Prague, April 8 (CTK) – The uncontrolled spread of the COVID-19 disease has been successfully stopped in Czechia and the country can start preparing for its return to normal life, Health Minister Adam Vojtěch told reporters today, estimating the number of patients to reach 10,600 by the end of April.
A week ago, the end-April number was still estimated at 14,200.
“For the time being, the Czech Republic has prevented the worst scenario and the [latest] data have proven this,” Vojtěch (for ANO) said.
Ladislav Dušek, director of the Institute of Health Information and Statistics (UZIS), said the protection of Czech seniors has been successful, they make up 24 percent of all coronavirus patients and their share has not been rising considerably.
Interior Minister and the Central Crisis Staff head Jan Hamáček (Social Democrats, CSSD), nevertheless, said he “remains extremely cautious” with regard to the experience from abroad.
“I am happy about the achieved figures and I believe that the trend will be confirmed this weekend,” Hamáček said, but added that foreign experience shows that the virus can surprise, which is why he remains “rather sceptical in this respect.”
Vojtěch said the situation in Czechia is not like in Spain, Italy, the USA or Britain. The capacities of Czech hospitals are more than sufficient, he added.
Vladimir Černý, who heads the Czech society for anaesthesiology, resuscitation and intensive medicine, said last week that problems with a shortage of hospitals’ capacity might occur if the number of infected people reached 45,000.
The reproduction number, which is the average number of people who contract the virus from one patient is close to 1.
“A reproduction number close to 1 does not mean a stopping of the disease’s spread, but the spread is under control,” Dušek said.
The reproduction number, along with the estimated total number of Czechs with the coronavirus, is used to estimate the future numbers of the confirmed COVID-19 cases.
For now, the UZIS expects their share to reach 10 percent in the Czech population of 10.6 million, but more exact estimates will be possible at the end of April after the planned testing of a representative sample of the population is completed.
Dušek said most of the Czech CIVID-19 patients’ deaths are people over 80.
“A large part of the deaths are patients who died with COVID-19 but not of COVID-19,” said Cerny.
The country had over 5,000 coronavirus cases this morning, an increase by 2,000 in the past week.
The proportion of positive samples among all tested samples is about 4 percent.
Dušek noted that it is important to watch the number of people who are infected but show no symptoms.
“If there were, for example, 30 percent of them, it would mean that the number in late April could be close to 26,000 infected,” Dušek said, adding that he does not think such a situation is very probable because current data would look very different.
“We want to prepare a long-term prediction model after Easter,” Dušek said.
Vojtěch said the Health Ministry will instruct hospitals to gradually start using their beds, which are now reserved for COVID-19 cases, for other patients. A smaller part of the beds will remain reserved for COVID-19 patients.
Under the ministry’s directive from March, hospitals had to reserve a certain number of beds for potential severe coronavirus cases. They also had to restrict medical services and provide only urgently needed checkups and surgeries.
“We can afford to relax the strict measures. We don’t want to harm the other patients,” Vojtěch said.
Experts have warned that the reduced care for patients with other diseases, such as heart failures, diabetes or cancer, may cause even a bigger damage than COVID-19.