Czech Health Minister: Almost all Covid measures could end by April 1

A regularly updated article with all the latest developments related to the Covid-19 pandemic in the Czech Republic for Feb. 14–20.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 14.02.2022 09:29:00 (updated on 20.02.2022) Reading time: 20 minutes

This is a weekly overview of the latest coronavirus news for Prague and the Czech Republic. Here you'll find important developments, organized by date, and updated daily by Expats.cz as well as a live data stream taken from the Ministry of Health. A regularly updated list of restrictions can be found here.

For a more detailed breakdown of Covid hospitalization, vaccination, and mortality data for the Czech Republic, see CovData.cz.

Latest COVID Statistics

Confirmed cases on 05.07.2022: +538

Active cases: 7 048

Currently hospitalized: 213

Tests yesterday: 1 228

Vaccinations yesterday: 28

Confirmed cases total: 3 937 410

Recovered total: 3 890 038

Vaccinated total: 6 965 760

Tests total: 21 932 423

Deaths total: 40 324

COVID 19 - New cases for last
Data valid as of 17:28:01 06.07.2022
Source: https://onemocneni-aktualne.mzcr.cz

Feb. 20, 2022

Overview Number of new Covid cases hits six-week low

The Czech Republic reported 8,220 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, according to the latest data provided by the Czech Health Ministry this morning. The tally represents the lowest number of new cases in the Czech Republic in six weeks, and about 25 percent fewer cases than the previous Saturday. The number of suspected reinfections also fell, to 1,318.

The Czech Republic now reports an incidence rate of 1,023 Covid cases per 100,000 residents over the past week, the lowest it has been in more than a month. Last week, the incidence rate stood at 1,506 cases per 100,000 people.

There are currently 3,302 patients with Covid-19 in Czech hospitals. The total number of confirmed Covid cases in the Czech Republci has now exceeded 3.5 million since March 2020.

Feb. 19, 2022

Overview New Covid cases hit five-week workday low

The Czech Republic reported 13,774 new Covid cases on Friday, according to data posted this morning by the Czech Health Ministry. The number represents the Czech Republic's lowest workday tally in over five weeks, and a week-on-week decrease of over thirty percent.

Suspected reinfections also decreased by about thirty percent, to 2,568, though the number of tests performed has also declined. The number of patients with Covid in Czech hospitals has also fallen, to 3,578.

The weekly incidence rate, or the number of Covid cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days fell to 1,048 cases per 100,000 people on Friday. The weekly incidence rate is now the lowest it has been over the past month.

The Covid reproduction number, which shows the average number of people who contract the virus from one positive person, has remained below 1 for the past two weeks, indicating the spread of the virus is slowing down.

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Feb. 18, 2022

OVERVIEW Pandemic numbers falling for two weeks

There were another 15,517 Covid cases on Thursday, compared to 22,667 a week ago, and the number of reinfections fell by one-quarter to 2,910. Some 3,720 people were hospitalized with Covid and 260 were in serious condition. Last Thursday, there were 4,035 hospitalizations, with 260 serious cases.

Since the epidemic outbreak in March 2020, almost 3.5 million have contracted the virus and 38,106 of them have died. This year, there have been 1,839 Covid-related deaths. The February daily average number is 48 deaths, that of January is 33. The seven-day toll is 341, and the toll for February is 819

Interest in vaccination is constantly falling. On Thursday, health professionals administered 10,680 doses of the vaccine, including 7,904 boosters, while a week ago, this was almost 16,000. Since early February, the daily average has been around 15,000 doses, but in January almost 50,500 doses a day. In all, just under 64 percent of the Czech population have complete vaccination.

The reproduction number rose to 0.75 from 0.73. For two weeks in a row, it has been under 1.00 which suggests the epidemic spread is slowing down. The number of new cases per 100,000 people over seven days fell to 1,126 from 1,193 a day earlier. It is the lowest since Jan. 19. The situation is worst in South Moravia at 1,332. By contrast, the best situation is in the Karlovy Vary region at 830. Prague is sixth-best at 1,071.

