Covid Measures Could be Eased by December, Health Minister Reveals

People wearing face masks walk across the Charles Bridge on March 31, 2020, in Prague, where most activities slowed down or came to a halt due to the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. (Photo by Michal Cizek / AFP) (Photo by MICHAL CIZEK/AFP via Getty Images)

Health Minister Jan Blatný has encouraged citizens to be ‘euphoric’ as he announced that current Covid restrictions could be lifted by the beginning of December.

However, no changes will be made to the rules before November 30 at the earliest. “The situation has stabilized so far. But it is fragile,” he told CNN Prima News.

Blatný was adamant that citizens should not be scared, urging people to be happy that shops may open by December when the situation could allow for relaxation.

According to him, at the beginning of next month, the healthcare system should return to normal, and hospitals should open regular outpatient clinics and resume non-acute operations.

However, during an interview, Blatný confirmed that he is requesting a 30-day extension to the state of emergency from the Chamber of Deputies.  “An emergency situation is an ideal condition for our measures. If it does not apply, the PES will only change in the recommendation. We will not be able to get the situation under control so quickly,” he said. “It is very unlikely that we will reach level 1 in the PES table by the end of the year.”

Read: UPDATE: Travelers From Germany, Lithuania and Latvia to Do Mandatory COVID-19 Test

The PES (Protiepidemický Systém) table is a risk assessment system that Jan Blatný introduced last week. The state of the pandemic will be scored based on the number of positive tests, the number of infected people per 100,000, the number of infected seniors and the reproductive (R) number. Risk scores are on a scale of zero to one hundred, placing the whole country in one of five severity bands. Any changes to the severity will take several days to come into effect.

However, the former Minister of Health Roman Prymula has argued that the PES system is ‘impractical’. “After that table, there was a big call from the public, but it’s more political, not practical. I can’t imagine that the table will remain in this form all the time,” he told CNN Prima News. The former health minister also stated that daily Covid cases could fall below 1,000 per day by mid-December — if the current measures last.

“We are slowing down the epidemic, but it is questionable whether intensively enough,” Prymula warned. “If there are already any moods for intense disintegration (of measures), it’s quite odd. We would quickly go back to high numbers.”

Read: Great News! Reproduction Number Drops to 0.8

Prymula no longer has decision-making power in the cabinet. However, he believes that the government should not rely on a decrease in the reproduction number to dictate their decisions.

“Yesterday I went to look at the test sites and no one was there. As the epidemic slowed, people stopped taking tests. We have to be careful about that because it then distorts the numbers,” he said. “I do not want to be responsible for the current epidemiological measures from any new position that would arise.”

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