Czech Republic coronavirus updates, Dec. 17: Govt. seeks to extend emergency state as death toll crosses 10,000

New lockdown rules begin on Friday; Czech lawmakers will meet next week to discuss an extended state of emergency

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 17.12.2020 08:25 (updated on 17.12.2020)

The spread of coronavirus infection is worsening in the Czech Republic as the death toll crosses 10,000 since March and the country prepares to move to a higher level on the PES anti-epidemic system and tighter restrictions on personal movement Friday.

The Czech government is set to discuss extending the state of emergency at a Dec. 22 meeting; the current state of emergency is valid until Dec. 23. The government is expected to ask for another 30-day extension until Jan. 22, Deputy PM and Interior Minister Jan Hamáček told ČTK.

The state of emergency is necessary to maintain the validity of lockdown restrictions which would end on Dec. 23.

From Friday, a night curfew will apply once again from 11 pm to 5 am. Restaurants, hotels, indoor sports grounds and swimming pools must close; shops and services will stay open despite the fourth risk level status. Health minister Jan Blatný will propose an exception for midnight Christmas services to the government, however this exception does not apply to New Year's Eve parties.

"The situation is not good, the numbers in hospitals are growing," Czech Prime Minister Babiš said on Wednesday, adding that it is probably out of the question that it would improve in less than 30 days. Blatný called on people to limit outdoor movement to the bare minimum during the day.

Neighboring countries Germany and Slovakia have also announced lockdown measures due to the resurgence of COVID cases.

Blanket voluntary testing of the population with antigen tests, covered from health insurance, began in the Czech Republic on Wednesday.

An estimated 15,500 people underwent the antigen testing in the Czech Republic on Wednesday, according to data from the Smart Quarantine project.

On Wednesday it was also announced that the first vaccines should arrive in the Czech Republic by Christmas; medical personnel from hospitals who treat coronavirus patients in serious condition will be the first to receive the vaccine. Vaccination against COVID-19 will be covered by health insurance and will not be compulsory. 

Currently, the PES risk index is still the highest in the Zlin region where it stands at 81 points, which corresponds to the worst, fifth risk level (76-100). A total of six regions face the highest risk. Prague, has held steady at a milder third level (41-60), but its risk index rose to 56 on Wednesday up from 51 on Tuesday.

According to the latest data released by the Czech Ministry of Health's website there were 8,235 new cases reported on Wednesday, 69,719 active cases, 4,609 hospitalized, and a total of 602,404 cases since March. The number of COVID-related deaths has reached 10,036 to date.