Czech Republic coronavirus updates, Dec. 11: Schools may extend holidays, Blatny mulls tighter restrictions

Officials are considering an extension of school holidays, but some are already adding vacation time due to the spread of COVID-19.

Samantha Tatro

Written by Samantha Tatro Published on 11.12.2020 08:37:00 (updated on 11.12.2020) Reading time: 3 minutes

The Minister of Health will consider putting in place stricter anti-COVID measures as the number of new daily cases reached another two-week high on Thursday.

The country reported 6,402 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, according to new data from the Health Ministry. It's the highest total of new daily cases in more than two weeks, surpassing Wednesday's new high of 5,852 new cases.

For the fifth day this week, the Czech Republic's PES anti-epidemic index score remained at 64. The score corresponds to the stricter fourth level of anti-COVID-19 measures; according to the PES system, if the score remains above 60 for multiple days, officials should put in place tighter measures.

Many individual regions have progressively worsened on the national PES score map. Nearly a dozen regions, including Liberec, Zlin and Kutna Hora, are now fifth level of PES.

The government plans meet on Monday to decide whether or not to put in place stricter restrictions, Minister of Health Jan Blatný said earlier in the week. However, the Minister of Health has said that it is possible the country will move back to PES Level 4 restrictions following the meeting.

"It is possible that a decision will be made on Monday, it would be level 4. If such a change took place, there would be enough time for everyone to prepare for it," said Blatný.

As previously reported, the Health Minister has said that the restrictions in the fourth degree would be adjusted so that small shops could remain open this time around, so they would not be at a disadvantage compared to larger supermarkets.

Also up for consideration at Monday's meeting is an extension of the winter holidays for kids in school. Education Minister Robert Plaga will decide whether to start the Christmas holidays on Friday, Dec. 18 instead of Dec. 23 as originally planned.

The news comes as the reproductive (R) number, which indicates the number of people that one COVID-19-positive patient will infect, has risen to 1.1.

The country's positivity rate, or the number of people testing positive daily in relation to how many tests are conducted, remains high as well. On Thursday, nearly 28 percent of those tested, tested positive.

As the epidemiological situation worsens in the Czech Republic yet again, the Czech government has released new information on their free antigen testing prior to Christmas.

There will be more than 2,000 places where people can get tested ahead of Christmas in the Czech Republic. Testing will run from Dec. 18 to Jan. 15. In Prague, residents who want to be tested for COVID-19 through a free antigen test can look for the nearest available dates and locations through this new website set up by the municipality.

"General practitioners are not obliged to do so, but we have agreed with the management of their company that a large part of them will cooperate," said Minister Jan Blatný, according to Seznam Zpravy. Blatný has said that people can be tested repeatedly, but only once every five days.

Since March, the Czech Republic has reported a total of 563,333 COVID-19 cases, the majority of which were reported in September and October. Of those, there have been 493,946 recoveries, with 60,161 known active cases.

The number of patients in hospitals has been steadily decreasing as well. There are currently 4,326 COVID-19 patients in Czech hospitals, with 553 of those in serious condition.

The country has reported 9,226 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The most-affected region in the Czech Republic over the past two weeks by far continues to be Havlíčkův Brod, which has reported about 549 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past week.

The Czech Republic is no longer the most affected state in the EU; the country now ranks far below countries like Lithuania, Slovenia and Croatia, with about 510 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

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