Only PCR tests for Covid-19 will be accepted, says Czech Health Minister

A daily update with all the latest developments related to the Covid-19 pandemic in the Czech Republic for Nov. 8-14, 2021.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 08.11.2021 09:58 (updated on 15.11.2021) Reading time: 19 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 14, 2021

overview Czech Republic reports weekend high in number of new Covid-19 cases

A state of emergency due to Covid-19 was declared in the Czech Republic on March 12, 2020. It was declared for a second time on October 5, 2020 and repeatedly extended until it ended on April 11, 2020. In total, the Czech Republic was under the state of emergency for 254 days during the pandemic.

The Czech Republic reported 9,161 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, which is about 3,400 more than a week ago and the highest daily rise on a Saturday or Sunday so far this year, according to data released by the Health Ministry. There are now 3,740 patients with Covid-19 in Czech hospitals, 150 fewer than on Friday but about one thousand more than a week ago.

Discussion State of emergency not needed, says head of Christian Democrats

The current Covid-19 situation in the Czech Republic does not require a state of emergency to be declared, Christian Democrat leader Marian Jurečka said on CNN Prima News today, adding that the options under the current pandemic law are sufficient. Former prime minister Vladimír Špidla, meanwhile, said he expects the epidemic situation to become so serious that in a few weeks a state of emergency will be the only reasonable solution.

The coronavirus incidence in the country is now 693 new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, higher than on Saturday when the rate was 661 new cases per 100,000 people. A month ago in mid-October, the incidence rate was below 100 new cases per 100,000 people, and has been steeply rising since then.

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TESTING Czech Republic to only recognize PCR tests, says Health Minister

The Czech government in resignation will decide that only more-reliable PCR tests for Covid-19 are to be recognized, and not antigen tests or at-home tests, Health Minister Adam Vojtěch has announced on Twitter. The measure will take effect once approved by the AntiCovid team formed by the future coalition government.

The AntiCovid team has rejected calls for mandatory vaccination, as well as a nationwide lockdown. The team also called for an increase in testing capacities, and said that other institutions besides public health offices should be monitoring whether anti-epidemic restrictions are violated, it said in a press release.

November 13, 2021

OVERVIEW 14,199 new cases reported Friday, second-highest rise this week

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The Czech Republic reported 14,199 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Friday, nearly 5,000 more than a week ago, and the incidence rate is now at 660.5 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days. Yesterday, the incidence rate stood at 614 cases per 100,000 people. The daily rise in new cases was the second-highest this week, following 14,555 new cases on Tuesday.

In March, when the daily increase in new cases was similar to current numbers, Czech hospitals treated up to 9,500 patients with Covid-19. More than 3,800 coronavirus patients are now being treated in Czech hospitals, and their number increased by about 1,000 compared to the previous Friday.

Given the worsening situation, the outgoing Czech government decided on Friday to order blanket coronavirus testing in all schools on November 22 and November 29. Other restrictive measures may be introduced by the outgoing cabinet next week, after agreement with members of the new incoming government.

protests Prague condemns actions of Golden Pin group

The City of Prague has condemned the actions of the Golden Pin (Zlatý špendlík) protest group, which has flooded the inboxes of local hygiene stations with requests for information. The Ministry of Health will file a criminal complaint against the group, according to Health Minister Adam Vojtěch, who said that "10,000 unnecessary requests" had been received as of yesterday evening. The Golden Pin group is an initiative from Czech singer Daniel Landa.

Earlier this week, the group urged its followers to send email requests for information to hygiene stations across the Czech Republic. Under the country's Act on Free Access to Information, the stations are obliged to provide this information on their activities. However, the amount of requests they have received has been overwhelming.

On Friday, members of Prague's City Council met to discuss the situation. They also reached out to the Czech Republic's Central Crisis Staff for help.

"We are working hard to prevent the collapse of the healthcare system. That is why we strongly condemn the activities of all anti-vaxxers who are trying to paralyze the functioning of hygiene stations," says Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Hlubuček in a press release.

"These activities usually stem from consuming misinformation and lies on the internet. We all look forward to seeing you back and returning to a normal lifestyle. However, this will not happen until we get Covid under control. And this will not happen without well-functioning hygiene stations."

"I firmly believe that the Central Crisis Staff will find a legal or practical way to release sanitary stations from the obligation to answer questions that go beyond the meaning of the Act on Free Access to Information," says Prague healthcare councilor Milena Johnová.

