Protests against mandatory vaccination take place across the Czech Republic

A regularly updated article with all the latest developments related to the Covid-19 pandemic in the Czech Republic for Jan. 3–9.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 03.01.2022 09:39 (updated on 09.01.2022) Reading time: 26 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 20.01.2022: +26 907

Active cases: 216 630

Currently hospitalized: 1 572

Tests yesterday: 100 725

Vaccinations yesterday: 52 452

Confirmed cases total: 2 705 754

Recovered total: 2 452 127

Vaccinated total: 6 903 405

Tests total: 17 528 380

Deaths total: 36 997

COVID 19 - New cases for last
Data valid as of 17:28:01 21.01.2022
Source: https://onemocneni-aktualne.mzcr.cz

January 9, 2022

Overview Number of Covid hospitalizations continues to fall

The Czech Republic reported 3,955 new Covid cases on Saturday, according to the latest figures published by the Health Ministry today. The number of new cases represents 2,900 more than a week ago, though the number of tests performed was also about twice as many as the January 1 holiday. There are now 2,300 Covid patients in Czech hospitals, the fewest since November.

The incidence rate across the Czech Republic is now 431 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, 27 more than on Friday. Prague currently has the highest incident rate in the Czech Republic, at 733 per 100,000 people over the past seven days.

Protests Czech cities see weekend demonstrations against mandatory vaccination

Thousands took part in protests against mandatory Covid vaccination in cities across the Czech Republic yesterday organized by Otevřeme Česko - Chcípl PES Facebook group. Protests took place in Ústí nad Labem, Olomouc, Karlovy Vary, and elsewhere; the highest turnout was in Brno, with a reported crowd of about 2,000 demonstrators.

Protests will continue today, and culminate with a demonstration on Prague's Wenceslas Square from 2:00 p.m.

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No major incidents were reported yesterday, though the Brno crowd reportedly ignored police requests to observe social distancing and other measures.

Initially formed to protest the closure of restaurants and other venues during the height of anti-coronavirus restrictions in the Czech Republic, the Otevřeme Česko (We Will Open Czechia) group now focuses on measures related to vaccination.

Mandatory vaccination for select groups including firefighters, police, healthcare workers and the elderly is set to come into effect in the Czech Republic from March 1. The new Czech government under Prime Minister Petr Fiala has discussed repealing this measure, which was introduced by their predecessors.

January 8, 2022

Overview Czech Republic reports 6,666 new cases Friday

The Czech Republic reported 6,666 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, a similar figure to Thursday and about 1,700 more than a week ago, according to new data published by the Health Ministry. The number of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 has decreased this week, but the number of new cases and the incidence rate have both risen since Monday.

There are currently about 2,500 patients with Covid-19 in Czech hospitals, down from 3,120 last Friday. The Czech incidence rate is now 404 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days. 

Since March 2020, more than 2.5 million people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the Czech Republic, and 36,558 of them have died. Over the first half of December, the Czech Republic reported more than 100 deaths per day, but that number is now lower. The Health Ministry has reported 226 Covid-related fatalities this week, though that figure will be updated as new data comes in.

Omicron variant detected in Prague wastewater

Employees of the Prague water supply company PVK detected presence of the omicron variant using a new device at the city's Central Wastewater Treatment Plant on Císařský ostrov. Omicron was found in the first sample taken. The new method of testing will be carried out at other treatment plants, says PVK spokesman Tomáš Mrázek.

Samples of wastewater have been tested for the presence of covid-19 in a number of places including schools and Prague's airport, but until now have only tested for earlier variants.

The testing method works by placing a special device in the sewer at a given facility that automatically takes samples. PVK employees then take the samples to a laboratory at regular intervals. Prague's University of Chemical Technology is assisting PVK on the project.

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Covid-positive employees of vital institutions may be allowed to go to work

The Czech government is considering allowing employees of selected institutions to go to work even if they test positive for Covid-19, Health Minister Vlastimil Válek told media on Friday when discussing steps the Czech government may take to stem the rising wave of the omicron variant.

He said the Interior Ministry has been asked to choose critical bodies of infrastructure that are indispensable for state operation, and whose employees would be able to go to work even if quarantined with Covid-19. The same would be true for social and health care workers and school staff, Válek said after negotiations with representatives of the employers and the Czech Chamber of Commerce.

