Prague launches Christmas vaccination campaign, new Covid-19 cases hit weekend record

A regularly updated for Nov.15-21 with all the latest developments related to the Covid-19 pandemic in the Czech Republic.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 15.11.2021 09:38 (updated on 21.11.2021) Reading time: 18 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 01.12.2021: +21 126

Active cases: 292 975

Currently hospitalized: 6 561

Tests yesterday: 90 588

Vaccinations yesterday: 83 765

Confirmed cases total: 2 193 289

Recovered total: 1 866 997

Vaccinated total: 6 669 174

Tests total: 13 800 895

Deaths total: 33 317

COVID 19 - New cases for last
Data valid as of 04:55:36 02.12.2021
Source: https://onemocneni-aktualne.mzcr.cz

November 21, 2021

vaccination Prague launches new Christmas vaccination campaign

In an effort to increase vaccination rates in the Czech capital, the City of Prague has launched a new "Christmas" campaign. The new campaign utilizes playful Czech-language puns combining holiday sayings and vaccination phrases in posters, on radio, and across other media throughout the city.

The Christmas push is the third vaccination campaign conducted by the City of Prague. All three campaigns were created by the marketing agency DDB Prague; the first two were created free of charge, and the latest partially covered by the city. The total cost of running the Christmas campaign is capped at 300,000 crowns.

More information about getting vaccinated in Prague can be found at the city's official vaccination website and through its dedicated information line at +420 800 160 166. According to Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib, the website receives 80,000 visits per month, and the telephone line fields 250 calls per week.

Overview 14,402 Covid-19 cases Saturday sets new weekend record

The Czech Republic reported 14,402 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, the highest total for a weekend day since the start of the pandemic last March. Saturday's total is 5,000 more cases than one week ago, and the country has a new high of 978 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people over the past week, an increase of 50 people over the past 24 hours.

As of Saturday, there are 4,818 Covid-19 patients in Czech hospitals, with 713 of them in serious condition. Newly updated data shows than 5,040 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 on Thursday, the first day with over 5,000 Covid-19 patients since April.

The total number of Covid-related deaths in the Czech Republic has now risen to 32,079, including 468 coronavirus-related fatalities so far this week. There were 35 Covid-related deaths reported on Saturday, but the latest figures will be updated as new data comes in.

November 20, 2021

Overview Czech Republic reports record high number of new Covid-19 cases

The Czech Republic reported 22,936 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, the highest daily rise in new cases since the start of the pandemic in March, 2020. The incidence rate has also hit a record high at 929 new cases per 100,000 people over the past week.

The total number of Covid-related deaths has now exceeded 32,000, with the Czech Health Ministry reporting 32,005 coronavirus-related fatalities as of this morning. More than 100 people with Covid-19 died on Thursday, the highest daily death toll since April.

As of Friday, 4,890 people with Covid-19 are being treated in Czech hospitals. Among them, 724 are in serious condition. Both figures slightly dropped compared to Thursday. Some hospitals have started reducing elective care services and and are requesting military help due to a high influx of new Covid patients. On Friday, soldiers were deployed to 24 health and social care facilities, and as of Monday, they will be sent to an additional 15 facilities.

Lockdown Czech Republic will not follow Austrian example, says PM Babiš

The Czech Republic will not follow in the footsteps of its neighbor Austria, outgoing PM Andrej Babiš told journalists after a cabinet meeting on Friday.

In reaction to recent record-high number of new Covid-19 cases, Austria is launching a blanket lockdown as of Monday, as well as closing its borders to tourist travel. The lockdown measures will also apply to those who have been vaccinated, unlike current restrictions. The lockdown will last a minimum of 10 days, and a maximum of 20.

Austria will also make vaccination mandatory for all residents as of February 2022.

According to the latest data, the Czech Republic has twice as many Covid-19 patients in hospitals compared to Austria. By contrast, Austria has about one-quarter more new cases per 100,000 people over the past week.

"The Czech Republic will not follow the example of Austria. In no case," Babiš said.

November 19, 2021

OVERVIEW November death toll tops 1,000

There were 13,374 new Covid cases on Thursday, almost 3,000 more than a week ago but fewer than on Tuesday with the record-high daily rise of over 22,000. The number of hospitalizations rose to 4,750, with 696 in serious condition. A week ago, 3,867 were hospitalized, with 560 serious cases. Some 48 deaths were reported for Thursday, but that is likely to be revised. The number for Nov. 15 has increased to 89, the highest since mid-April. The toll for November is not 1,018.

