State Institute of Public Health (SZÚ). Masks stopped the spread of flu and most other viruses, molecular biologist Marián Hajdúch said.

"We warned that these diseases will return when we remove respiratory protection because immunity to respiratory viruses is not permanent," Hajdúch said.

Immunologist Václav Hořejší said that the closure of schools had a greater effect on children, who had not been in contact for a long time and had not been exposed to common viruses.

Metro: People upset that mask rules are not enforced

People have been writing into daily newspaper Metro to complain that nothing is being done about people not wearing face coverings in public transit. Police spokespersons countered that police were still enforcing the rules. In September, Czech Police officers dealt with 1,169 offenses in connection with not having airways covered in public transport. Of this number, eight offenses were resolved by notifying the administrative body, two offenses were resolved by imposing a fine and the rest were resolved by agreement, Czech Police spokeswoman Irena Seifertová told Metro. The Prague Police also deal with similar cases, but no longer record specific numbers, Prague Police spokeswoman Eva Kropáčová said.

Covid spreading twice as fast as a week ago

There were 3,246 new Covid cases reported for Tuesday, more than double the 1,507 from a week ago. It was the highest number since April 20. The number of hospitalized people also rose, reaching 620 with 102 in serious condition. A week ago it was at 435, with 87 serious cases. One death was reported, but previous figures were updated with Oct. 17 and 18 both now having 10 each. The toll for October is now 95. In the past seven days, 51 people with Covid-19 have died, compared to 44 in all of September.

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The incidence number of new cases per 100,000 over seven days rose to 117 from 101 a day earlier. A week ago it was at 65. The reproduction number R rose to 1.59. For Prague, the incidence number is 133. In the Moravia-Silesia region, where the pandemic is worst, the incidence number is 196.

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Oct. 20, 2021)

  • New cases 3,246
  • Deaths to date 30,574
  • Currently hospitalized 620
  • Daily increase in PCR tests 32,040
  • Daily increase in antigen tests 34,339
  • Total vaccinations 11,979,814
  • Daily increase in vaccinations 13,870
  • Vaccinations completed 6,034,002
  • Total booster shots 59,185
  • New cases per 100,000 in seven days 117
  • R number 1.59
  • PES number 45
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