Válek said he expects a steep rise in the omicron variant around January 16, and a steady decline through the second half of February.

January 7, 2022

OVERVIEW New cases up but hospitalizations dropping

There were another 6,641 Covid cases in the Czech Republic on Thursday, 900 more than a week ago, and it was the fourth week-on-week increase in a week in a row. Between Monday and Thursday, laboratories uncovered 33,538 cases of coronavirus. In the first four days of the previous week, this was fewer than 28,000.

By contrast, the number of hospitalized is falling. On Thursday 2,632 people were hospitalized with 473 in a serious condition, compared to a week earlier with 3,471 hospitalized and 613 in serious condition. A preliminary 32 deaths were reported for Thursday, and the seven-day toll is 328, and the toll for January is 279.

On Thursday, health professionals applied 97,478 vaccine doses of the coronavirus vaccine, which was the highest number in roughly three weeks. Some 83,666 people were given the third, booster dose. About 6,000 people had the first jab.

The reproduction number R rose to 1.16, meaning the pandemic is expanding. The incidence rate of new cases per 100,000 people over seven days rose to 388 from 380 a day earlier. The incidence rate has increased in nine regions and decreased in five since Thursday. The worst situation is in Prague, where the incidence rate increased to 620. The best situation is still in the Karlovy Vary Region at 230.

Health minister presents new expert Covid team

Health Minister Vlastimil Válek presented a new expert team to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic and said he will keep relying also on the central management team and on the data of the Institute of Health Information and Statistics (ÚZIS). The SPOLU coalition previously created an anti-Covid team led by vaccinologist Roman Chlíbek This body was transformed into the National Institute for Tackling the Pandemic (NIZP).

The Czech Doctors' Society of Jan Evangelista Purkyne nominated experts from its about 100 associations into Chlíbek's team. Currently, there are 33 of them, split into five working groups. According to the Health Ministry, the NIZP will provide statements and recommendations with the aim to tackle the pandemic as efficiently as possible. Subsequently, the central management team, ministers, and regional governors discuss its suggestions.

Sparta and Slavia stadiums to become vaccination centers

Slavia and Sparta, the leading Prague rivals, will open vaccination centers giving out booster doses at their stadiums in cooperation with the Prague City Hall. Both places will use the Pfizer booster vaccine. The center in Letná will operate from Jan. 10 to Feb. 4, and in Eden from Jan. 10 to Feb. 2. Only adults can receive a booster dose in both Sparta and Slavia. Before visiting both stadiums, it is necessary to register in advance online. Sparta director František Čupr said he wanted to help eradicate Covid so sports stadiums could operate at full capacity.

Válek to discuss new measures today

Health Minister Vlastimil Válek will meet with experts today to discuss possible measures that should be taken in the event of a worsening of the epidemic situation. He also wants to discuss quarantine arrangements for some professions. Válek will present the adjustments, which should be approved by the government next week, at a press conference after the cabinet meeting.

Future of school Covid testing to be decided today

Update: The policy should be announced Wednesday, Jan. 12. Whether schools will continue to test pupils and teachers for Covid twice a week or only once will be decided today, Education Minister Petr Gazdík said. The Ministries of Education and Health want to evaluate the results of the first and second rounds of testing, which took place on Monday and yesterday. Gazdík said that the results of Thursday's round of testing are roughly the same as on Monday. A decision should also be made on quarantine in schools in the event of a coronavirus outbreak from the second half of January. Gazdík said that learning all day in a respirator reduces the level of teaching.  

Contract for Pfizer drug could be signed next week

Health Minister Vlastimil Válek expects to sign a contract for 100,000 doses of the Covid-19 drug paxlovid, costing CZK 2 billion, with the firm Pfizer next week, he told journalists, adding that 25,000 doses would be delivered each quarter of the year. Pfizer said the first 25,000 can be delivered at the end of March. However, the ministry would like the Czech Republic to receive a part of the first delivery of paxlovid already in mid-February, Válek said. Part of the drug may arrive only after Omicron disappears, but it is effective for all variants of Covid. Germany is the only country that has signed the contract with Pfizer so far, Válek said. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has not completed its assessment yet, but it said EU countries may apply paxlovid shortly after the infection is diagnosed.

