Border checks and ban on inpatient visits – Czech authorities ramp up measures against coronavirus

Photo: ČTK/Václav Šálek

In view of the continued global coronavirus epidemic, the Czech Republic’s National Security Council met on Monday and issued a series of new measures aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19. These include warnings not to travel abroad to areas deemed as “high-risk”, random border checks and the prohibition of visiting some patients in hospital.

Photo: ČTK/Václav Šálek
It has been eight days since the first case of the coronavirus known as COVID-19 was detected in the Czech Republic. Since then some 35 people have been diagnosed with the disease after the testing of nearly 1,000 individuals.

None of the patients are in a serious condition. However, in view of their rising number, as well as the many cases abroad, the Czech government has been gradually increasing preventative measures in the country.

The most recent were announced on Monday morning by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš following a meeting of the National Security Council.

“In view of the fast spread of the coronavirus, especially in Europe, we advise people not to travel to places with high numbers of coronavirus cases.

“People can check out the list of areas with high numbers of cases on the website of the Ministry of Health. We think this is the best solution, and we have recommended that people do not travel to Iran at all.”

Andrej Babiš, photo: ČTK/Kateřina Šulová
The government is cooperating with mobile operators in order to communicate with Czechs who are currently abroad, sending warnings to those in high-risk areas and asking those in Italy to return home without delay. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a special database website, where Czechs traveling to foreign countries have been urged to register. To cover any missed cases, the Ministry of Health is asking travel agencies to supply it with lists of citizens currently abroad in high-risk areas.

The council also agreed to cancel government trips abroad, with individual ministers being the only officials able to overrule the decision when they deem it necessary.

Furthermore, new measures have been agreed in regards to handling the coronavirus threats already present in the country.

Health Minister Adam Vojtěch announced that his ministry has issued a special order to all providers of inpatient care to no longer allow visits, with exceptions granted for children, those in terminal stages of incurable diseases and other specific cases.

“The prohibition of visits is conceived in a way where we really focus on locations where there could be a risk of spreading the virus, especially among those who are most under threat. That means seniors, or those with pre-existing chronic conditions.”

Adam Vojtěch, photo: ČTK/AP/Virginia Mayo
The third most important announcement was made by Interior Minister Jan Hamáček, who said that random temperature checks are now taking place at 10 selected border crossings into the country.

“These checks are being conducted by up to 100 personnel, around 40 policeman and tens of firefighters and border guards. We are ready to continue the random tests for as long as is necessary and sufficient resources have been granted to our personnel in the field.

“The main aim is to raise awareness among those citizens returning from Italy and to conduct random temperature checks.”

There are currently more than 44,000 cases of COVID-19 infection in the world, with over 6,000 of them in Italy. In the Czech Republic the number rose almost twofold over the weekend to 35.