Several regions are now on orange alert, the most significant outbreak still being in Prague

The Ministry of Health has evaluated the current epidemiological situation in relation to COVID-19 and has updated the map of alert levels for public health protection. The orange districts, meaning those with incipient community transmission, now include Beroun, Kladno, Kolín, Prague-East and Uherské Hradiště. Prague also remains orange. The number of green districts has also increased, where the occurrence of infection has been found without community spread. 

Risk-score-summary-week-37

Interactive map (Czech only)

Benešov, Kutná hora, Mladá Boleslav, Nymburk, Rakovník, České Budějovice, Český Krumlov, Písek, Strakonice, Tábor, Pilsen-City, Pilsen-South, Rokycany, Cheb, Karlovy Vary, Sokolov, Litoměřice, Louny, Jablonec nad Nisou, Liberec, Semily, Hradec Králové, Náchod, Trutnov, Chrudim, Pardubice, Svitavy, Jihlava, Pelhřimov, Žďár nad Sázavou, Brno-City, Brno-County, Olomouc and Prostějov are now on green alert. This means that they have joined Hodonín, Prague-West, Třebíč, Blansko, Příbram and Mělník, which were already previously on green alert. Public health officers will be reacting to the situation and adopting measures in districts which have moved to orange alert. Starting on Monday, 14 September, the opening hours of catering facilities will be restricted between midnight and six in the morning. 

“The worst-affected regions are Prague and the Central Bohemian Region, where the start of community transmission is appearing. We are also registering outbreaks of infection in the other regions, although the sources of infection are traceable there and the virus is thus not exhibiting community spread. At this moment in time, the most important thing is for all of us to individually act in a responsible manner. All of us should particularly follow the 3 basic rules – wash your hands, keep your distance from others and wear face masks when inside buildings,” says Health Minister Adam Vojtěch, describing the rules.

The high number of diagnoses corresponds to the large numbers of tests performed and naturally reflects the spread of the disease in the population. Around 15,000 tests a day are performed on working days. The increase in the number of people diagnosed positive relates to the majority of districts in the Czech Republic. This is no longer a limited number of clearly-defined clusters or outbreaks of infection. Nevertheless, this still concerns sporadic and isolated cases in the majority of Czech districts, not generating dangerous and interregional clusters. The overall reproduction number calculated for the whole of the Czech population equals 1.35 (95% confidence interval: 1.32 – 1.38). Thus, this still concerns the controlled spread of the disease, linear, not exponential,” explains Ladislav Dušek, Director of the Institute of Health Information and Statistics, saying that it is still good news that vulnerable population groups have not been affected on a nationwide scale, e.g. the share of newly diagnosed people aged 65+ constitutes approximately 10% of the total new cases and in the 75+ category, the figure is less than 5%. Most newly diagnosed patients are symptom-free or only have a mild form of the disease.

“The biggest risk is still posed by public events and other social and private events with a greater number of people congregating in one place. We observe the most cases there. For this reason, I appeal to everybody to consider attending these events and to follow the basic hygiene rules. The worst situation is currently to be found in Prague, where we are reinforcing staff numbers at the Public Health Authority for the City of Prague with the aid of medical faculties and the Czech Army. We are also flexibly reacting to numbers of people for whom testing has been recommended and interest on the part of people who pay for testing themselves in taking the test and are increasing the capacity of test centres,” says Jarmila Rážová, Chief Public Health Officer of the Czech Republic.

The overall numbers of people who are hospitalised are increasing somewhat, as are the numbers of patients requiring intensive care. This is not, however, a risk which is being seen nationwide. Mortality is very low and most newly-diagnosed cases are asymptomatic or very mild. There has been no major impact on public health and the burden on the intensive care system is low. “Capacities in hospitals have plenty of reserves and are sufficient to handle the current development of the disease in the Czech Republic. The total number of beds (including intensive care beds) is sufficient and the hospital sector in the Czech Republic is ready to handle a much greater number of hospitalised patients, even severe cases, than the current number. The bed status is continuously monitored and evaluated. The whole system is set up to detect any risky development of the epidemiological situation early and to adopt the necessary measures to maintain the availability of care. On a regional level, medical care for COVID patients is coordinated by Regional Intensive Care Coordinators,” stated Vladimír Černý, Head of the COVID Clinical Group, providing additional information. 

The most significant local outbreak is still in Prague. Positive cases in the capital constitute 23 – 26% of the cases found throughout the whole of the Czech Republic. Over the past week, Prague has experienced an average daily increase of 210 in new cases, i.e. around 170 positive cases per 100,000 people over the past 14 days. It still holds true that the cases are largely confined to the younger and middle-aged generations and that they are mostly symptom-free or exhibit mild forms of the disease. The number of cases in vulnerable groups is increasing in the total number of cases but, expressed as a percentage, it is still 7% of all cases. In cases where the source of infection has been clarified, it is most often ascertained in relation to infection in the family or at the workplace, or in relation to visiting social functions (weddings, family celebrations and gatherings) and at sports clubs, both professional and amateur (ice-hockey and football). With the start of the school year, more cases are being reported in educational facilities, both among students and members of the teaching staff,  although this is an expected phenomenon no different to the situation in other European countries. Significant incidence is still being observed among foreign workers or foreign tourists (people who pay for testing themselves) or people returning from abroad. Based on the overall view of the situation in the City of Prague, it can be said that cases are not concentrated into significant clusters and therefore no major outbreaks are occurring. Rather, this primarily concerns cases diagnosed in relation to epidemiologically significant contacts with already confirmed cases.

In reaction to the greater number of people infected, the Ministry of Health has introduced the compulsory wearing of face masks inside buildings except for the home, a measure which has been in force with some exceptions since 10 September for the whole of the Czech Republic. The nationwide obligation to wear protective equipment when travelling on public transport also remains in effect. Masks are not only a basic preventive measure in relation to COVID-19, but also in relation to the approaching season of respiratory diseases.