Czech weekend news in brief: top stories for Jan. 24, 2021

National Theatre to celebrate Mozart's birthday without an audience, interest in respirators soars, and more top headlines from this weekend

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 24.01.2021 07:00 (updated on 23.01.2021)

COVID-19 spread slightly declining in the Czech Republic

There were 4,222 cases of coronavirus reported in the Czech Republic on Saturday, roughly 1,000 fewer than a week ago, according to the latest data the Czech Health Ministry released this morning. The number of hospitalized patients has fallen under 6,000 for the first time since early January.

At present, there are 5,741 COVID-19 patients in Czech hospitals, 1,046 of whom are in serious condition. The government has said the number of patients must fall under 3,000 for the lockdown to be relaxed. There are currently about 107,000 known active COVID-19 cases in the country.

PES index score remains at 69 points for second day

The PES epidemic system score remains at 69 points for the second day in a row according to the data the Czech Health Ministry released this morning. The score has been within the fourth risk level range for 11 days, though current lockdown measures in the country correspond to the fifth level.

The Czech reproduction number, which estimates how many people are infected by one COVID-19 positive person, slightly rose yesterday to 0.88. In early January, the reproduction number surged to 1.45. Last Sunday, it hit a low of 0.68; since then, it has been slightly increasing.

Czech Republic reports record-high sale of ventilators

There was record-high demand for respirators this week after information surfaced that their wearing might be mandatory in shops, Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamáček has told journalists. The government is waiting for results from Germany and Austria, who have introduced compulsory FFP2 respirators in public transport and shops, according to Health Minister Jan Blatný.

Blatný said the government does not want the same measures in the Czech Republic to become a financial burden for its citizens. He said there was no need to buy out the protective devices now; the government is also discussing the sale of the respirators at adequate prices so that everyone can afford them, he added.

Fewer Pfizer vaccines coming to the Czech Republic over the next three weeks

The Czech Republic will receive less COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech over the next three weeks, Health Minister Jan Blatný said after talks with the firm's representatives. However, this will be compensated by mid-February and raised according to the original plan afterwards, he added. About 20% fewer vaccines will be received over the next three weeks than expected.

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Blatný said the reduction would not have an impact on the country's vaccination schedule thanks to the recent decision to use six vaccine doses per ampule instead of the previously planned five. As a result, the country will continue to vaccinate as many people as previously scheduled.

Prague's National Theatre to celebrate Mozart's birthday without audience

The opera troupe at Prague's National Theatre will mark Mozart's birthday anniversary on January 27 as usual with a concert at the Estates Theatre, where Mozart premiered his Don Giovanni in 1787. However, there will be no audience this time due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Instead, the event will be transmitted live by Czech Television's CT art channel, and it will be available online for 30 days. It will offer excerpts from Mozart operas Idomeneo and La clemenza di Tito, performed by the ND orchestra with German conductor Karsten Januschke and Czech and foreign soloists.

The Estates Theatre, one of the National Theatre's stages, is the only building still standing where Mozart worked and performed. Prague's National Theatre has staged birthday concerts for Mozart annually since 2009. Last year's concert was conducted by Maestro Placido Domingo.

Prague demonstrations protest arrest of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Russia

Around 200 people gathered to protest against Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's recent arrest at a rally before the Embassy in Russia in Prague on Saturday. The gathering was mostly attended by young people. Earlier this week, Navalny was detained upon his arrival in Moscow from Berlin, where he had been from August recovering from an attempted Novichok poisoning. He accused Putin and Russian secret service of the attempt to poison him, which Russian authorities dismissed.

In Prague, protesters carried banners in Russian and English saying "Freedom to Navalny," "We Want Democracy, Not Dictatorship" and "Down With Lawlessness." Russian pop music was played and some protesters sang along. Some of them held Russian flags.