Prague, March 17 (CTK) – The number of the confirmed coronavirus cases is 434, 90 more than on Monday evening, the Health Ministry writes on its website.
Some 6,600 coronavirus tests have been carried out so far, Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) told a press conference held after the government meeting today.
The number of patients is the highest in Prague, 154, including 38 new cases confirmed today. Central Bohemia, which is the region surrouding Prague, has the second highest number of 48 patients. In five other regions there are about 20 to 40 patients.
More than a half of the patients got infected in the Czech Republic and about 49 percent of them abroad, mostly in Italy.
Only a small number of the patients are children. About 30 patients are aged under 14 and the same number is aged from 15 to 24. According to the Health Ministry data, roughly half of the patients are aged over 45 and one third of them are aged 25 to 44.
The first three people have completely recovered from the disease.
Three patients now suffering from the coronavirus-provoked COVID-19 disease are in a serious and even critical health condition.
“Those are two drivers and one woman in the Prague-Bulovka hospital. They all are in an intensive care unit connected to medical ventilators. Unfortunately, the condition of one of the patients is serious, the other two are reportedly in a stable condition,” Babis said.
Babis also apologised for the shortage of face masks. But he said the government had done its utmost. “We apologise to everybody. I think we did our utmost,” he said.
Babis noted that the Czech state had been expecting a big supply of face masks to be delivered on Monday, but nothing arrived. He said people all over the world wanted to buy face masks.
Both the opposition parties and many common people criticised the government for the lacking face masks. People make face masks at home to deal with the outbreak.
Deputy PM and Interior Minister Jan Hamacek (Social Democrats, CSSD) said he felt sorry for the situation with protective equipment. The authorities should look into whether someone had made a mistake in this respect after the crisis only, he added.
Babis said the only producer able to satisfy the demand is China and it is necessary to have contacts in this country. He said Hamacek was able to order protective equipment to fight coronavirus also thanks to the contacts of President Milos Zeman.
Both Babis and Hamacek praised the attitude of the Chinese embassy in Prague.
Hamacek said one million face masks are to be delivered to the Czech Republic by the end of the week. He said the state does not plan to buy respirators for the citizens because it is not necessary and because it would be very expensive. Once everybody starts wearing a face mask, the threat of getting infected will drop considerably, Hamacek said.
Respirators protect the person who wears it, while face masks prevent a possible infection to be spread by the wearer to other people. People may be infected even before they have the first symptoms of the COVID-19 disease.
The three healed patients are from Decin, north Bohemia. They were skiing in northern Italy. They were among the first to have been infected with the coronavirus that first appeared in the Czech Republic on March 1.
The government has declared the state of emergency, which has seriously limited the free movement of people and cancelled most public activities.