17:00 Health Minister: Almost all Covid measures could end by April 1

Health Minister Vlastimil Válek wants almost all anti-coronavirus measures to be ended by 1 April at the latest. Respirators could be mandatory to a lesser extent than before, he said at today's press conference in the Chamber of Deputies after the approval of the amendment to the pandemic law. Válek plans to present a proposal for the gradual relaxation of measures next week. He would like people in the Czech Republic to be able to spend Easter, which halls on April 17, after three years, as they were used to before the coronavirus pandemic.

He said it is important to be careful at least in the first two weeks of March. Válek said respirators could remain mandatory in public transport. However, he expects them to be mandatory to a lesser extent than before. At present, they are required in public interiors, including workplaces, and in public transport.

13:50 Lower house overturns Senate veto on pandemic amendment

The amendment to the Pandemic Act will most likely apply. The Chamber of Deputies overruled its Senate veto by a majority vote. It now goes to President Miloš Zeman, who has already announced that he will sign it. In particular, the amendment expands the possibilities for issuing anti-coronavirus measures and also extends the effectiveness of the law from the end of February to the end of November. It will also enable ordering quarantine or isolation by telephone or short text message (SMS). The amendment passed with 104 votes, while 82 opposition members were against it. At least 101 votes were required to overturn the Senate veto.

13:45 Novavax vaccine will arrive next week

Next week, the Nuvaxovid vaccine from Novavax should arrive in the Czech Republic. If the Czech Republic has a surplus of vaccines, it will donate them to countries that lack them, Deputy Health Minister of Health Josef Pavlovic told Czech Radio. The Health Ministry has previously stated that vaccination with Nuvaxovid will begin at the end of February. People can register for this vaccination from the beginning of the month. The Health Ministry believes that those who are concerned about more modern mRNA vaccines might be interested in Nuvaxovid, which uses older technology.  

12:30 Companies saw over 169,00 positive antigen Covid tests

Over 169,000 employees had a positive antigen test in five weeks of mandatory testing in firms in Czechia. More than half of them underwent a consecutive PCR test that confirmed positive results in more than 84 percent of cases, Health Ministry spokesman Ondřej Jakob said. Mandatory blanket corporate testing ended today. Employees were usually tested on Mondays and Thursdays, therefore some data from the tests carried out on Thursday will be added to the statistics. From Monday to Thursday this week, employers reported 19,433 Covid cases, roughly a half as against the previous testing week with the highest score.

Czech lower house to vote on pandemic amendment today

The Chamber of Deputies will vote this afternoon on the government's proposed amendment to the Pandemic Law, which was vetoed by the Senate over possible unconstitutionality. The Chamber of Deputies postponed the vote on the amendment until 1 pm today, based on the agreement of the coalition clubs after a roughly 6.5-hour debate on the draft. The government majority is expected to override the Senate veto when it has a full 108 deputies. At least 101 parliamentary votes are required. The postponement of the vote provoked criticism from the opposition. Its deputies pointed out that the coalition did not have enough votes on Thursday night to overturn the Senate's veto. President Miloš Zeman has said he would sign the amendment if it was passed.

Mandatory Covid testing ends, some firms will continue

The legal obligation to test for Covid at school and work ends today. In practice, the last full round of testing at schools was Monday. The cabinet called for testing of unvaccinated employees at the end of November and expanded it in mid-January to cover everyone. Some companies will voluntarily continue testing, Czech Television reported. These include Škoda Auto, ČEZ, T-Mobile, and Orlen Unipetrol. Many businesses will also keep work from home and hygiene measures. All the companies contacted by Czech TV continue to anticipate that some employees will continue to work from home.

Health Ministry plans to support education for nurses

The Health Ministry wants to financially support the education of nurses, similar to general practitioners, Health Minister Vlastimil Válek said at a press conference of the 1st Faculty of Medicine at Charles University when he opened a new bachelor's degree program for nurses. Currently, there are about 80,000 full-time nurses in the healthcare sector, but there are places for 2,500 more.  

Six people fined for not wearing masks at awards show

The Prague Hygiene Station fined six participants in November’s Czech Nightingale (Český slavík) music awards who did not have respirators on, according to Czech Radio. The amount of the fine and the names of those punished were not disclosed because the administrative proceedings had not yet ended. Several audience members as well as to show’s owner, current presidential candidate Karel Janeček, did not have a mask or respirator on.  

