Health minister urges Czechs to get the jab as Covid situation worsens
As Covid numbers continue to rise steeply in the Czech Republic, Health Minister Adam Vojtěch on Tuesday made an urgent appeal for more people to get vaccinated against the infection. He stressed that the situation in the coming weeks would get worse and that the only real weapon against Covid is mass inoculation.
Hopes that the Czech Republic, which had one of the highest death rates per capita in the third wave of the Covid pandemic, could benefit from herd immunity have proved false.
Covid numbers have seen a steep rise in the past few weeks, going from several hundred a day to over 4,000. According to the Institute for Health Information and Statistics in the next few days the number of newly infected in 24 hours could be between 5,000 and 7,000 and the Czech Republic will have on average 300 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Hospitals are bracing for an influx of Covid patients and some are already restricting elective surgery in order to raise capacity for emergency care.
Speaking at a press briefing in Prague Health Minister Vojtech warned that the situation would deteriorate further, urging as yet unvaccinated people to help turn the tide.
“Thirty percent of the population is still vulnerable to the infection since they are not vaccinated and have not undergone Covid, which is below the EU average. The epidemic is driven by this unvaccinated segment of the population and inoculation is our only effective weapon against it. I want to refute the misleading notion that Covid is only a threat for the elderly. The average age of patients hospitalized with Covid today is sixty and there are much younger patients in critical condition with Covid pneumonia.”
According to statistics 40 percent of new Covid cases are registered among young people aged under 19. Six children have so far died of Covid and related complications. 75 percent of those who contract Covid are not vaccinated. Regions where there is a higher reluctance to get vaccinated –such as Moravia and Silesia - are the areas where the epidemic is gathering force.
So far, the steps taken by the government to curb the spread of Covid have been aimed at encouraging people to get the jab. As of November 1, PCR tests needed for admission to restaurants, fitness centres, hairdressers and other facilities, will no longer be free of charge for people over 18.
The validity of PCR tests will be shortened from seven days to 72 hours and that of antigen tests from 72 to 24 hours. And one of the possible scenarios currently being considered, in the event of a dramatic downturn, is that Covid vaccine certificates and tests may become compulsory at the workplace as well.
At the present time 63.9 percent of Czechs have concluded their primary vaccination, 68 percent of the population has received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine. Although interest in getting inoculated has risen sharply in recent days, with queues forming outside walk-in vaccination centres experts point out that it will be at least five weeks before those getting their first vaccine now will be protected. According to predictions, Covid numbers will continue to rise sharply in the coming weeks and the fourth wave may culminate in five to six weeks from now.