"In a situation where we are literally vitally dependent on the activities of hygienic stations, we cannot allow them to be blocked by senseless work."

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November 12, 2021

OVERVIEW New cases exceed 10,000 again

There were 10,395 new Covid cases reported for Thursday, up from 8,439 a week ago. However, compared to Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday's increase was several thousand lower. Some 3,557 people are hospitalized with the Covid, roughly 900 more than last Thursday. There are 542 cases in serious condition.

The number of Covid deaths has increased to 31,355 since the beginning of the epidemic, with 28 more people on Thursday. This figure is likely to be revised with increased numbers, however. The death count for Nov. 10 has been revised to 65, the most since the end of April. The toll for November is now at 494.

The incidence number of new cases per 100,000 over seven days has risen to 614 from 596 a day earlier. The reproduction number R is at 1.24. For Prague, the incidence number is 585. In the Olomouc region, where the pandemic is worst, the incidence number is 982.

SCHOOLS Govt. approves comprehensive Covid testing of schoolchildren

Blanket Covid testing of children using antigen tests will be conducted at all primary and secondary schools in the Czech Republic on Nov. 22 and 29. The government approved it today and Education Minister Robert Plaga announced it on Twitter. Firefighters will distribute the tests to schools next week. The testing only applies to unvaccinated pupils. Plaga said the testing should help improve the protection of schools from the Covid infection spread and secure regular instruction. Other experts disagree, saying it was inefficient and that instead, schoolchildren with Covid symptoms should be tested by the more precise PCR method in the infection clusters.

VACCINATION Hospital uncovers cases of vaccination cheats

The Jihlava hospital has uncovered cases of vaccination cheats in its Covid vaccination center. Applicants turned up and got registered, which is a condition for gaining the vaccination certificate, but then left without getting jabbed. The cheats pretended to seek a single-dose vaccine in the large-scale vaccination center. The organizers uncovered the cases after finding out that the number of applicants on the given days slightly exceeded the number of applied doses. The hospital has now reinforced the vaccination center staff to tighten the supervision of the jabbing procedure. It is also considering filing a criminal complaint against the perpetrators.

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HOSPITALS Czech army called in to assist in hospitals

Forty soldiers will help in hospitals from Monday due to the Covid-19 epidemic, the Army said on Twitter. The first requests for assistance were received by soldiers through the Central Crisis Staff (ÚKŠ) from Moravia. The Army is involved in the operation of Smart Quarantine and Tracing, among other tasks. In July, in connection with the approval of the rewards, the Ministry of Defense stated that 11,853 professional soldiers helped manage the coronavirus epidemic in an emergency.

TESTING Fewer people undergo preventive Covid tests

Fewer people have sought preventive Covid tests in November since the testing is not for free for non-vaccinated adults anymore, Health Ministry data show. In the first 10 days of November, about 485,000 people underwent preventive testing, while in the previous 10 days more than 629,000 were preventively tested. However, the number of those who underwent the testing on a doctor’s recommendation because they had coronavirus symptoms was nearly two times higher in November than in the last 10 October days.

TRAVEL Czech Republic to be on Germany’s high-risk list

Germany will list the Czech Republic among countries with a high risk of coronavirus infection as of Sunday, Czech ambassador to Germany Tomáš Kafka said. The new rules will mainly cause complications for unvaccinated Czechs, who must newly undergo a 10-day quarantine upon arrival, which may be prematurely ended by a negative test after five days. However, the trips will be also more difficult for the vaccinated if they travel to Germany with children under 12 for whom a vaccine is not yet available. Children under 12 will not have to present any test and their quarantine is automatically set at five days. There are also requirements for filling in digital arrival forms, and rules regarding short cross-order trips.

restrictions No tightening of anti-Covid measures announced

Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch did not reveal stricter anti-Covid measures at today's press briefing, adding that he was waiting for the stance of the next government. Vojtěch said that he should get the written stance of the future government by Saturday and the outgoing cabinet could approve the proposals on Tuesday. An adaptation of the "Austrian model" of proof of vaccine being required for social activities, had been anticipated.

November 11, 2021

Overview Over 13,000 new Covid cases on Wednesday

Tests in the Czech Republic Wednesday confirmed 13,502 new cases of coronavirus which is some 4,000 more in a week-on-week comparison. There are 3,452 patients hospitalized with Covid, 491 of whom are in serious condition, according to the latest data from the Health Ministry.