The Health Ministry’s data show that a majority of the newly infected, hospitalized, and deceased are unvaccinated.

The incidence rate of new cases per 100,000 over the past seven days increased to 847 from 819 a day earlier. The reproduction number R is at 1.22. For Prague, the incidence number is 824. In the Olomouc region, where the pandemic is worst, the incidence number is 1,241.

RESTRICTIONS Tests not valid for restaurants, events as of Monday

The government yesterday approved that neither antigen nor PCR tests will be recognized as proof of one's freedom from the Covid infection as of Monday, Nov. 22.

Upon arrival at pubs or restaurants; cultural or sports events including concerts, plays, or cinema; museums, castles, or chateaux; zoos or botanical gardens; body care services; or accommodation services, people will have to prove that they have been either fully vaccinated against Covid or that they contracted the infection in the past 180 days and recovered.

The change applies only to places where people currently need to show proof. It does not apply for example, to supermarkets or other shops. Respirator requirements also remain the same.

People who have already purchased tickets to events or venues and can no longer use them are entitled to refunds or vouchers.

Exceptions from this rule will apply to minors under 18 and those who have received their first jab already or got the second vaccine dose less than 14 days ago. However, they have to show a PCR test.

Those who cannot get inoculated for health reasons will have to show a negative PCR test. Furthermore, their GP must enter their health incapacity to get vaccinated into the Information System of Infectious Diseases (ISIN).

Minors under 18, people with unfinished Covid vaccination, and those who cannot get the jab will be entitled to five PCR tests per month covered by the public health insurance. The vaccinated will be eligible for two PCR tests for free a month. Antigen tests will no longer be reimbursed from insurance.

PCR as well as professional antigen tests will be recognized for visits to health and social care facilities. However, visitors to prisons will have to show either the vaccination or the recovery certificate, or a PCR test. Defense lawyers will have an exception from this rule.

University student dormitories will stop accepting Covid self-testing kits. As a result, only the vaccinated, the recovered, and those with a PCR test not older than 72 hours and an antigen test taken in the past 24 hours will be accepted. Students will have to show the test at their dormitories once a week.

VACCINATION VZP to send vaccination teams to companies

Mobile vaccination teams will be offered by public insurer Všeobecná zdravotní pojišťovna (VZP) for companies in regions with a low vaccination rate. VZP announced that on Monday, November 22, it will start contacting companies with more than 500 employees, where less than 70 percent of them are vaccinated. VZP will also launch a website within a few days, where companies with a smaller number of employees will be able to actively apply for vaccinations. The teams will start operating in December and will work until the end of March.

The capacities of vaccination centers will be strengthened and there is an effort to reduce the time that registered people will wait for vaccination. In the last three weeks, an average of more than 40,000 vaccination doses has been given on working days.

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Lines have again started to form at walk-in vaccination centers, especially those giving out the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, such as Prague's main train station.

SCHOOLS Government to introduce Covid testing

The Czech government will introduce regular blanket Covid testing at schools every Monday for children who are not vaccinated or recovered, outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said. He assumes that the new anti-epidemic rules may remain in force until the end of February. Professional antigen test kits will be used at schools and the government discussed their purchase. Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said that school testing would be arranged so that only individuals go to isolation after testing positive.

COMPANIES Covid testing planned for the unvaccinated

Testing for Covid is expected to be required again at companies and workplaces. Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlíček said the extraordinary measures should be approved on Friday and come into force on Monday. Any person going to work will have to show either the vaccination certificate, a confirmation that they contracted the infection in the past 180 days and recovered, or a negative test. Simultaneously, results of antigen self-test kits will be recognized if performed under monitoring. Havlíček said the government would likely approve mandatory testing for the vaccinated over 60, too. The corporate testing will concern all sorts of companies as well as state institutions and municipalities.

November 18, 2021

OVERVIEW One-week incidence number approaches record

There were 14,119 new confirmed Covid cases on Wednesday, roughly 8,000 fewer than on Tuesday, but more than a week ago and more than on Monday, the latest Health Ministry data show. More than 1,000 people in the risk group aged over 65 tested positive. Wednesday was a holiday, and fewer tests were conducted.

