Czech Republic coronavirus updates, September 21: 985 new cases, death toll crosses 500

For the first time ever, the country has surpassed 500 total deaths due to coronavirus.

Samantha Tatro

Written by Samantha Tatro Published on 21.09.2020 08:00:00 (updated on 21.09.2020) Reading time: 3 minutes

The Czech Republic has now surpassed 500 total deaths due to coronavirus, according to data released this morning from the Czech Health Ministry. On Sunday, only 985 new COVID-19 cases were reported, the lowest number all week.

It's the first time all week the number of new daily cases dipped below 1,000, according to officials. Last week saw a record number of new cases: on Thursday, the country reported 3,129 new cases, the highest number yet and the first time the total has crossed 3,000 new cases in a single day. That was after the previous all-time high of 2,135 cases.

Across the EU, the Czech Republic is now the third most-affected state in terms of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days, behind France and Spain.

The number of COVID-19 tests being conducted also rose last week, though on the weekends, fewer tests are conducted. Last week, the country conducted more than 15,000 tests a day on multiple days. The number of tests conducted on Sunday will be posted later tonight.

In August, the number of tests conducted never topped 10,000 in a single day. The current capacity of labs in the Czech Republic is about 20,700 tests, with a goal of increasing that to 25,000 tests by the end of the month.

More than 500 people are currently hospitalized with the virus, a number that has grown significantly in recent weeks. Prague Mayor Zdenek Hřib said the number of beds in Prague hospitals is still sufficient, but by mid-October, those beds could be filled.

Prague continues to be the most-affected area of the Czech Republic, with 216 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents reported over the past week. Last week, the country was marked red on the region traffic light map indicating risk of the virus. Almost all districts across the country have seen a sharp spike in cases over that time.

New restrictions are quickly being enacted to help slow the spread of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch announced last week that face masks are now mandatory for students in upper grades, from the second year of primary school (grade 6) and up.

The requirement for bars and clubs to close from midnight until 6 a.m. now applies for the entire country, not just Prague. All indoor events for more than 10 people during which people stand are prohibited as well. In addition, visits to social facilities and hospitals are now prohibited in Prague. Other regions have joined as well.

Roman Prymula, Deputy Minister for Science and Research in Health, warned that the Czech Republic could see more than 6,000 to 8,000 new coronavirus infections each day, if things continue the way they have been going, according to a report in iDnes.

"There will be an increase of six to eight thousand confirmed COVID-19 infections every day, unless we take further action. It is appropriate to consider a state of emergency," said Prymula.

But despite all the recent news, the Minister of the Interior Jan Hamáček has said that a state of emergency is not appropriate in the near future. The Central Crisis Staff will convene today and they will examine all the steps that should be taken in the coming days as the pandemic situation develops further, Hamáček said.

Health Minister Adam Vojtech (ANO) told Czech Television on Sunday that he would not propose enacting a state of emergency at the Central Crisis Staff meeting on Monday. He said the cabinet would discuss this possibility and consider the pros and cons. The health minister said the situation would become clearer when we have a better idea of the number of confirmed infections over the next working days. 

"We will clearly define the scenarios. Then there will be a press conference. If we adopt some measures, we will announce them on time so that everybody can get prepared for it," Hamáček said.

Vojtech said earlier on Sunday that a state of emergency would be declared only if the reproduction number, which reflects how many people become infected by a single infected person on average, surpasses 2 in the Czech Republic.

There have been a total of 24,775 recoveries since the beginning of the outbreak, and 503 COVID-19-related deaths, leaving a record-high 24,032 active cases.

Officials stress that hand washing, social distancing, and wearing face masks is required to help curb the spread of the virus.

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