Czech Republic coronavirus updates, September 22: 1,476 new cases, Prymula takes over as Health Minister

The Czech Republic gets a new Health Minister as the number of daily COVID-19 cases remains above 1,000

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 22.09.2020 09:49:00 (updated on 22.09.2020) Reading time: 3 minutes

There were 1,476 new COVID-19 cases reported in the Czech Republic yesterday, according to the latest update from the Czech Health Ministry this morning.

The daily rise represents an increase over the number of new cases reported on Sunday, but less than half of the record-high number of cases reported at the end of last week, which topped 3,000 for the first time.

The Czech Republic has now reported more than 50,000 cases since the start of the epidemic in March, with the total now standing at 50,764. About half of those cases, 24,817, are currently active.

The total number of cases has more then doubled in September alone, with more than 26,000 new cases reported through the first three weeks of the month.

There have now been 522 COVID-19-related deaths in the Czech Republic since the beginning of the outbreak in March, a number that has been quickly rising. There are currently 494 COVID-19 patients in Czech hospitals, with 101 considered to be in serious condition.

Prague continues to be the most-affected locality in the Czech Republic, with about 218 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, but numbers are rising in most districts across the country.

Prague-East has reported 195 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the past week, followed by Uherské Hradiště (181), Prague-West (176), Kroměříž (172), and Liberec (167).

The Czech Health Ministry released a new traffic light map yesterday, which list Prague as the lone red high-risk area, indicating continued community transmission of COVID-19. A total of 28 other districts are orange medium-risk, indicating the beginning of community transmission, while the rest of the country is green low-risk, indicating the presence of COVID-19 without community transmission.

There was some drama within the Czech government yesterday as former Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch announced his resignation at an impromptu press conference Monday morning.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš quickly named his replacement in epidemiologist Roman Prymula, who had served as Deputy Prime Minister in the spring before resigning that post himself in May. This morning, Prymula was officially inaugurated as the country's Health Minister.

As the number of COVID-19 cases in the Czech Republic continues to rise, further measures are expected to be taken to help curb the spread of the virus. The Czech government has re-activated its Central Crisis Staff, disbanded in the spring, to help manage the current situation.

"Time is not easy, my main task will be to stabilize the epidemiological situation," Prymula stated at a press conference this morning.

"We should forget about politics and cooperate for at least a few weeks."

During the press conference, Prymula mentioned a few measures under consideration; those include closing bars and pubs from 10 p.m. (currently, they must close from midnight), and enabling distance learning at high schools (currently, distance learning is mandatory for universities in Prague).

Prymula also stated that he will recommend school principals close their schools this Friday, September 25, which would give students a four-day weekend (September 28 is a state holiday) and potentially slow the immediate spread of COVID-19.

The new Health Minister added that a State of Emergency would not be declared right now, but did not rule it out in the coming weeks. He mentioned that he was monitoring the response to the COVID-19 situation in Israel, Germany, and the UK.

According to PM Babiš, Prymula's primary task will be to ensure there are sufficient beds in Czech hospitals to care for COVID patients in serious condition.

Additional European states have added the Czech Republic to their lists of risk areas over the past week, restricting travel from the country to some extent. Germany, which has currently listed Prague and the Central Bohemia region on its list of risk areas (requiring a negative COVID-19 test from travelers), is expected to make a decision on listing the entire Czech Republic tomorrow.

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