As the number of coronavirus patients in the Czech Republic hits 40, the Czech Ministry of Health has announced some extraordinary measures this morning as officials attempt to halt the spread of coronavirus in the country.
Effective Wednesday morning, all elementary and secondary schools throughout the entire Czech Republic must close, with children staying at home.
In addition to the school closures, universities around the Czech Republic are also calling off classes indefinitely in the wake of the government’s announcement. Tomas Bata University in Zlín and Brno’s Technical University and Mendel University have already confirmed.
Effective 18:00 today, all public events with more than 100 people will be called off; a previous ban covered only events in the Czech Republic with more then 5,000 people.
This includes planned music concerts, markets, and major festivals including the upcoming Prague International Film Festival Febiofest, which Hollywood star Woody Harrelson was to attend.
Update: Febiofest has officially been cancelled, organizers have confirmed. Prague’s ongoing One World Film Festival, taking place through this weekend, will continue to take place at smaller cinemas with a capacity of less than 100 people.
Regarding sports events such as football matches, the government has left it up to the organizers to hold the events without spectators, or call them off entirely.
Organizers behind the Million Moments for Democracy political demonstrations have called off future protests, including today’s in Pardubice.
An end date has not been set for the school closures and events ban, both of which are set to take place indefinitely as the coronavirus situation develops in the Czech Republic.
A ban on hospital visits, not including children’s and maternity wards, has also been in place in the Czech Republic since Monday.
Violations of the emergency measures instituted by the Czech Ministry of Health could face fines of up to three million crowns.
The Czech Republic plans to buy an additional 100,000 tests for measuring the coronavirus to use on trains and border crossings. The tests can return a result in 29 minutes.
Additional background info via Czech News Agency CTK:
The Czech Republic is banning events with more than 100 participants over new coronavirus as of 18:00 today and closing elementary and secondary schools as of Wednesday, PM Andrej Babiš (ANO) told media after the National Security Council (BRS) meeting today.
Until now, only rallies with more than 5,000 participants have had to be announced to regional sanitary authorities beforehand.
On Monday, tests detected the first coronavirus patient in Czechia in whose case the source of infection is not known. He is a Prague taxi driver, Deputy Health Minister Roman Prymula said on Czech Television, adding that the infection seems to be starting to spread within the Czech community.
Sanitary officers are trying to find the taxi driver’s passengers by identifying the phones in his surroundings.
The Czech Republic has 40 patients with new coronavirus for now, with the latest two testing positively in the night, both relating to north Italy. A total of 1,193 people have undergone tests for the coronavirus presence so far, Health Minister Adam Vojtech (for ANO) told the press conference.
The new ban applies to theatre, music, film and other performances as well as sports and religious events, both public and private, where the attendance exceeds 100 people simultaneously.
It does not apply to meetings and sessions of the constitutional bodies, public administration bodies and courts.
Lessons will be suspended at all elementary and secondary schools indefinitely as of Wednesday.
As for universities, they should proceed based on the relevant law that determines their operation, Babis said.
The Prague-seated Czech Technical University (CVUT) suspended lectures and other events on Monday already.
The suspension does not apply to kindergartens, Vojtech told the press conference. He said kindergartens are no big groups of children, and their closure would negatively affect the parents.
“We want people to go to work and the economy to fare well. This is essential,” Babiš said.
Vojtech said the state is taking the above measures out of the need to be active from the very beginning of the epidemic.
This is a breaking news item. We will update with more information as it becomes available.