SZÚ: Omicron accounts for 35 percent of cases

The share of Omicron among new cases of coronavirus was 35 percent on Wednesday, according to laboratory reports for the National Reference Laboratory of the State Institute of Public Health (SZÚ). It can be as high as 50 percent in some regions, they added. According to Monday's forecast, the omicron is to exceed 50 percent of the total number of cases on about Jan. 13. Test maker Diana Biotechnologies, which analyzes data from about 15,000 tests a day, yesterday said that Omicron already accounts for half of all cases.  

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First case of B.1.640 coronavirus variant detected

The Teaching Hospital in Hradec Králové is the first to detect a case of a person with the B.1.640 coronavirus variant in the Czech Republic. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this variant was first reported from the Democratic Republic of the Congo last September and has been closely monitored since November. Public health officials are now investigating how the man got infected. Four other family members, two men and two women, got gradually infected as well. Those cases are now being examined for the variant.

The WHO divides potentially dangerous Covid variants into three following groups: variants of concern, variants of interest, and variants under monitoring. The B.1.640 and two other variants fall into the third group, while the Omicron is in the first category.

Czechia seventh-worst for cases since the start of pandemic

The number of people infected with coronavirus worldwide has exceeded 300 million, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. In the Czech Republic, 2,517,475 people have become infected since the start of the pandemic, or 234,116 per million inhabitants. The Czech Republic is still the seventh most affected country in the world in terms of the proportion of those infected. Only Andorra (326,925 cases per million inhabitants), Montenegro (291,727), Seychelles (272,651), San Marino (260,129), Slovakia (254,461), and Georgia (238,500) are worse off.

Foreigners without permits face vaccination problems

A large group of foreigners without a residence permit do not have the opportunity to be vaccinated against the Covid in the Czech Republic. They must seek a solution on the edge of the law, daily Právo reported. They use vaccination centers for the homeless. According to experts, this solution is cumbersome and insufficient for many foreigners. "We tried to ensure that people without a residence permit would get access to vaccination as part of the low-threshold vaccination project. But it is very sensitive because the state does not allow it, and moreover, it is a condition that the vaccinated must be identified," a source well acquainted with migration issues told Právo.

January 6, 2022

OVERVIEW Coronavirus spread continues to surge

There were another 7,377 coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic on Wednesday, the smallest number this week, but 1,200 more than a week ago. The daily increases in the infection have been growing for three days in a row week-on-week. There are 2,714 hospitalized, with 482 in serious condition, compared to 3,469 hospitalized and 761 in serious condition a week earlier.

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The Covid death toll now stands at 36,449. In the first half of December, there were over 100 deaths daily, but now the number of victims is lower. On Monday, there were 61 COVID-related deaths, on Tuesday 51 and on Wednesday 20. the toll for the past seven days is 330, and for the month of January is 274.

On Wednesday, health professionals applied 89,844 vaccine doses, the biggest number since Dec. 17. Some 77,184 were booster doses. The first jab was given to 5,359 people.

The reproduction number R is at 1.13, meaning the pandemic is spreading. The incidence number of new cases per 100,000 people over seven days rose to 380 from 368 a day earlier. The incidence rate rose in 10 regions and fell in four. The worst situation is in Prague, where the incidence rate rose to 574 from 514 a day earlier. The best situation is in the Karlovy Vary Region at 219, down from 22 a day earlier.

11:01 Testing firm: Omicron already accounts for half of new cases

The Omicron strain accounts for one-half of the COVID infections in the Czech Republic, test manufacturer Diana Biotechnologies said. "As of Jan. 4, the average proportion of the Omicron variant in the observed laboratories reached 50 percent or up to 5,000 cases of Omicron in a day in the whole of the Czech Republic," Diana Biotechnologies scientific executive Václav Navrátil said.

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"We do not see any laboratory with the proportion of Omicron under 20 percent. If anything, some of them reach up to 75 percent in Prague," he added. "Judging by the latest data, we presume that if nothing changes, this wave may reach the maximum around Jan. 25, when the numbers of new cases may be up to 200,000 daily," Navratil said. However, given testing capacity, only about 50,000 cases could be uncovered.

