Coronavirus data confirm epidemic in decline, life in Czech Republic can return to normal

Le gouvernement a présenté mardi un plan visant à lever progressivement les mesures de confinement, photo: Site officiel du Gouvernement tchèque

The latest coronavirus figures, released at a press conference on Thursday morning confirm beyond doubt that the COVID 19 epidemic is in decline. Epidemiologists have given the government the green light to start easing restrictions on movement and business faster than originally planned.

Photo: archive of Czech Government
The coronavirus data from the past three days were anxiously awaited as an indicator of whether the loosening of restrictions ahead of Easter did not worsen the epidemiological situation in the country. They were expected to tip the scales either in favour of continued restrictions or a gradual return to normal. The head of the Institute for Health Information and Statistics Ladislav Dušek told journalists that the results were better than he had dared to hope.

“This is the best result I could have hoped for. It is better than I would have thought possible just a few weeks ago, when we really feared the worst. The reproduction number has dropped from 1.0 to 0.7 which means that one coronavirus positive individual now infects less than one other person on average. That means we have stopped the uncontrolled spread of the epidemic and it is now in decline. That is good news for the future.”

As of Wednesday morning the Czech Republic registered 7,033 COVID 19 positive persons, 210 people have died to date and over 2,000 have recovered from the disease. Approximately 15 percent of the infected patients required hospital care.

The death rate is at 3 percent, but according to Health Ministry data the majority of those who died had serious chronic illnesses which the infection aggravated.

Predictive models suggest the country may have 7,800 cases by the end of April; just a week ago the prediction was 10,000.

Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said that the positive result would allow the government to revise its “reopening timetable” and start easing restrictions on movement and business faster than originally planned. However he called for people not to “let up” until the danger is over.

Photo: ČTK/Kateřina Šulová
“I want to appeal to everyone of you to maintain the high level of discipline shown so far because only if we remain vigilant, continue to use face masks and respect the advice on social distancing can we hope to maintain this positive trend.“

The minister said that in view of the positive projections hospitals –which were geared to handle a severe coronavirus crisis –can now return to normal, start rescheduling postponed surgeries and attending to patients with other health problems than COVID 19.

Minister Vojtěch said the priority now was to proceed with the smart quarantine project, tracing the contacts of infected individuals, and focus on dealing with local outbreaks of the disease. Large-scale testing is also underway to gauge the spread of the infection among the population and the degree of herd immunity acquired.