Czech Republic coronavirus updates, Dec. 7: PES score rises, more students return to school

The Czech Republic's PES level increases to 64, may force stricter lockdown measures.

Samantha Tatro

Written by Samantha Tatro Published on 07.12.2020 08:42:00 (updated on 07.12.2020) Reading time: 4 minutes

The Czech Republic may face stricter restrictions if the PES score stays above 60 the next few days, and as more students head back to school today. Officials warn its a ticking bomb.

The country reported 3,312 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday and 1,113 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday. Though the number of new cases were the lowest of the week, the number of tests conducted on the weekend remains low; only 12,804 tests were conducted on Saturday. Sunday's testing numbers will be revealed tomorrow.

Despite the low number of cases, the country's positivity rate hit the highest percentage of the past 14 days on Saturday with a reported 25.8 percent of people testing positive for the virus.

As a result, on Sunday, the Czech Republic's PES anti-epidemic index score rose by seven points to 64. The score corresponds to the stricter fourth level of anti-COVID-19 measures, and, if the score remains above 60 for the coming days, officials may put in place tighter measures.

The PES score rose because the reproduction number (R number) exceeded 1.0 and the percentage of positive cases reached a new high as well, according to the Health Ministry.

In light of this data, many are concerned that more students heading back to school this Monday will be a sort of ticking time bomb for the virus, according to Seznam Zpravy.

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Starting today, high school students and first-year university students can now return to the classroom, but it is at the discretion of each school director to allow students back. In high schools, conservatories and higher vocational schools, students will alternate weeks of full-time teaching, according to Seznam. In universities, students can return to the class only if there are less than 20 people in the classroom.

For immunologist Václav Hořejší, reopening the schools will no doubt cause an increase in cases.

"But I can't say whether the opening will contribute five percent or thirty, but the role in the spread of the disease in students is that they are mostly asymptomatic, it's a time bomb," immunologist Václav Hořejší told Seznam Zpravy." Children from secondary school to university often show no signs of infection and are mild. They don't know it and spread it further."

In the meantime, Czech officials have finally made a conclusion about the reopening of ski resorts. Czech Health Minister Jan Blatný announced this weekend that ski resorts in the country will be allowed to open six days earlier than originally planned.

Officials will announce further ski resort-specific regulations on Monday, but according to initial information, operators will have to ensure distances between people waiting for ski lifts are kept, along with other measures. Refreshment kiosks are not likely to be open.

"We made an effort to give people who want to go skiing an opportunity to get to the mountains before Christmas, since we believe that most of them actually go there to practice sport and not just for evening entertainment," Blatný said, adding that the earlier opening will help operators get used to the new restrictions.

Since March, the Czech Republic has reported a total of 546,833 COVID-19 cases, the majority of which were reported in September and October. Of those, there have been 478,094 recoveries, with 59,837 known active cases.

The number of patients in hospitals has been steadily decreasing as well. There are currently 4,179 COVID-19 patients in Czech hospitals, with 553 of those in serious condition.

The most-affected region in the Czech Republic over the past two weeks by far continues to be Havlíčkův Brod, which has reported about 510 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 501 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Luxembourg has the worst COVID-19 situation in the EU right now with more than 1,100 cases per 100,000 in the past 14 days; Croatia is not far behind.

The Czech government will discuss a proposal regarding full compensation of wages for people with COVID-19 who must stay at home this week, Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlíček (ANO) told Lidové noviny (LN) over the weekend.

This measure aims to motivate people to undergo COVID-19 testing. The antigen test will be free to the public starting December 18. Currently, people who test positive for COVID-19 are put into home isolation, on sick leave, and receive just 60-percent of their wages. Read more about the proposal here.

In science news, Czech scientists have created a special paper that effectively kills bacteria and viruses including the virus which causes COVID-19 within half an hour, reports the Czech Academy of Sciences.

The paper, infused with a mixture of zinc and silver, could potentially be used in healthcare facilities or even in the manufacturing of banknotes and other shared paper products to minimize the risk of exposure to viruses.

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