Feb. 17, 2022

OVERVIEW Covid death toll surpasses 38,000 mark

There were another 16,986 Covid cases on Wednesday, compared to 29,052 a week earlier. Suspected reinfections decreased from almost 5,000 last Wednesday down to the current 2,912. Some 3,791 patients are hospitalized with Covid, and 265 are in serious condition. Last week saw 4,033 Covid patients with 24 in serious condition.

The Covid-related death toll crossed the 3,800 mark to reach 38,050. A preliminary 26 deaths were reported for Wednesday, and Tuesday’s figure was updated to 44. The seven-day toll is 341 and the toll for February is 763. Since the start of this year, there have been 1,783 Covid-related deaths. The numbers have been rising in recent days. In January, there were on average 33 deaths daily, in February, the daily average has been 48.

Interest in the vaccination has been falling. On Wednesday, 10,027 people were inoculated, while it was 6,000 more a week ago. Booster doses were given to 7,494 people. On the other hand, only 560 Czechs got the first jab, and 1,998 completed vaccination.

The reproduction number R is at 0.73. The incidence number of new cases per 100,000 people over seven days is at 11,193, down from 1,305 a day earlier. Compared to Tuesday, it is falling in all regions. It is still the highest in South Moravia with 1,415 and the lowest in the Karlovy Vary region with 879. Prague is fifth-lowest at 1,113.  

12:57 Health minister wants insurers to cover one PCR test a month

Health Minister Vlastimil Válek wants to negotiate with health insurance companies so they will cover one preventive PCR test a month but such measure cannot be enforced without the approval of the amended Pandemic Law. Last year, health insurers paid some CZK 55 billion for Covid testing. The Health Ministry said that PCR tests will not be covered by the insurers anymore as of March 1. Tests ordered by doctors and public health officers will be still covered by public health insurance.

Lower house to vote on Pandemic Law on Friday afternoon

The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, will vote on the government amendment to the pandemic law at 1 pm on Friday. The Chamber of Deputies will vote on the bill again after the Senate, the upper house, rejected it last week. The MPs reached a decision on the Friday vote after more than 37 hours since the launch of the debate on the bill on Tuesday.  The opposition criticized the move, saying the coalition does not have enough votes to overturn the Senate's veto.

Zeman plans to sign Pandemic Act

President Miloš Zeman will not veto an amendment to the Pandemic Law if the Chamber of Deputies approves it. "Unlike the state budget, for example, I do not consider the Pandemic Law to be so important. I said that I would not veto it after the adjustments that took place in the Chamber of Deputies," Zeman said in an interview with daily Mladá fronta Dnes.  

Govt. approves Covid compensation for entrepreneurs

Prime Minister Petr Fiala said the government approved compensation for entrepreneurs. CZK 5 billion will be earmarked in the budget. There will be four support programs. The first covers retailers and Christmas market organizers. Other subsidies will apply to entrepreneurs in tourism, gastronomy, and accommodation. Tour organizers will have a special program.  

Vaccination at Kotva to end

The General University Hospital (VFN) will end Covid vaccination in the Kotva department store in the center of Prague. The last day will be Feb. 28. It will continue to administer vaccines in the polyclinic complex at Karlovo náměstí 32, the hospital announced on Facebook. Most vaccination centers outside hospitals have already ended operations in Prague. Interest in vaccinations has dropped significantly in February.  

PM defends dropping free PCR tests

It seems logical that the Czech state will not cover preventive PCR tests for Covid from the public health insurance system as of March as it will not require these tests from people anywhere, Prime Minister Petr Fiala told a press conference after a cabinet meeting. He said most countries took similar steps. "It stands to reason that if PCR tests are not required for entry to events or restaurants or anywhere else, then the state will gradually stop covering them," Fiala said. Currently, children, vaccinated persons, and those who cannot get vaccinated for health reasons have the right to undergo a PCR test for free up to five times a month.