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The seven-day incidence number jumped to 596 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The reproduction number remains at 1.2. Thirty deaths were reported yesterday.

On Tuesday, the ministry recorded the highest increase since March 12, tests revealed more than 14,500 infected. There have been a total of 31,289 deaths with Covid since the beginning of the epidemic; 56 people died on Tuesday, according to data on the Ministry of Health, and 30 deaths were reported yesterday.

Restrictions New measures to be introduced on Friday

The outgoing Czech cabinet will approve further anti-Covid measures on Friday morning that it says will prove crucial to slowing the spread of the virus, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) has told reporters. Health Minister Adam Vojtěch (ANO) is discussing the new measures with the incoming government coalition.

On Wednesday, the Czech PM dismissed the idea that the measures might involve a total lockdown in the Czech Republic, however, it’s possible that the restrictions announced tomorrow could limit socializing for the unvaccinated.

The Government Council for Health Risks proposed in its meeting this morning implementing the "Austrian model" as a way of stopping the surge of cases in the Czech Republic during the holiday months in the Czech Republic. The council is a permanent advisory body to the government formed due to the Covid-19 epidemic.

This would mean that mean a test is no longer enough to attend culture or sports events, only vaccination or confirmation that one has already had the illness.

Also approved yesterday, staff in hospitals and other inpatient facilities who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 will be required to undergo testing as of Nov. 15.

Testing Experts recommend immediate testing in schools and offices

Epidemiologists and other experts recommend introducing Covid testing at schools and work, reinforcing the testing capacity, and adjusting the price of the testing so that the unvaccinated do not avoid it. Additional emphasis should be placed on tracking down the coronavirus infected and their contacts, experts say. There are more Covid-infected children than during previous epidemic waves when the schools were closing.

Seventy percent of the adult population in the 10.7-million-person Czech Republic has already received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, while 68 percent are fully vaccinated, according to newly released data from Smart Quarantine and the Health Ministry.

Seventy percent of adult Czechs receive at least one Covid jab

At present, 70 percent of the adult population is vaccinated. Altogether, 6.37 million Czechs have received at least one Covid vaccine dose and 6.16 million people have already completed inoculation.

Of the segment of the population eligible for the vaccine (12 and over), 66 percent have been fully vaccinated. As for the whole population, 57.7 percent is fully vaccinated.

Experts fear the decreased immunity of elderly people could lead to a high number of hospitalizations and Covid-related deaths after Christmas. Experts call for immediate testing to in schools, institutions, and workplaces at least once a week.

November 10, 2021

OVERVIEW Highest number of Covid cases since March

Tests confirmed 14,539 new Covid cases on Tuesday, the highest figure since March 12 and nearly 50 percent more than a week ago, when it was 9,911. Some 3,295 people are hospitalized with Covid, also about 50 percent more than a week ago, and 486 are in serious condition. There were 31 deaths reported for Tuesday, and previous figures have been revised. The November toll now stands at 378.

The incidence number of new cases per 100,000 over the past seven days hit 558, up from 515 a day earlier. The reproduction number R is at 1.22. For Prague, the incidence number is 532. For Olomouc, where the pandemic is worst, the incidence number is 883.

RESTRICTIONS University students to wear respirators in large classes

From Nov. 15, 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.

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.

According to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, additional measures will be discussed by the Government Council for Health Risks on Thursday morning and by the government on Friday.

COMPLIANCE Using a forged Covid certificate is a crime

The Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office (NSZ) said forgery of Covid certificates or presentation of a forged or altered certificate can be considered a criminal offense of forgery and alteration of a public document, which has a penalty of up to three years. The NES issued the opinion on counterfeiting digital Covid passports at the initiative of the police. According to the NSZ, due to the obligation to show a valid Covid certificate, an increase in forgery can be expected.

Separately, it was announced that 4.1 million people have the Tečka application for displaying Covid certificates on their mobile phones. Around 600,000 of them use it daily.

VACCINATION Long-term legal residents to be vaccinated for free

Foreigners who are long-term legal residents of the Czech Republic will now have Covid-19 vaccinations paid for by the Health Ministry budget. The only thing they will be charged for is the actual application of the vaccine itself. Free coverage of Covid vaccine costs is effective immediately, the health minister said following today's meeting.

