Coronavirus update, Oct. 4, 2021: Czech Health Ministry to discuss tightening anti-Covid measures

Plus: Prague Castle visitation down 80 percent, last two Prague walk-in centers to close, LN says parents should consider vaccinating children. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 04.10.2021 09:58:00 (updated on 04.10.2021) Reading time: 5 minutes

Health Ministry will discuss tightening measures before the elections

In the second half of the week, just before the elections, the Health Ministry will decide whether to tighten some measures due to the growing number of infected, Czech Television reported, citing chief hygienist Pavla Svrčinová. According to Svrčinová, statistics from last week were distorted by Tuesday's national holiday.

"We will evaluate the numbers and decide what to do next. However, general measures will not be of the closure type, they will be regime measures," Svrčinová said.

At the beginning of September, Svrčinová said any future changes to measures would likely be epidemiological and hygienic, and could include a return to dispensing windows with a click-and-collect system, or restaurants seating only those with reservations, restrictions of participation in large events, and maintaining the OTN system (proof of vaccination, test or recovery from illness).

Last two walk-in vaccination centers in Prague to close

The remaining two vaccination centers in Prague outside of hospitals will close at the end of October. This applies to the main railway station Hlavní nádraží and Westfield-Chodov mall. The center at Nový Smíchov mall ended already on Thursday. "Interest in vaccinations is gradually declining compared to the summer months. At present, we vaccinate an average of about 150 people a day here," Eva Libigerová, a spokeswoman for the Bulovka University Hospital, which operates the center at the railway station, told ČTK.

Initially, there were around 800 people per day. Chodov has also seen a similar drop in numbers. Some 769,000 out of 1.07 million Praguers have received one dose of vaccination. More than two-thirds of the population have the second dose. About 1,400 inhabitants of the metropolis received a booster third dose of vaccination.  

Prague Castle visitation down 80 percent due to Covid

For the second summer in a row, tourist spots in the Czech Republic faced the absence of most foreign tourists. Some spots recorded higher visitor numbers than last summer, but still below the pre-Covid average, news server reported.

Prague's monuments suffered the most from the outflow of foreign tourists. For example, 768,000 visitors went to Prague Castle between the beginning of June and the end of August in 2019. Last year, however, there were only 163,724 tourists in the same period, and 163,916 tourists went to the site this year.

Prague Castle Administration spokesman Jan Pastor said domestic tourism has dropped compared to last year but there was an increase in visitors from neighboring countries, France, Spain, and Italy. But there was a notable decline in American and Asian visitors.

Lidové noviny: Parents should consider vaccinating children

There are arguments in support of the vaccination of small children under 12 against Covid-19, but the final decision will be up to their parents, Marek Hudema writes in Lidové noviny (LN). The vaccine for children aged from 5 to 11 is likely to be approved by the end of the year and for younger children a bit later.

Doctors and other experts assessing the vaccination of children previously concluded that children had usually only light symptoms of the Covid-19 infection, while the vaccines may have side effects sometimes, and consequently small children should not get vaccinated. However, now the situation is more complicated.

First, the new Covid variant may provoke a serious course of the disease even in children. Second, children often suffer from "long Covid-19" or long-term consequences even after a light course. This is why it is better to vaccinate even children under 12. Third, the vaccine also limits the virus spread, so the inoculation of children would be positive for their families and the entire society.  

Fully vaccinated Czech tourists can visit Croatia for one year after final dose

Tourists from the Czech Republic who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 may travel to Croatia without restriction for up to one year after their final vaccine dose, Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek tweeted on Saturday. The Croatian government approved the new regulation this weekend.

Previously, Croatia acknowledged a vaccine validity of 270 days. Croatia is by far the most popular summer destination for Czech tourists. This year, more than 750,000 tourists from the Czech Republic went to Croatia, which is almost the same number as before the Covid-19 pandemic. Most Czechs travel to Croatia by car or train. See our full story here.

Slovakia changes to high-risk red on the Czech Republic's travel map

Travel from Slovakia and Luxembourg to the Czech Republic will become more difficult for those without proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19 as of today. The two countries will switch from medium-risk orange to high-risk red, the Czech Health Ministry announced on Friday.

The ministry updates its map every week based on data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Hungary and Liechtenstein will turn orange in the new map, while Malta and the Azores will move to low-risk green. Travelers without proof of vaccination or recovery coming from green and orange countries must either show a negative Covid-19 test before entering the Czech Republic or undergo an antigen or PCR test five days after arrival at the latest. See our full story here.

Merck develops antiviral pill to treat Covid

The American pharmaceutical company Merck has developed an experimental antiviral pill called Molnupiravir. According to preliminary studies, it halves the risk that the infected person will be hospitalized or die after coronavirus infection. The company announced this in a press release on Oct. 1 but has not yet published the results of the study in a professional journal. The company plans to apply for emergency drug approval in the United States in the next two weeks.

According to Merck, the results of the clinical trials were so good that the company's independent consultants recommended terminating the studies prematurely. Merck is the first company to come up with clinical trial results for its antiviral pill, but a number of other companies are working on similar drugs. Pfizer recently launched clinical trials of two of its antivirals, with Atea Pharmaceuticals and the Swiss company Roche also working on anti-Covid-19 pills. The drug would need to be approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) before it can be used in the EU.

Pandemic numbers continue to worsen in the Czech Republic

On Sunday, there were 314 more Covid cases, compared to 249 a week ago. The reproduction number R is also increasing, reaching 1.36, up from 1.29 a day earlier. The so-called incidence number of cases of infection per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days rose to 42, up one from a day earlier. No deaths were reported for Sunday, but there was one each for Saturday and Friday. The total for October is two. Only 1,153 vaccine doses were applied on Sunday and of those, 708 were final doses and 79 were booster shots. For Prague, the R number is 1.2 and the incidence number is 60.

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Oct. 4, 2021)

  • New cases 314
  • Deaths to date 30,478
  • Currently hospitalized 204
  • Total PCR tests performed 10,854,557
  • Total antigen tests performed 27,554,037
  • Total vaccinations 11,830,473
  • Daily increase in vaccinations 1,152
  • Vaccinations completed 5,971,161
  • New cases per 100,000 in seven days 42
  • R number 1.36
  • PES number 61
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