Expert: Preventive PCR tests should remain free

The end of the free preventive PCR tests for Covid is a wrong step as they help people behave responsibly and provide an overview of the virus spread in the country, molecular geneticist Jan Pačes, from the Czech Academy of Sciences, said. He added that many underwent a test, for instance, before they met the elderly. Besides, the Czech Republic cannot do without monitoring the virus spread in the population, which exactly massive testing enables. "Without this, we will be blind in the autumn and will not know the situation," he said

Germany, Austria canceling almost all Covid measures

All major quarantine measures against covid-19 will gradually end in Germany by 20 March. Today, Chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed with the prime ministers of the German federal states. Mandatory masks in public indoor areas and respect for mutual distance will remain in force. The government also wants to review the quarantine conditions for entry into Germany from high-risk foreign areas, which is now the Czech Republic.

Austria will repeal virtually all anti-Covid measures from March 5. Upon entering the country, you will need proof of vaccination, illness, or a negative coronavirus test. This will end the night curfew. Gastronomic establishments will be able to open at night and the need to wear a respirator will be maintained only in public transport, supermarkets, or hospitals.  

Feb. 16, 2022

OVERVIEW Pandemic continues to recede

Czech laboratories confirmed 28,239 new Covid cases on Tuesday, compared to 37,639 a week earlier. Another 5,054 had a relapse, some 1,500 fewer than a week ago. Hospitals had 3,733 Covid patients, with 272 in serious condition. A week earlier there were 3,931 patients with 239 serious cases. A preliminary 17 Covid-related deaths were reported. Last week, 54 people died a day on average as against 33 cases per day in January. The seven-day toll is 328 and the toll for February is 704. since the beginning of the pandemic 37,991 people have died from Covid.

The demand for vaccination continues to fall. On Tuesday, health professionals distributed 9,572 vaccine doses including 7,036 boosters, compared to almost 16,000 a week ago and nearly 68,000 jabs on a weekday in January.

The reproduction number R is 0.77. Its value is below 1.00 for the 12th day in a row, which shows that the epidemic is fading away. The number of new cases per 100,000 people over seven days fell to 1,304 from 1,393 a day earlier. South Moravia has the highest incidence rate, at 1,553.By contrast, the Karlovy Vary Region has the lowest at 991. Since January 24, it is the first region with an incidence rate below 1,000. Prague has the fourth-lowest rate at 1,205.

11:30 PM Heger: Slovakia to cancel Covid restrictions

Slovakia will gradually cancel epidemiological restrictions until the end of February and will return to "the time before the Covid outbreak" by the end of March, Prime Minister Eduard Heger told journalists today. Slovakia is still battling the more contagious Omicron variant, but the pace of its spread is not accelerating, laboratory tests have shown. "We must learn to live with the Covid. It is each individual's responsibility to protect their own health," Heger said adding that vaccination is the most efficient tool for protection. Slovakia is one of the EU countries with the lowest share of Covid-vaccinated population.

Heger said that as of February 28, the need to present a certificate of vaccination or infectivity when entering some establishments and public events would be canceled as will home quarantine for the students having contact with another student who tested positive. The number of participants in public events will be increased. In the second stage, to take effect on March 28, the government wants to cancel the capacity limitations for public events and opening hours mandates and the rules for wearing masks.

The number of coronavirus infections started soaring in Slovakia in mid-January. The 5.5-million-population country repeatedly recorded the daily increases of over 20,000 infected. On Tuesday, laboratories detected 19,955 infected and almost six out of ten examined samples brought positive results.

Lower house did not discuss Pandemic Law

The Chamber of Deputies did not vote on the form of the agenda of yesterday’s meeting due to filibustering from opposition parties, in particular Freedom and Democracy (SPD). The ruling coalition had planned to present an outline of how it planned to present its planned steps regarding the amendment to the Pandemic Law, which had been vetoed by the Senate.

New vaccination campaign being planned

The Health Ministry and Interior Ministry plan to launch a new campaign to promote vaccination, as interest has fallen significantly. the campaign will also target disinformation. "There will be a campaign for vaccination that I would like to launch in late March or early April," Health Minister Vlastimil Válek said. The scope and exact form of the campaign are not yet clear. Both ministries are expected to agree on a budget.