Válek: New drug for Covid will cost almost CZK 2 billion

Health Minister Vlastimil Válek is negotiating an order for the new antiviral drug paxlovid with Pfizer. The estimated cost of the order is CZK 2 billion. While Válek said he hopes the drug would arrive in the Czech Republic in March, the order will likely be delayed. According to Pfizer, paxlovid is up to 90 percent effective in preventing hospitalization and death in high-risk patients. Experts say future treatment of Covid-19 patients with Omicron will be based on antiviral drugs, as the strain doesn't respond to current monoclonal antibodies.

Health Minister to discuss further measures on Friday

Health Minister Vlastimil Válek on Friday will discuss with experts what further anti-epidemic measures should be taken in the event of a worsening situation. Some ministers, the central management team, and the new expert team of the National Institute for Pandemic Management will also meet at Friday's meeting. "We will discuss what special measures to take in case the situation worsens," Válek added. According to him, possible further steps in health or social services and some other key areas will be considered.

National Institute for Pandemic Management to be established

The government this afternoon will announce the establishment of the new National Institute for Pandemic Management (NIZP). Health Minister Vlastimil Válek and epidemiologist and Roman Chlíbek, who is chairman of the Czech Vaccinological Society ČLS JEP, will give details.

Anti-vaccination protests planned for the weekend

The Croaked Dog (Chcípl pes) anti-lockdown movement announced a series of protests against mandatory Covid vaccination for selected professionals and people 60 and over. The main one will be held in Prague on Wenceslas Square on Sunday, ending in a protest march to Prague Castle. Six other events in various places are scheduled in other cities for Saturday.

January 5, 2022

OVERVIEW New cases back over 10,000 a day after two weeks

The Czech Republic saw 10,169 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, exceeding 10,000 for the first time in two weeks, and a week ago, the daily rise was 9,076. Throughout December, the epidemic was slowing down, but in the past two days, the number of new infections has been on the rise again. Experts expect the number of the infected to keep rising due to the spread of the more infectious Omicron coronavirus variant.

Currently, 2,854 Covid patients are hospitalized, with 506 in serious condition, down from 3,765 hospitalized with 693 serious cases a week ago. A preliminary 24 deaths were reported. The seven-day toll is 341 and the toll for January is 174.

On Tuesday, 85,134 Covid vaccine doses were applied, the highest figure in two weeks. Some 73,423 came for the booster dose while 4,600 got the first jab. A total of 6.67 million people have their vaccination completed in the Czech Republic.

The incidence rate or the number of new cases per 100,000 population in the past seven days has increased again, to 368, which is 10 more than on Tuesday. The incidence rate has increased in nine regions of the Czech Republic, dropped in four, and stagnated in the Hradec Králové Region. It is still the highest in Prague at 514 and the lowest in the Karlovy Vary Region at 221.

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13:50 Covid-19 quarantine and isolation will be reduced to five days

Isolation of coronavirus-infected people and the quarantine of their contacts will be reduced to five days, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said. The change will take effect from Tuesday, Jan. 11. Omicron is more contagious, but people are infectious for less time.

According to earlier statements by members of the government, the reason for shortening the quarantine time was the fear that due to a large number of infected and quarantined people, workers in key areas of the economy could be missing. So far, isolation lasted two weeks, and the quarantine could be terminated after seven days with a negative PCR test if there were no symptoms.

13:50 All employees will be tested twice a week from Jan. 17

All employees will be tested twice a week by antigen tests from Jan. 17, according to Health Minister Vlastimil Válek. In case of a positive test, they will be quarantined for five days. This regimen should work for two to three weeks. Employees who refuse to be tested will be reported to hygiene officials and will have to wear respirators at work or go to the home office. Currently, only workers who have not completed vaccinations or have not had Covid-19 in the last six months have to be tested once a week.

13:50 Vaccinated people entitled to five PCR tests per month

Those who have been vaccinated once, twice or three times will be entitled to five PCR tests per month, Health Minister Vlastimil Válek said.

People aged 18 to 29 show high interest in the booster dose

About 35,000 people in the age group 18 to 29 registered for a booster dose five months after the second vaccine, Smart Quarantine team stated this on Twitter yesterday evening. It was the first day that age group was eligible. Overall, 64,000 people registered for vaccination, with 62,000 interested in a booster dose. Experts are urging people to come for the third dose due to the more contagious Omicron variant. Revaccination significantly reduces the risk of a serious illness that requires hospitalization.

