Coronavirus update, Sept. 13, 2021: Covid testing ends in Czech schools today

Plus: 6 Million people have at least one vaccine dose, chief hygienist says there could be more inspections on public transit, O2 universum center closes.

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Written by Expats.cz
Published on 13.09.2021 09:58 (updated on 13.09.2021)

 Vojtěch: Covid testing in schools won't be extended

According to Health Minister Adam Vojtěch, testing for Covid-19 in schools has ended. In the first term after the start of the school year last week, tests confirmed 116 positive cases of infection. Comprehensive screening testing in schools was set by the Ministry of Health on Sept. 1 or 2, and on Sept. 6 and 9.

"According to current data, we do not expect to continue testing in any of the regions after Sept. 9. The extraordinary measure that was issued will expire on Sept. 10, and will therefore be automatically repealed and we will not issue any new measures regarding testing in schools," Vojtěch said last week.

He did not rule out that, depending on the situation, this could change over time in some regions The issues should be clarified by the end of September. The mandatory wearing of face masks in corridors or changing rooms will still apply in schools. The measure is intended to protect schools from closure due to the outbreak.  

Swimming and sports rules relaxed for schools

Children from one school can now swim together without Covid tests, and in sports they do not have to keep a distance of 1.5 meters, the government decided on Friday. In general, a visit to swimming pools is subject to the submission of a negative test for Covid-19 or proof of vaccination against the disease or its passing. The Health Minister Adam Vojtěch explained the modifications of the measure in an effort to simplify the conditions for schoolchildren. The rules for organizing the academic year at universities are also being relaxed.

Six million people have at least one vaccine dose

Some 6 million people in the Czech Republic have received at least one Covid-19 vaccination dose as of Friday, Sept. 10. However, interest in the vaccine is declining and 75-percent coverage, which is considered the minimum threshold for achieving collective immunity, is still far away. There were 6,003,523 people in the Czech Republic vaccinated with at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine as of Saturday morning, counting the single-dose Janssen vaccine as well as the first shots of two-dose vaccines. The imaginary target of 6 million fell on Friday when health professionals gave out 17,057 doses, of which 11,318 were second doses.

"As of today, the Czech Republic has 6 million people vaccinated with at least one dose. Thank you to everyone who has already been vaccinated, " Smart Quarantine said on Twitter.

As of Saturday morning a total of 5,837,703 people had completed vaccination. Of these, 5,623,708 received both doses of one of the vaccines with a two-dose schedule. The remaining 213,995 people were vaccinated with a single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. Another 165,820 people are now awaiting a second vaccination.

Chief hygienist: There could be more inspections on public transit

Although the number of people newly infected with coronavirus has been growing in recent days, Czech Chief Hygienist Pavla Svrčinová expects that another significant increase will not happen. If it does, it's possible that the validity of Covid tests could be shortened. "We do not want to close anything. And the very last closures would be schools," she said in an interview for iDnes.cz. She also hopes to see more enforcement of mask rules on public transit but said that for now all health inspectors are involved in tracking and tracing.

“Checks on public transport could be more frequent, but we are trying to negotiate this with the city authorities so that they can be carried out by the city police. We try in all directions,” she said.

O2 universum vaccination center closes down

The Czech Republic's largest vaccination center, at O2 universum in Prague, has terminated its operation as of Friday, Health Minister Adam Vojtěch has told media. The last vaccinated patient left the center shortly after 5 p.m. At O2 universum, about 680,000 vaccine doses were given out from May until its closure on Friday. It saw a daily high of 7,000 vaccinations, but its capacity enabled twice as many. Some 26 pharmacists and pharmaceutical assistants, 15 physicians, 19 nurses, three rescuers and 70 soldiers and members of active military reserves facilitated the center's daily operations. There are still about 300 vaccination points in the Czech Republic providing vaccination even for those who have not registered for vaccination in advance, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said. See our full story here.

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Prague court cancels Health Ministry directive restricting visa applications

All foreigners will again be able to apply for a Czech residence permit as the Municipal Court of Prague has canceled part of a Health Ministry directive that restricted the applications, according to Seznam Zprávy. The directive, issued at the end of August, barred people from some non-EU countries from applying for a visa or long-term residence permit unless they met certain conditions including work or study.

"[The cancelled provision related] mainly to tourist visas and risk countries [for Covid-19]. It is an anti-epidemic question, but we will have to respect the court's decision," Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said.

He said the issue is primarily within the jurisdiction of the Interior and Foreign Ministries, which are in charge of issuing visas. See our full story here.

Demonstrators in Brno protest against Covid restrictions

About 300 people met in Brno Sunday to protest against the government's Covid restrictions, mainly those faced by schoolchildren, the speakers including members and fans of Tricolor Freedomites Freeholders (TSS) and other minor right-wing groups, and also pop singer Daniel Landa. In the opening speech, former Social Democrat (ČSSD) MP and current TSS election candidate Zdeněk Koudelka spoke about a "Covidist propaganda" comparable to the Communist and Nazi propaganda. He, too, criticized the mandatory Covid testing of schoolchildren and what he called an excessive number of vaccines that the Czech Republic purchased without needing so many of them. Physician Miroslav Havrda said testing at schools, with its low positivity rate, is a ridiculous affair worth hundreds of millions of crowns.

New Covid cases similar to last week

There were another 138 new Covid cases on Sunday, similar to a week ago when 140 cases were reported. There are 113 hospitalizations, the highest number since June 17, and 15 people in serious condition, according to Health Ministry data. One death was reported for Sunday, bringing the September toll to seven. The incidence rate of newly infected per 100,000 people over seven days stayed at 24, the same as a day earlier. A week ago the incident number was at 16. The reproduction number R fell from 1.4 to 1.2. It has been above 1.0 since August 26. Karlovy Vary remains the worst region, with an incidence number of 48 and an R number of 1.24. For Prague, the incidence is 42 and the R number is 1.17  

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

  • New cases 138
  • Deaths 30 414
  • Currently hospitalized 113
  • PCR tests performed 10,392,610
  • Antigen tests performed 26,536,306
  • Total vaccinations 11,633,234
  • Daily increase in vaccinations 1,881
  • People who have completed vaccination 5,841,873
  • New cases per 100,000 in seven days 24
  • PES index 45
  • R number 1.19
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