During Wednesday’s meeting, the government also approved compulsory testing of unvaccinated hospital and other care facility workers from next Monday, November 15. These tests will be conducted regularly once a week.

SCHOOLS Ministries disagree on further Covid testing

Blanket Covid testing of children at Czech schools has not considerably helped curb the epidemic, since the virus is spread in the entire population, Deputy Health Minister Martina Koziar Vašáková told reporters yesterday. She said particular Covid infection clusters should be examined according to the decision by the regional public health offices like in the case of other epidemics, while blanket measures should not be taken. She added that the current testing has “brought nothing.”

Education Minister Robert Plaga called on the Health Ministry in a letter to continue with the Covid testing at schools. He also called it unacceptable to test pupils who have a positive antigen test by the PCR method at the regular sampling points that are already overburdened.

Monday's tests of schoolchildren in Central Bohemia showed 373 positive results from 40,323 antigen tests. PCR tests are still being checked for whether they are really infected with Covid. Results for Prague have not been announced.

HOSPITALS Karlovy Vary region bans hospital visits

From today, a visit ban will apply to regional hospitals in the Karlovy Vary region, with a few exceptions. Karlovy Vary is the region that is currently least affected by Covid. The ban is due to the capacity of the infectious disease departments being exhausted. Many hospitals in other regions have also stopped or limited visits, and have delayed non-essential medical procedures.

November 9, 2021

OVERVIEW Number of new cases again exceeded 9,000

There were 9,253 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, some 1,660 more than a week ago. It was the fourth time since April 23 that the number of new cases exceeded 9,000. the number of hospitalized also continues to increase and is now at 3,114 with 436 in serious condition. There were 22 deaths reported on Monday and previous figures were revised. The toll for November now stands at 312. The incidence number of new cases per 100,000 over the past seven days reached 514, up by 15 from the previous day. The reproduction number R is at 1.23. For Prague, the incidence number is 501. In the Olomouc region, where the epidemic is worst, the incidence number is 806.

The Delta variant, in particular its AY.43 subtype, still prevails in the Czech Republic, the National Institute of Public Health (SZÚ) said in its regular report. This subtype makes up some 47 percent, while the other subtypes, AY.4 and AY.39, are in up to 10 percent of positive samples, and the original Delta variant appears in about 16 percent.

COMPLIANCE Two Prague restaurants cited during inspections

In Prague, hygienists inspected 15 restaurants, three cinemas, and three theaters during national inspections on Thursday and Saturday. They initiated administrative proceedings against two restaurants for failure. They also checked 455 people for the necessary confirmation of non-infectiousness for Covid. Six of them were fined by the police for a total of CZK 3,000, and eleven were warned for not wearing respiratory protection, according to the Prague Hygiene Station.

The Czech News Agency (ČTK) reported that barely half of the visitors and exhibitors wore respirators at the International Engineering Fair in Brno on Monday. Organizers said that rules were explained at check-in and were printed on tickets. ČTK says it has been in contact with hygienists over the matter.

VACCINATION New campaign uses 'brutal' images from hospitals

The Health Ministry has decided to persuade citizens to get Covid vaccinations with a new campaign that Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has called “brutal.” The campaign uses about a dozen real images of people who were in intensive care units and connected to devices.

Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said the campaign is brutal, and realistic so people know what it looks like in hospitals and know what patients who have not been vaccinated and end up in intensive care units look like. The campaign will run in print, online media, and social networks. It is inspired by the anti-smoking campaign on cigarette packs.

Ministry of health campaign
The Czech Ministry of Health's new campaign is being described as "brutal".

Interest in the COVID vaccination has increased. On Monday, health professionals applied over 39,953 vaccine doses, which was over 600 more than on the previous Monday. Last week, interest in the vaccination was considerably higher than in the previous week. On two days, the number of doses was over 50,000, while a week prior, the daily maximum was only 43,000, and the week before that, just 32,000. Currently, 6.1 million Czechs have complete vaccination.

SCHOOLS The first wave of school tests found 699 Covid cases

The first wave of testing of unvaccinated pupils for Covid-19 revealed 699 cases of infection, based on results from 95 percent of schools, the Health Ministry announced. The proportion of positive samples was about 0.6 percent. A total of 121,000 pupils and students were tested on Nov. 1 in the districts of České Budějovice, Ostrava-město, Prostějov, Prachatice, Brno-venkov, Přerov, Opava and Karviná. Greater numbers were detected in upper secondary schools, where social contacts are usually more frequent, the ministry said in a press release.