School Covid tests show 0.33 percent of positive cases

The school testing for Covid-19 revealed 3,695 Covid cases out of 1.1 million tests conducted over the Czech Republic on Monday, which means 0.33 percent of samples returned positive, Education Minister Petr Gazdík tweeted. Testing took place at nearly 5,000 schools and positive results appeared in 1,944 of them. These are the results of antigen tests that have not been confirmed with more precise PCR tests.

Govt. to decide today on Covid testing in firms

The Czech government will decide today on the form of Covid testing of employees in firms that will begin on Jan. 17, ČMKOS umbrella trade union leader Josef Stredula said after talks between representatives of the government, unions, and employers. The government should also define how to proceed if employees refuse the test, and whether to shorten the quarantine period. Firms are to get CZK 60 per performed test for coronavirus from the health insurance companies.

Experts promote shorter quarantine, free tests due to Omicron

In reaction to the Omicron Covid variant spreading, experts suggest shortening isolation and quarantine periods, boosting the testing capacities, and introducing free Covid testing for the unvaccinated, the Centre for Modeling of Biological and Social Processes (BISOP) wrote. BISOP experts equally advocate the tracking down of the latest cases with a special emphasis on healthcare workers. The government might discuss these issues today. Some countries already nodded to shorter quarantine and isolation periods.

Govt. should deal with booster dose for older children

The Czech government should start preparing recommendations for revaccinating children aged from 12 to 15 five months after they received the two-dose vaccine, vaccinology society head Roman Chlíbek told journalists. Nearly 200,000 children of this age group have been vaccinated so far, and about 6,000 of them received the vaccine more than five months ago. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has not approved the revaccination of children against coronavirus yet, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided on it on Monday, so it is expected that it will be approved for Europe as well.

Initiative presents petition against mandatory vaccination

Initiative 21 presented a petition against mandatory Covid vaccination of selected professions yesterday. They claim it was signed by over 80,000 people. The online petition is not legally binding. Thousands of signers say they work in the concerned professions as police officers, firefighters, social workers, nurses, rescuers, and soldiers Critics of the petition say there is no way to confirm this. The initiative says pressure over mandatory inoculation may make them give up their profession, which would lead to a shortage of personnel. The movement called on Health Minister Vlastimil Válek to initiate a discussion about mandatory vaccination.

January 4, 2022

OVERVIEW Covid spread on rise again in Czech Republic

There were another 9,333 Covid cases confirmed on Monday, the biggest number since Dec. 21 and roughly 2,500 more than a week ago. Some 2,811 are hospitalized with Covid, up slightly from the previous day, with 535 in serious condition. Updated data show that 2,726 Covid patients were hospitalized on Saturday, the lowest figure since early November.

Throughout December, the epidemic was slowing down in the Czech Republic with the exception of Dec. 31, when there were almost 3,000 infected more in the weekly comparison. However, this was a workday, while a week ago, Czechs were celebrating Christmas and there was much less testing. Monday’s growth is the first after a month within the comparison of two working days.

A preliminary 25 deaths were reported, and the toll for the past seven days is 283. The toll so far for January is 107. On Monday, 69,000 people were vaccinated, while more than 57,084 of them got the booster dose.

The reproduction number R has risen to 1.11, meaning the pandemic is now spreading again.

The incidence number of new cases per 100,000 in the past seven days rose to 358 from 335 a day earlier. The incidence rate has increased in most of the 14 Czech regions except for the Olomouc, Moravia-Silesia, and Hradec Králové regions. It is now the highest in Prague with 475 at, rising by 71 since Monday. It is still the lowest in the Karlovy Vary Region at 202.

All adults are entitled to booster dose after five months

As of today, all adults are entitled to the third dose of Covid-19 vaccination after five months. Until now, people under the age of 30 have had to wait a month longer. In the 18–30 age group, almost 723,000 people have been vaccinated so far, of whom 47,500 have received booster vaccinations by Sunday, Jan. 2. These are people who received the second dose of the vaccine at least half a year ago. From today, at five months after the second dose they can register for vaccination or come to vaccination sites where they do not require registration. The last age group was added on Dec. 27, when the acceleration affected about 155,000 people aged 35 to 44.  

