Incipient community transmission of COVID-19 disease in Prague

Based on an evaluation of the COVID-19 epidemiological situation, the Ministry of Health has updated the map of alert levels for public health protection. Prague has become the most significant local epicenter in the last week, reaching the orange level of incipient community transmission. Increased incidence of the disease combined with certain other risk trends has also been noted in Kolín, Příbram, Žďár nad Sázavou and Brno – City. Local epicenters in the Moravian-Silesian Region have calmed down significantly and no increase in risk is reported.

The daily detection of patients positively diagnosed with COVID-19 in the Czech Republic is fairly high, ranging around 300 on business days. The high number of diagnoses is linked to the large numbers of tests performed and reflects the spreading of the disease in the population. Detected cases are sporadic and rare in the vast majority of Czech districts, and are not generating dangerous and inter-regional clusters. The vulnerable population groups are not being affected, and cases of hospitalization have not significantly increased. Mortality is very low and most cases are asymptomatic or very mild. There is no uncontrolled mass spreading.

A consistent increased incidence of COVID-19 cases has been observed in Prague Capital City, and the current situation is showing signs of incipient community transmission. However, it is presently at the lower end of the second alert level (orange), and there is no need to adopt significant anti-epidemic measures yet. Cases are largely confined to the younger and middle-aged generations, and are mostly asymptomatic or with a mild course of the disease. Approximately 10% of all diagnosed cases in the past week were reported in vulnerable population groups, an increase compared to the previous period. One positive fact is that there has not been an increase in the number of hospitalized patients requiring intensive care.

Cases are primarily being reported in connection with public events, in families or the workplace, or they have been imported from abroad. “Unfortunately, the number of cases with no link to a known source of contagion is rising in Prague. Nevertheless, the risk of community transmission is at the lower end of the range and there is no need to adopt significant anti-epidemic measures yet. From a global perspective, the increased incidence in Prague is no different to the situation in other large European agglomerations, e.g. Vienna, Lisbon, Madrid and Barcelona, which is due mainly to the high accumulation of people commuting to Prague for work or tourism, as well as the frequency of events with a higher number of attendees,” explained Jarmila Rážová, Chief Hygienist of the Czech Republic.

The Prague Public Health Authority will react to the worsened epidemiological situation by introducing masks in all indoor areas of Vaclav Havel Airport, and by recommending masks in the public areas of schools and educational facilities, with effect from 1 September. According to a previously declared nationwide measure, masks will be mandatory across the Czech Republic on public transit, inside healthcare and social services facilities, and inside the buildings of authorities for contact with the public. “Prague is on the boundary between the green and orange levels, which is why we are still currently only recommending the wearing of masks in schools. We may have to adopt broader measures if the situation worsens. We will keep monitoring the situation. I would ask the citizens of Prague to be as responsible as possible and avoid large-scale events. It is now mainly up to the citizens of Prague and how responsibly they behave,” added Zdeňka Jágrová, Director of the Prague Public Health Authority.

The Kolín, Příbram, Žďár nad Sázavou and Brno – City districts have newly been added to the first alert level. The weekly number of newly diagnosed cases has increased by 50% compared to the previous 7 days, and is associated with other risk trends. The situation in the said district is still under control, without the risk of community transmission. The share of individuals with severe cases is very low, and there is no pressure on the capacity of healthcare services. The said districts have seen a longer-term, or short-term and very strong, negative trend in the incidence of COVID-19 cases. These are primarily linked with public events, incidence in the family or at the workplace, and sporadic cases with no known links to a source of contagion. With the exception of the Žďár nad Sázavou district, vulnerable population groups have not been affected. The epidemiological situation is under control, and there is no broad spread on a regional scale,” Rážová said.

Localities with a previous increased incidence of the disease in the Moravian-Silesian Region have calmed down significantly and no increase in risk is reported.