With new infections soaring due to a highly contagious coronavirus variant and hospitals filling up, the Czech Republic announced a new series of measures “to protect the lives of our citizens.”
“We have to do it to prevent a total collapse of our hospitals,” PM Babis said. “If we don’t do it, the whole world will watch Bergamo in the Czech Republic.”
The measures, coming into effect on Monday, include limiting people’s movement to only their residential districts, except for essential trips. Pre-schools will close and first- and second-graders will shift to online classes like other students.
“If it’s possible, stay at home,” Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said. Hamacek said the measure will be enforced by police and military forces.
If people go out for sports or just for a walk, they should not leave their municipality.
Further measures include the closure of nursery schools and schools for children with disabilities that until now have remained open.
Also, only the stores with essential goods will remain open.
Health Minister Blatny said people will have to wear face coverings outdoor in towns and cities all the time and also at work.
To help the struggling health system and prevent a collapse, the government has been discussing with Germany and Poland an option to send Czech COVID-19 patients to their hospitals for treatment as the local clinics are reaching their limits.
“Even if we impose these measures, according to our most optimistic models, we still assume an increase to around 20,000 new confirmed cases a day, followed by a decrease. If the measures are not implemented, the increase will be even higher. From this it is logical to expect an even greater burden on hospitals,” added Blatný.
In an attempt to boost the vaccination program, the Czech Republic has approached EU nations and others asking them for vaccines for which they don’t have immediate use.
Babis said France has agreed to send 100,000 doses by the middle of March. Some 5,000 Moderna doses have been donated by Israel, a close ally.
The government will also start to require mass of employees in companies and extend the required quarantine from 10 to 14 days to address the specifics of the new variants that are more infectious.
As of Friday morning, 19,999 people have died from coronavirus in the Czech Republic, and 1,531 are currently in intensive care in hospitals, compared with around 1,200 in November at the peak of the second wave.