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Schools have a new regime for positive tests on Thursdays

The procedure for a positive antigen test at school will differ on Monday and Thursday in the next two weeks. If someone gets a positive antigen test on Monday, they have to go home as before and undergo a more accurate PCR test. The rest of his class can continue to function without change. It will be different on Thursday.

"If one of the students is positive in Thursday's antigen testing, the whole class enters a test-to-stay regime. This means that every classmate undergoes an antigen test every day until the originally antigen-positive child receives a negative PCR test result," the Education Ministry said. Until then, pupils in the classroom will have to wear masks or respirators, are not allowed to sing and exercise in the gym, and must be separated from other children at school. According to the Education Ministry, a new system for issuing requests for PCR tests has now also started operating in schools.

Omicron to be prevailing variant in two weeks

The more contagious Omicron variant of Covid-19 will probably dominate in the Czech Republic in 10–14 days, the National Institute of Public Health (SZÚ) said, adding that 85 percent of the Covid cases revealed last week were the Delta variant and its subvariants. The results of more than 18,000 coronavirus tests from 74 laboratories showed last week that 15 percent of the cases seem to be the Omicron variant, after discriminatory PCR testing. The National Reference Laboratory estimated that Omicron would form more than 50 percent of all the positive cases in about 10 days or two weeks. About 1,700 cases of Omicron have been identified in the country so far.

Govt. planning for impact of Omicron on critical infrastructure

Deputy Prime Minister Vít Rakušan, who heads the Central Crisis Staff, said Omicron will test the readiness of the Czech Republic in the next 14 days. Rakušan said the Central Crisis Staff asked the representatives of the critical infrastructure to propose what should be done if a considerable part of their employees were affected by Omicron. "We want to be prepared for that situation," he said. Critical infrastructure includes power plants, dams, airports, telecommunication networks as well as strategic financial institutions and state offices.

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Govt. to discuss testing in companies with unions and employers

The chairmen of the governing coalition parties will discuss the planned Covid testing in companies with representatives of employers and employees today. Testing is scheduled to begin in the second half of January. Coalition leaders will also ask for proposals to prepare a program statement, which they plan to submit to the lower house before a vote of confidence in the cabinet on Jan. 12. "We are based on the already approved and thoroughly discussed coalition program," said Prime Minister Petr Fiala said. The coalition program was signed by the coalition leaders in early November.

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Almost 14,000 sign petition against mandatory Covid vaccination

Almost 14,000 people, including roughly 3,200 police officers, firefighters, rescuers, and soldiers, have so far signed a petition against mandatory Covid-19 vaccination of some professional groups in the Czech Republic, representatives of the Initiative 21 said in a press release. However, some users of social media point out that the petition does not require any identity confirmation, and this is why it is hard to say how many of the signers really serve with the Integrated Rescue System (IZS).

Under the directive approved by the previous government, vaccination against Covid-19 is to be mandatory for selected professions, such as medical and social care workers, firefighters, soldiers, police and customs officers, as well as the elderly over 60 as of March. The new five-party cabinet of Petr Fiala plans to delete the mandatory vaccination of people over 60 from the directive.  

January 3, 2022

OVERVIEW Covid keeps slightly falling, but expected to rise again soon

There were another 1,919 Covid cases in the Czech Republic on Sunday, roughly 100 fewer than a week ago. Last week, laboratories detected 35,837 Covid cases. A week ago, it was over 40,600. This shows a weekly fall that has been lasting for about one month. Experts are expecting a growing number of the newly infected due to the spread of the Omicron variant. It is supposed to be dominant in the second half of January.

There are 2,640 Covid patients, with 563 in serious condition. The current number of Covid patients is the lowest since Nov. 3. A week ago, there were roughly 3,383 hospitalized with 721 in serious condition.

A preliminary 20 deaths were reported, and 30 were reported for Jan.1. The seven-day toll is 337.

So far, almost 15.5 million Covid vaccine doses have been administered in the country. Over 6.6 million Czechs have complete vaccination. On Sunday, 14,458 people were inoculated, with 12,430 of them receiving the booster dose. A total of 788 Czechs received the first dose of the vaccine.

The reproduction number R is at 0.99, just under the break-even point of 1.0. The incidence rate of new cases per 100,000 over the past seven days fell to 335 from 336 a day earlier. The incidence rate has increased in six regions. Now it is the highest in Prague, at 402. The situation is now the best in the Karlovy Vary region at 194.  