Recent graduates facing a difficult time on job market

Employers have been reluctant to hire people who graduated during the Covid pandemic. Classes were held online for long periods, and potential employers feel students may not have had a full education, especially in technical work. Some 4,302 high school students who graduated last year with a high school diploma or apprenticeship certificate did not find a job in their field at least until the spring of the following year, according to news server iDnes.cz. This is the highest number in five years.

Compared to the graduates from 2019, this is an increase of 35 percent, compared to those from 2018, it is even more than 52 percent. The Czech Republic currently has the lowest unemployment rate in the EU, at 3.6 percent according to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

Feb. 15, 2022

OVERVIEW New Covid cases continue to fall

On Monday, tests confirmed 19,459 new cases of Covid, compared to 29,612 a week earlier. In addition to new cases, hygienists also recorded 3,742 suspicions of recurrent infection on Monday. For the first time in three weeks, the number of patients hospitalized with Covid decreased, to 3,705 people from 3,852 a week earlier. Serious cases rose slightly to 254 from 233 a week earlier.

The death toll is approaching 38,000. On Monday, a preliminary 27 deaths were added to the statistics, taking the total to 37,946. The toll for the past seven days is 337. The toll for February is 659. Interest in vaccination continues to drop. On Monday, paramedics administered 10,146 doses, including 7,785 booster shots. A week earlier, they administered almost 16,400. Since the start of vaccination in December 2020, almost 17.3 million vaccination doses have been administered in the Czech Republic.

The number of new Covid cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days continues to drop. It was 1,393, down from 1,488 a day earlier and the lowest since January 21. The disease is most prevalent in the South Moravia region at 1,677 the least in the Karlovy Vary region at 1,072. Prague is second lowest at 1,215.

14:30 Free PCR tests will probably end in March

Preventive PCR tests paid for by public health insurance will probably end from the beginning of March. They will only be free of charge only when ordered by a doctor or hygienic service, Deputy Health Minister Josef Pavlovic said. Currently, only children and vaccinated people have free tests at their own request, they can draw five a month. Others must pay for the test without a doctor's or hygienist's request. "If the current epidemiological development continues, it is highly probable that the extraordinary measure of the Health Ministry to pay for preventive tests will end on Feb. 28," Pavlovic said.

Returning Czechs no longer affected by travel map

From today, conditions for returning from abroad for Czechs and foreigners with residence permits will not be governed by the traveler's map. Fully vaccinated people and those who have had Covid in the last 180 days will be able to enter the Czech Republic without restrictions, as well as children under 12 years of age, the Health Ministry said. The traveler's map will only be relevant for the entry of foreigners who are not residents, such as tourists. People within a maximum of 270 days from the end of their course of vaccination are considered vaccinated. The certificate is valid indefinitely after a booster dose and for people under 18 years of age. People vaccinated outside the European Union and those who have undergone Covid abroad should check that their certificate is recognized.

For the unvaccinated, conditions will vary for travel from EU and non-EU countries. When returning from EU countries, it will be sufficient to have an antigen or PCR test before entering the Czech Republic. The same applies to Czech citizens and EU residents on arrival from third countries, but others must have a PCR test in this case. Antigen tests will be valid for 24 hours. People who travel to the Czech Republic from an EU country by individual transport do not have to undergo the pre-arrival antigen test. If people go on a visit to a neighboring country for up to 24 hours, they do not need the test either, the ministry said.

Unvaccinated people who were in third countries must undergo another PCR test on the fifth to seventh day after their return. Regardless of the country category, all arrivals must complete an arrival form.

Vaccination certificates older than nine months expire

The validity of certificates for the two-dose Covid vaccine or its single-jab equivalent is reduced to nine months in the Czech Republic as today for adults. The validity can be extended indefinitely with a booster shot. The nine-month validity rule should have come into effect as of Feb. 1, but it was extended to allow more people to get a booster shot. Health Ministry spokesman Ondřej Jakob said certificates are now expiring for about 140,000 people and that the ministry has made them aware of this by SMS message. The same validity model will apply to vaccination certificates across the EU, corresponding to recommendations from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).  