Official results from the larger second wave of testing, which included Prague, have not been announced, but some positive cases were reported by school officials and some classes have been quarantined. A third and for now final round takes place Nov. 15.

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November 8, 2021

OVERVIEW Death toll crosses 31,000

Laboratories confirmed 2,996 new Covid cases on Sunday, about half of the figure for Saturday but 230 higher than a week earlier. However, the number of patients hospitalized with coronavirus increased from 1,703 last week to 2,697, with 386 in serious condition. In total since the start of the pandemic, 31,053 people have died from Covid. There were 12 deaths reported for Sunday, but that will likely be revised. Last week, 30 to 46 people died daily from Covid. The number of deaths for November is 244.

The incidence number of new cases per 100,000 over seven days reached 499, up from 497 a day earlier. The reproduction number R is at 1.29. For Prague, the incidence number is 482. In the Olomouc region, where the epidemic is worst, the incidence number is 824.

On Saturday, the Czech Republic accepted two Covid patients from Romania. A man and a woman on artificial ventilation are being treated in the Bulovka and Motol hospitals. At the end of October, Romania was one of the countries most affected by the pandemic in the European Union.

RESTRICTIONS Antigen tests won’t be accepted for large events

From Nov. 22, only a PCR test, vaccination, or recovery will be accepted for entry to events with over 1,000 people. Antigen tests will not be accepted. A maximum capacity of 1,000 people is allowed to attend outdoor events such as fun fairs, festivals, or markets from the same date. Currently, the limit is 2,000. According to the Health Ministry, restrictions on outdoor events will not affect culture or sport.

When buying ski passes, people will have to prove their non-infectiousness, respiratory protection will be required in closed cabins. Mountain goers must keep a distance of 1.5 meters apart.

The government also approved that the validity of tests for visits to social facilities be shortened. The antigen will be valid for one day, the PCR test for three. Weekly testing of employees in these facilities, which is mandatory for the unvaccinated, will not be affected by the changes.

The anti-epidemic measures were approved by the government on Friday. The Health Ministry said that if the epidemic worsened, further tightening of regime measures is possible, but not a lockdown.  

VACCINATION Health ministry supports vaccination for children over 5

Health Minister Adam Vojtěch and South Bohemia Regional Governor Martin Kuba, head of the Association of Czech Regions, support Covid-19 vaccination for children over 5 years old, they said on CNN Prima News. Vojtěch reiterated that the Czech Republic had ordered the Covid vaccines for children. Prague Motol Teaching Hospital director Miloslav Ludvík said parents should first consult a pediatrician before vaccinating small children.

As soon as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approves the vaccine, it can start being administered, Vojtěch said. The EMA announced in mid-October it had just started assessing the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for children. Children over 12 have been able to register for inoculation since July 1.  

SCHOOLS Covid testing taking place in 31 districts

Unvaccinated pupils in 31 districts including Prague will be tested for Covid. The Health Ministry expanded the number from eight regions from last week by another 23 districts. Testing could cover approximately 765,000 children, or about half of primary and secondary school pupils in the Czech Republic. If they refuse to be tested and do not have proof of recovery, they will have to wear a face covering for teaching.

On Monday, Nov. 15, pupils in the 23 new districts will be tested again. Even though more districts now exceed 300 new Covid cases per 1000,000 people over seven days, the testing will not be expanded. Testing will therefore end on Nov. 15.

TRAVEL Sweden, Switzerland elevated to high-risk red on latest map

Sweden, Switzerland, Cyprus, and San Marino will move from medium-risk orange to high-risk red on the latest Covid-19 travel map, the Czech Health Ministry has announced. Travelers without proof of vaccination or recovery coming to the Czech Republic from these countries will face tightened restrictions as of today. The Czech Health Ministry updates its travel map every week based on data provided by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Read our full story here.

The United States has opened to travel from the European Union, including the Czech Republic, as of today. Adults will need vaccination and a recent test. Different rules apply for people under 18. U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) who are eligible to travel to the U.S. but are not fully vaccinated will need to provide proof of a negative test taken one day before their flight departure. Read our full story here.

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