15:05 Under 1 percent of Covid infected have three vaccine doses

People with the third, booster vaccine dose against Covid-19, roughly one-fifth of the 10.7-million population, made up less than 1 percent of the Covid infected and those with two doses about one-third of all infected in the Czech Republic last November and December, according to the Health Ministry data released today. The share of the fully vaccinated (with two doses) in the infected has been rising with time. They made up under 31 percent of the infected last November and over 35 percent in December. Over 60 percent of the almost 714,000 who tested positive in the past two months were unvaccinated.

Covid testing in schools will be twice a week

Primary and secondary school students return to today and will be tested for Covid. Testing will be twice a week in the first 14 days of the new year. In addition, those who have been vaccinated in the last six months will also be tested. The aim is to capture the onset of the more contagious coronavirus variant Omicron in time. Pupils, students, and school staff will now be tested on Mondays and Thursdays, including those who are vaccinated or have had Covid in the last six months.

Italy, Sweden and Malta turn dark red on travel map

The conditions of return to the Czech Republic from selected European countries will toughen for unvaccinated Czechs as of today, the Health Ministry said. Italy, Sweden, and Malta switch to the highest-risk dark red category on the traveler's map. The Health Ministry updates the traveler's map every week based on data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Latvia, Hungary, Austria will newly appear in the red group, instead of the current dark-red, and Romania will move from the orange moderate-risk group to the green group of countries posing a low risk of COVID infection. The Azores, now orange, will appear in the red group as of Monday. Read more in our full story here.

Rules change in Germany, Austria, and Finland

Passengers from the Czech Republic must prove non-infection status upon entering Germany with a Covid-19 test, vaccination, or recovery from illness. This rule now also applies to children who have reached the age of six. Previously it was 12. More information can be found on the website of the Czech Embassy in Berlin.

In Austria, as of today persons who have been vaccinated with a single dose of Janssen will lose their valid vaccination certificate. The change does not affect entry into Austria, so it is still possible to arrive in a country with one dose of Janssen. However, such a person will not be able to stay in a hotel in Austria, use the ski lifts or visit a restaurant. More information can be found on the website of the Czech Embassy in Vienna.

The Finnish government now requires a negative test result up to 48 hours old for all persons. Unvaccinated people cannot come to Finland at all. The only exception is Finnish citizens, residents, and persons traveling to Finland for the main reasons listed on the border guard website. Up-to-date information can be found on the website of the Czech Embassy in Helsinki.

Monoclonal antibodies not effective for Omicron

When the Omicron variant prevails, doctors will stop administering monoclonal antibodies to the patients, Czech Medical Association head Pavel Dlouhý said, adding that monoclonal antibodies are currently administered to about 4,000 people per week. He said new studies showed that the substances used that prevent the development of a serious course of Covid in about 70 percent for the Delta variant were not effective in the case of Omicron. The main medical instrument will be antiviral substances. Antiviral medications such as remdesivir, new molnupiravir, and paxlovid continue to be effective in the case of Omicron.

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Omicron wave may bring 50,000 cases per day

Experts expect that the number of new infections will steeply rise and roughly 7,000 patients with Covid may demand medical treatment, which would heavily burden the hospitals again. According to the predictions of the Institute of Health Information and Statistics (ÚZIS), the more contagious Omicron variant may result in up to 50,000 new Covid cases per day in the forthcoming wave. Health Minister Vlastimil Válek recently said this wave would culminate in the last week of January and the first week of February. Currently, Omicron is responsible for 10 to 15 percent of the new infections in various regions of the country. The percentage is higher in Prague.

November was worst month for pandemic

Nearly one-fourth of people in the Czech Republic have got infected with Covid as 2.481 million people tested positive for coronavirus since March 2020 and 1.75 million of them caught the disease last year.

Last year, the highest number of new infection cases occurred in November, more than 400,000. Last December and last March, the number of new cases exceeded 300,000. On November 23, 2021, laboratories recorded almost 28,000 positive test results, which has been the highest daily figure so far.

Czech hospitals treated more than 111,000 patients with COVID aged over 16 in 2021. Most of the patients were hospitalized early last year when vaccination was not accessible for all age categories yet. In March, more than 25,000 coronavirus patients were admitted to hospitals. In November, more than 16,000 of them were admitted to hospitals.  

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