Coalition to announce next steps on Pandemic Law

The chairmen of the coalition's parliamentary groups debated further steps in the amendment to the Pandemic Law, which was rejected by the Senate last week. They did not announce the result. They want to acquaint the members of the broader leadership of the lower house with the conclusions on Tuesday morning, and then discuss them with their parliamentary factions. "We will announce the result to the opposition tomorrow [Tuesday] and discuss it with the parliamentary groups," Christian Democrat (KDU-ČSL) club chairman Marek Výborný said.

Omicron makes up 88 percent of Covid cases

The Omicron coronavirus variant, which has been prevailing in Czechia since early January, makes up 88 percent of all Covid-19 samples analyses, the National Health Institute (SZÚ) said in a press release. About 5 percent of the samples were the Delta variant, which was dominant before Omicron, and 4 percent were the BA.2 variant, which prevails in Denmark and other Scandinavian countries. The SZÚ receives the data from the whole-genome sequencing analyses one, two, or three weeks after the samples were taken. Data from more quickly-assessed PCR tests shows that 99 percent of coronavirus cases revealed last week were of the Omicron variant. Only samples of people who are symptomatic are tested in this way.

Feb. 14, 2022

Overview Incidence number under 1,500 again after three weeks

There were 7,193 newly confirmed cases of Covid on Sunday, down from 9,069 a week ago. It was the lowest daily increase in the past five weeks. In addition to the newly detected cases, there were 1,106 recurrent infections, the least since mid-January. In the whole of last week, 159,252 new cases of coronavirus infection were confirmed in the Czech Republic, while almost 230,000 were detected a week earlier. In the last seven days, the number of newly detected cases has fallen week-on-week.

In a week-on-week comparison, the number of hospitalized patients with a positive test has been growing steadily for three weeks now. On Sunday, there were 3,417 Covid patients in hospitals, of which 239 were in serious condition. Compared to the previous week the number of hospitalizations increased by 165, and the number of serious cases increased by 25 cases.

Since the beginning of this year, more than 1,600 people have died with Covid. The death toll has been rising recently. Since the beginning of February, there has been an average of 45 deaths per day. There were 33 cases a day in January. A preliminary 28 deaths were reported for Sunday. The seven-day toll is 309 and the toll for February is 588. Some 1,813 people were vaccinated on Sunday. This included 1,363 booster shots and 421 people completing vaccination.

The reproduction number R is at 0,76. The incidence rate of new cases per 100,000 people over seven days dropped to 1,488 from 1,506. It is below 1,500 for the first time in three weeks. The situation is worst in South Moravia at 1,774 and best in Karlovy Vary at 1,103. Prague is third-best at 1,349.

Respirators could be phased out from mid-March

Respirators could gradually start being phased out from mid-March, epidemiologist Rastislav Maďar said on Czech Television. He said that they would gradually disappear in various places in accordance with the prepared plan for the Health Ministry. "If the current prediction is met and the worst-case scenario, which has a probability of around 10 percent, does not occur, we could start to drop respirators in some places, gradually but not everywhere, sometime in mid-March," Maďar said. Maďar is dean of the Medical Faculty of the University of Ostrava and head of the epidemiological group of the Health Ministry’s advisory body, the National Institute for Pandemic Management.

Testing ends in schools

Blanket coronavirus testing in companies and schools will end as of Feb. 18, but since school testing only takes place on Mondays, it will in effect end in schools today. In the first two weeks of January, testing in schools was twice a week, but since Jan. 17 it has only been once a week. Covid testing in schools on Monday, Feb. 7, showed that infection rates were falling among both students and teachers. PCR tests confirmed infection in 10,018 people, while in the previous week, there were 15,413 infected.

Tečka app has 6.4 million downloads

The Tečka mobile application for Covid certificates has so far been downloaded 6.4 million times, and the verification application čTečka has 1.4 million, the National Agency for Communication and Information Technologies (NAKIT) said on Twitter. The application, which makes it possible to carry vaccination, recovery, or test results on a mobile phone, has been in operation since the end of last June. "The number of active users began to decline gradually before the abolition of the obligation to show certificates," NAKIT said. The application saw its first million downloads less than two weeks after launch. While certificates are no longer needed to enter places within the Czech Republic, they are still used for international travel.


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