Czech Health Minister: COVID-19 cases will continue to rise over next two weeks

Don't expect an immediate turnaround following the new anti-COVID-19 measures, warns Roman Prymula

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 16.10.2020 12:00 (updated on 16.10.2020)

Prague, Oct 16 (CTK) - The number of COVID-19 cases in the Czech Republic will keep rising for about 10-14 days, Health Minister Roman Prymula (for ANO) told reporters today.

Hospital capacities for COVID-19 patients have been successfully doubled already, he added.

An estimated 5,000 patients with COVID-10 may need hospital treatment by the end of October according to an optimistic scenario, and up to 1,000 would need intensive care under a pessimistic scenario, Institute of Health Information and Statistics (UZIS) director Ladislav Dušek said.

"If the measures taken had no effect, between 200,000 and 250,000 would get infected in the second half of October," Dušek added.

The reproduction number R, which shows the average number of people one person with COVID-19 can infect, slightly dropped from 1.5 to 1.4, he added.

"We have already monitored an increase in the number of the infected in vulnerable groups as well, the number of the positively diagnosed seniors has been rising," Dušek said.

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In October, 9,500 people over 65 years and 4,000 over 75 have been infected with COVID-19 in the country so far, Dušek added.

These elderly patients end up in hospital more often than the younger infected. More than 2,000 of them got infected in senior homes. The infection has spread in 115 senior homes, he said.

The Czech Republic is not facing the threat of healthcare system collapse over COVID-19 epidemic, but weeks to come will be hard, mainly for healthcare personnel, intensive care coordinator Vladimír Černý told reporters.

The hospital capacity will be increased by 5,000 beds, and an additional 800-1000 intensive care beds, he added.

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"This has its price, which will be the suspension of care that can be suspended," Cerny said.

Hospitals are advised to postpone non-urgent care that is not necessary for the patient's immediate health condition.

Moreover, hospitals are tackling the problem with the infected personnel. According to the latest published data, 1,319 doctors, 2,703 nurses and 2,199 other healthcare workers are infected with COVID-19.

The highest risk of the coronavirus infection is in senior homes as well as healthcare and spa facilities. There is also increased risk in schools and kindergartens, at single mass events, and for sports teams and theater ensembles, chief public health officer Jarmila Rážová said. People also often catch the virus at work, she added.

Field hospitals are being prepared for security reasons to prevent the healthcare system from running out of beds, Prymula said.

This weekend, the Czech military will start building a field hospital with the capacity of up to 500 beds at the exhibition grounds in Prague-Letňany and other similar facilities are to be prepared elsewhere, PM Andrej Babiš (ANO) said on Thursday.

This will be a reserve facility that may not be used. If the number of beds had to be raised rapidly, the Letňany hospital would be designated for patients with a less serious course of the disease, Prymula said.

Military personnel will care for patients in 200 beds, while civilian health workers will care for the rest, he added.

Prymula also said students of medicine would probably be able to help in all overburdened health care facilities and not only at the list of around 50 essential hospitals where they were to be deployed. He will propose to the government today that the list of these hospitals be cancelled, he added.

On Monday, the government imposed a work duty on medical students who successfully passed four or five years of their six-year studies, as well as students of other fields, such as future dentists and pharmacists.

They are to help in hospitals whose personnel was weakened by the coronavirus epidemic. On the other hand, last-year students who helped fight the coronavirus epidemic in the spring should now focus on the completion of their studies.