Hospitals are treating 4,440 coronavirus patients, about 700 more than a week ago. Compared to earlier this week, there was a slight drop in Covid hospitalizations. Currently, 15 percent of the hospitalized, or 663 people, are in serious condition. This morning, 21 percent of hospital beds equipped with lung ventilators were available and 24 percent of regular oxygenated beds.

There were 27 deaths reported for Wednesday, but that is likely to be revised upward. Monday’s figure has been revised to 87, the most since April 11. The toll for November is 908.

The incidence rate of new cases per 100,000 people over seven days rose to 819 from 813 a day earlier. This is close to the record incidence rate that occurred in the country in October 2020 and early January 2021. It was about 600 cases per population a week ago. The reproduction number R is 1.24. In Prague, the incidence number is 806. In the Olomouc region, where the pandemic is worst, the incidence number is 1,241.  

RESTRICTIONS Gov’t likely to require vaccination or recovery for restaurants, mass events

Andrej Babiš’s government is likely to vote today to tighten Covid restrictions. The new rules would take effect on Nov. 22. The Health Ministry will propose to the government that only a certificate of completed vaccination or proof of Covid-19 in the last six months should be valid for visiting restaurants, monuments, museums, or zoological and botanical gardens, attending sport or cultural events, using cosmetic and beauty services and accommodation. Certificates do not need to be presented to go shopping, so those who are not vaccinated or recovered can still shop.

Exceptions to the planned non-recognition of tests will be available to children between the ages of 12 and 18, who will be able to prove themselves by PCR test where certificates are required; younger children may no longer have to provide such proof.

Exceptions to the measure will also apply to people who have received the first dose of vaccination or are within 14 days after the second or people who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons. These people will need to submit a PCR test.

It will still be possible to submit a negative test as a Covid certificate at the beginning of a spa treatment or for accommodation in student dormitories. PCR and antigen tests will also be recognized for visits to hospitals and social care facilities and for fathers at the birth of their children.

The fully vaccinated will still have the right to two PCR tests covered by insurance monthly.

Health Minister Adam Vojtěch called on people to avoid big crowds and limit their contacts. They should wear respirators and keep distancing at outdoor events, such as Christmas markets, as well. Firms should require Covid certificates from their employees and enable them to work from home, he said.

President Miloš Zeman said on TV Nova that he supported the strategy and will recommend that incoming Prime Minister Petr Fiala adopt them.

SCHOOLS Covid testing to end after Nov. 29

Blanket testing for Covid at schools will not continue after Nov. 29. If an infection cluster appears at school or in a firm, the people there will be tested with PCR method at the request of the respective regional public health office. Some 42 mobile laboratory sampling teams, 25 military teams, and 50 sampling ambulances are prepared for such cases.

November 17, 2021

Overview Over 22,000 more people infected on Tuesday

On Tuesday, the Czech Republic had the highest number of Covid-19 infections per day since the epidemic began last March. There were 22,479 newly infected, about half as many as on the previous Tuesday. The number of hospitalizations also grew, rising a quarter over the past week to 4,425.

The incidence number, the number of newly infected in seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, has risen from 739 cases on Tuesday to 813 cases today. Last week on Wednesday, the incidence number was still under 600 cases per 100,000 inhabitants per week.

On Tuesday, the number of coronavirus tests increased over the previous week. About 69,000 antigen and 38,000 PCR tests were performed the previous Tuesday, compared to over 79,000 antigen and 43,000 PCR tests this week. However, due to the record increase in the number of confirmed diseases, despite the increase in the number of tests, the proportions of those tested increased significantly.

There were 84 Covid-related deaths on Monday, similar to the whole of July, August, and September combined. There are 848 deaths total in November, and 333 in October.

Restrictions Czechia to introduce 'Bavarian' anti-COVID model as of Monday

UPDATED (13:50) Outgoing PM Andrej Babiš has announced that the Czech Republic will adopt the Bavarian model as of Monday, meaning tests will no longer be accepted as proof of a clean bill of health. The cabinet will vote on the measure on Thursday with Babiš saying most ministers back the move. "From then, only proof of vaccination and recovery from Covid will be acknowledged when it comes to accessing services and mass events. Self-testing will be completely canceled, we will switch to the PCR-test model," Babiš said.

