Health minister says booster shot, home office and discipline will save lives, as hospitals start filling up again

In reaction to the worsening coronavirus epidemic in the Czech Republic, Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said the health authorities were in favour of properly implementing the restrictions in place rather than adding too many new ones. He urged people to get the Covid booster shot and recommended that employers introduce home office wherever possible.

The daily increase in new Covid cases on workdays has now come close to ten thousand, driving up the number of Covid-related hospitalizations to 2,300, the number of people in intensive care to 328 and the number of Covid related deaths to 30 in a single day on Wednesday.

Members of the government’s crisis team met with experts and representatives of the incoming administration for the first time on Thursday to debate the need for tougher Covid restrictions. Minister Adam Vojtěch said they shared the view that the focus must remain on vaccinations, which were helping to keep in check the number of patients in intensive care. Countering fake news on social media, he said the reason behind the increasing number of vaccinated people in hospitals was not because the vaccine was not working, but because the level of immunity had dropped among some of those vaccinated in the first wave.

Adam Vojtěch | Photo: Office of Czech Government

“The data we have indicate that the level of protection against contracting the virus drops to around 60 percent after a time, so more of those vaccinated in the first wave are likely to contract the virus. However, they are still protected by around 85 percent from ending up in intensive care or dying. Vaccination works and I want to appeal to people over 60 and high-risk groups to get a booster shot as soon as possible. It is extremely important at this time.”

The health minister said that thanks to growing interest in inoculation the recently introduced restrictions should suffice for the present time, on condition that they are widely adhered to, which he said is not happening everywhere.

“I want to ask the managers of restaurants, pubs and other facilities to take the time to check clients’ certificates. I know there are those rebelling against the restrictions and that many see it as a rebellion against the government. Such a stand is absurd. We are all fighting a war against the virus.”

Photo: Ondřej Hájek,  ČTK

Predictions suggest that Covid numbers are likely to continue to grow for several more weeks and the health minister recommended that over that time employers should consider introducing home office wherever possible.

Fears that the health authorities would no longer accept antigen tests as a pass to various facilities failed to materialize, although the outlooks are they will not be accepted in events of over 1,000 people. Ski resorts may also expect tougher restrictions in the days to come. And, of course, the measures may be tightened further for everyone should the epidemic worsen significantly.