The Cabinet today approved a number of important measures, including mandatory discriminatory PCR testing of every positive sample and Czech certificates for people vaccinated in third countries

At its session today, the government approved a proposal from the Ministry of Health that will make it mandatory for laboratories to perform discriminatory PCR testing of every positive PCR test result. The obligation to wear a respirator outside will now remain only at larger mass events. Also new are the rules on the procedure for healthcare service providers to enter information on vaccinations carried out in third countries into the ISIN system, which will provide vaccinated persons with an EU COVID certificate. The government also discussed changes to the arrangements for returning from the red category of countries, or adjusting the reimbursement of vaccination against COVID-19.

Respiratory protection outdoors will no longer be generally mandatory in public places from 1 July, and respirators will no longer be required in public places such as public transport waiting areas and platforms, nor in motor vehicles. Respirators will remain compulsory at outdoor public events where more than 30 people are present, but this obligation will not apply to children’s camps, including suburban camps, at the place where they are held. Respirators remain mandatory indoors.

From 1 July, healthcare service providers testing using the PCR method are obliged to perform so-called discriminatory PCR testing in the event of any positive result of a standard PCR test. If they are not able to carry out this type of test themselves, they will arrange for another healthcare service provider to carry it out. They can also use the Health Institute based in Ostrava and the Health Institute based in Ústí nad Labem.

“Due to the incidence of new mutations of the coronavirus, all laboratories will be obliged to ensure that a discriminatory PCR test is carried out for each positive sample. Thanks to this, we will be able to detect the incidence of mutations in time and will be able to react promptly to the situation,” stated Health Minister Adam Vojtěch, describing the importance of discriminatory PCR testing.

As of 7 July, it will also be possible for persons vaccinated in third countries to obtain an EU COVID certificate. The government has approved a procedure for healthcare service providers who enter information about vaccinations carried out in a third country into the ISIN, on the basis of which a Czech vaccination certificate will be issued to the vaccinated person under the EU COVID digital certificate. As a condition for issuing the certificate, the applicant must submit a vaccination certificate in English issued in the third country by an authorised body, a specimen of which is published in the list of recognised national certificates on the website of the Ministry of Health. The vaccination must also be administered using a vaccine that corresponds to the vaccines that have been granted Commission registration on the basis of an EMA recommendation.

The applicant must be a citizen of the Czech Republic or a member of their family who has a temporary or permanent residence permit in the Czech Republic. It can also be a citizen of the EU who has been issued a confirmation of temporary residence within the territory of the Czech Republic or a permit for permanent residence within the territory of the Czech Republic, issued by the Czech Republic. Alternatively, it may also be an accredited member of a diplomatic mission in the Czech Republic, including a private official, or an official of an international organisation registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.

The Ministry of Health also informed the government about the change in the rules for returning from red category countries, where the same measures will now apply as when returning from the dark red category. For red category countries, a PCR test will now be required upon return, no earlier than the 5th and no later than the 14th day after entry. Self-isolation is required pending the result of the test. “The holidays are approaching and travel is increasing significantly.  At the same time, the risk of introducing mutations into the country is rising substantially. Therefore, in consultation with the Central Management Team and the Chief Hygienist, we have decided to tighten border measures on returning from red countries,” the Minister added.  This change will take effect from 1 July. As of the same date, the category of countries with an extreme risk of disease (the black category) will be expanded to include Namibia, Paraguay and Russia.  From Monday, 5 July, Tunisia will also be added to the category.

The government also approved a bill amending Act No. 569/2020 Coll., on the Distribution of Medicinal Products Containing the Vaccine for Vaccination against the COVID-19 Disease, and amending Act No. 48/1997 Coll., on Public Health Insurance.  The amendment concerns the reimbursement of vaccination against COVID-19 from public health insurance. At present, the reimbursement, distribution and administration of vaccines is covered by public health insurance if the vaccines have been obtained by the state through a procedure based on Commission Decision C(2020) 4192. However, it is now possible for the state to obtain vaccines for COVID-19 by other means (in particular by donation or loan from another country, or the possibility of obtaining from the manufacturer part of the vaccines designated for another country on the basis of the consent of that country) and the vaccines thus obtained and their administration would not be reimbursable, nor would the state have the right to reimburse the vaccinated person for any harm caused by such a vaccination.  The aforementioned amendment therefore extends the list of situations in which vaccinations against COVID-19 are covered.