‘Wear a face mask,’ Czech hospitals ask due to a rise in Covid-19 cases

Healthcare workers transport a COVID-19 patient, in Ceska Lipa, Czech Republic, Thursday, March 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)
By Kristýna Čtvrtlíková
3 Min Read

Czech hospitals are requesting that patients and guests wear face masks again due to a rapid increase in the number of positive coronavirus cases at the premises.

Official data on those who tested positive show only a minor part of the actual epidemic situation in the Czech Republic. Nevertheless, these numbers signal a worrying rise in the virus among the population, which is now also reflected in the hospitals. Almost 1,000 patients with Covid-19 were already hospitalized on Monday alone.

By contrast, one month ago there were 139 hospitalized patients in the Czech Republic.

“We currently have 30 hospitalized patients with Covid-19, of which five are in the intensive care unit and 18 are vaccinated. Most of them are elderly patients,” Filip Řepa from the Bulovka University Hospital told the Seznam Zprávy news outlet.

On Monday, there were over 3,700 new cases, the most since mid-April. At the same time, there has been a noticeable increase in the percentage of positive tests. For the most common diagnostic tests that people with symptoms of the disease undergo, positivity rose from 35 to 39 percent compared to last Monday. At the same time, monitoring of the virus load in wastewater reports record values.

However, despite the high values, the ministry is not planning even one of the mildest measures, meaning the mandatory wearing of masks, not even in medical facilities.

“We are not currently considering a blanket rule for mask protection in hospitals,” said Ondřej Jakob, spokesman for the health ministry.

“In connection with the current development of the epidemic situation, we recommend the use of face masks, especially when visiting patients with weakened immunity,” explained Řepa. “Compulsory wearing of a face mask is introduced for persons who have symptoms or have been in contact with Covid-19 positive patient,” he added.

The development in the Czech Republic is similar to events in other European countries. The spread of the virus will probably continue to increase for several days, and patients may remain hospitalized for weeks. Nevertheless, the Czech government remains relatively indifferent to the rise in cases. For example, in Italy or Germany, masks are also required on public transport.

Meanwhile, the Czech ministry has not yet changed its attitude. It only calls for the so-called fourth dose of vaccination for high-risk population groups.

“Fortunately, the situation is now not as dramatic as before, but patients still have pneumonia. I recommend that people over 60 and especially younger people with an immune disorder or a chronic immune-suppressing disease get vaccinated. The sooner, the better. Don’t wait for a new vaccine,” said Vladimír Koblížek, head of the lung clinic at the Hradec Králové University Hospital.

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