Antigen tests will be used only to test medical and social facilities' staff and clients, he said. Selected ministers will meet to further consult this evening; the Government Council for Health Risks will meet on Thursday morning. The PM called on Czechs to get vaccinated against Covid. He said the unvaccinated face a nine times higher probability of a severe course of the infection or even death. The Ministry is also recommending that companies require employees to get a certificate of vaccination, test, or infection. They should also permit people to work from home.

For people who cannot be vaccinated due to health reasons, their doctor must register the contraindication in the ISIN system, where tests or vaccinations are also registered.

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Those who have only received the first dose of the vaccine will need to submit a PCR test as a Covid certificate. They will be entitled to up to five per month. Children from 12 to 18 years of age will be able to prove themselves with a Covid certificate by PCR; children up to 12 do not need confirmation.

Schools Testing reveals 3,423 new cases

The latest round of coronavirus testing conducted at Czech schools in selected districts on November 8 revealed 3,423 new infection cases, 2,716 at elementary schools, and 707 at secondary schools, according to the Health Ministry. Some 495,000 students underwent testing in the second round and about 0.7 percent of them tested positive. In the first round on November 1, testing revealed 699 Covid cases among some 121,000 students.

In most districts, the coronavirus incidence rate was higher in the second round of testing. On Monday, November 15, students were once again tested in 22 districts and Prague. The results are not yet available as positive antigen tests are being confirmed by a PCR test.

Poll Unvaccinated less cautious about Covid than vaccinated

Unvaccinated people behave less cautiously among others than vaccinated people do when it comes to Covid-19 protection, says an October poll conducted by P&Q Research. The research found that eighty-three percent of the vaccinated wear respirators, while only 60 percent of the unvaccinated do the same.

Roughly one in two vaccinated people avoid overcrowded spaces, but only 37 percent of the unvaccinated do the same, the poll showed. Only one-third of people who either experienced Covid symptoms or encountered a Covid-positive person took a Covid test. Pollsters say that the vaccinated rarely get tested despite contact with an infected person or despite having symptoms of the infection.

November 16, 2021

OVERVIEW New Covid cases could reach 50,000 per day

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The Czech Republic saw 11,514 new confirmed Covid cases on Monday, some 2,250 more than a week ago. The number of people hospitalized reached 4,296, up from 3,393 a week earlier. There are 636 in intensive care, up from 476 on the week. The Institute of Health Information and Statistics (ÚZIS) warns that if the epidemic spreads at the same rate in the coming days, there may be more than 50,000 Covid cases per day in the country in early December.

For Monday, 45 deaths were reported, though that is likely to be revised upward. The number of Nov. 10 has been revised to 70, the most since April 19. the toll for November is now at 775.

The incidence rate of new cases per 100,000 people over seven days rose to 739 from 718 a day earlier. The reproduction number R is at 1.24. The incidence number for Prague is 705. In the Olomouc region, where the pandemic is worst, the incidence number is 1,127.  

RESTRICTIONS Cabinet to deal with tougher rules again on Thursday

The outgoing government did not agree on tougher anti-epidemic rules yesterday after a three-hour discussion as it has been considering various models, and the next cabinet meeting is scheduled for Thursday. Among other options, the cabinet has been thinking about recognizing only PCR tests as proof of freedom from infection. The government also is considering the Austrian model that imposes many restrictions on unvaccinated people, including restricted freedom of movement, and the Bavarian model that does not recognize any tests at all.

HOSPITALS Two-thirds of Covid cases in intensive care are unvaccinated

The situation in hospitals is not as dramatic as last year, but it is very serious, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said. "The number of the unvaccinated at the intensive care wards is dramatic because the life of these people is at risk," Babiš said. According to the Health Ministry's data, 64 percent of the hospitalized at intensive care units in November have not been vaccinated. There are 4,296 hospitalized people out of whom 635 are at intensive care units. Currently, 59.9 percent of the 10.7 million in the Czech Republic have been vaccinated, some 68 percent of people over 12 for whom the vaccine is available.  

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VARIANTS New Delta variant may be more contagious

Three cases of the new coronavirus subvariant SARS-CoV-2 Delta AY 4.2 have been detected in the Czech Republic. According to the results of studies so far, it may be more contagious, but antibodies to it work the same as to other Delta variants, the State Institute of Public Health (SZÚ) said in a press release. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is focusing on the new variant and is examining its possible greater resistance to vaccination or treatment. In approximately 98 percent of recently analyzed samples, the Delta variant or its subtypes were detected.  

TRACING Hygiene stations falling behind on contacting new cases

Hygienic stations have contacted only a quarter of Covid-19 positive cases on average within 24 hours of the test result in the last week, and have also reached 62 percent of their contacts. On average, people report 1.96 risky contacts in the last week. Regions differ significantly in tracing speed and number of reported contacts, according to trace data from the Smart Quarantine project. The worst case is in the Plzeň region, where only 8 percent of positive cases are contacted in 24 hours. The best case is in the Karlovy Vary region, where three-quarters are contacted.

TRAVEL U.S. CDC issues warning against travel to Czech Republic

 The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising people against travel to the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Iceland due to the recent increases in Covid numbers. The travel recommendation for these countries has been raised to Level Four: Very High. Should a trip into these areas be necessary, the CDC recommends U.S. citizens be fully vaccinated before traveling.

November 15, 2021

OVERVIEW Third-highest weekend number of new cases

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising people against travel to the Czech Republic, Hungary, Guernsey, and Iceland due to the recent increases in Covid numbers. The travel recommendation for these areas has been raised to Level Four: Very High. Should a trip into these areas be necessary, the CDC recommends U.S. citizens be fully vaccinated before traveling.

There were 5,650 Covid cases on Sunday, up from 3,005 a week earlier. It is the highest figure for Sunday since Oct. 25, 2020, and the third-highest weekend figure since the start of the pandemic. Hospitalizations rose to 3,803, with 572 in serious condition. A week ago, 2,938 were hospitalized. Some 28 deaths were reported for Sunday, but that is likely to be revised, as the daily death toll has been over 50 since Nov. 9. The toll for November is 680.

The incidence number of new cases per 100,000 people in seven days rose to 718 from Saturday’s 693. The reproduction number R is 1.29. For Prague, the incidence number is 693. In the Olomouc region, where the pandemic is worst, the incidence number is 1,093.

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RESTRICTIONS University students to wear respirators

As of today, university students will have to wear respirators as part of their classes. The extraordinary measure will apply in classrooms where at least 50 students meet. Currently, university students are only required to wear respirators indoors if they are not seated. In primary and secondary schools, pupils who refuse to test and do not have proof of recovery already must wear a face mask during lessons, among other restrictions.

Workers in hospitals and other inpatient facilities who have not been vaccinated against Covid will have to be tested once a week starting Nov. 15, with the first test no later than Nov. 22. The validity of the tests for visits to social care facilities is also being shortened. An antigen test is now valid for one day and the PCR test for three days.

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VACCINATION State to cover vaccination costs for long-term residents

Vaccinations of foreigners who are legal long -term residents will be paid for by the state as of today. Previously, they had to pay on the spot and get reimbursed from private insurance.

Outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said in a video he posted on Facebook today that 70.5 percent of the adult Czech population participated in the vaccination. "We have vaccinated 84.5 percent of the threatened seniors aged over 65," he said. There are over 307,764 people aged over 64 in the country who have not been vaccinated against COVID yet, and 56,640 of them have recovered from the disease," he said.

SCHOOLS Testing to take place in 23 districts

School children will be tested for Covid in 23 districts including Prague. These same districts were tested a week ago, based on the high levels of Covid in the population. The government had said this would be the last round of testing but then changed its mind due to the spread of the pandemic. Covid testing in schools will now also take place across the Czech Republic on Nov. 22 and 29.  

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TRAVEL Andorra, Balearic Islands move to Covid high-risk group

Andorra and the Balearic Islands will move among Covid high-risk countries that are marked red on the Czech traveler’s map as of today. This will tighten the rules of return from them for the unvaccinated. There are changes concerning other countries, but they do not influence the regime of arrival to the Czech Republic. The Health Ministry updates the map every week based on data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Spain and the Vatican are now the only low-risk areas in Europe next week.

The red countries in Europe posing a high infection risk will be Andorra, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Cyprus, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Germany, Norway, Poland, San Marino, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Balearic Islands. The dark-red category with a very high infection risk will newly include Hungary, Greece, and the Netherlands that will join Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Croatia, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia as well as the other third countries outside the EU.

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