Coronavirus infections are skyrocketing. Two scenarios have been published that discuss what is likely to come. And neither of them is very positive. At the same time, however, experts published measures that they believe should mitigate the disaster. Each of us can easily follow them.
At present, coronavirus has infected over 77,000 people in the Czech Republic. Yesterday set a sad record in the number of infections - there were 9,544 new cases on Wednesday. 35 people died due to the illness yesterday. According to the latest information, 2,678 patients with COVID-19 are hospitalized, 518 of whom are in serious condition.
Since March 1, more than 139,000 people in the Czech Republic have contracted the disease, almost half of them during October. Slighty under 61,000 people have recovered from the disease so far, while 1,172 people have succumbed to it.
The proportion of positive tests is also increasing. This number peaked less than a week ago, when almost a third of all PCR tests performed were positive. In recent days, their ratio has been around a quarter. Approximately 20,000 to 30,000 tests are performed daily in the Czech Republic.
In recent days, the fastest increase in the number of infecions has not been recorded in Prague, but in the Uherské Hradiště region, where approximately 616 people per 100 000 inhabitants tested positive for Covid-19 in the last week. The second worst affected region is Plzeň-sever with 538 cases and Žďár nad Sázavou with 537 cases.
How is the Czech Republic doing compared to other countries? The New York Times has published a comparative overview. According to the daily, the Czech Republic ranked second in the world in the number of infections per 100,000 inhabitants last week, breathing on Andorra's neck and followed by Belgium. In the number of deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, the Czech Republic occupies the 4th place worldwide - the first three places belong to Andorra, Argentina and Montenegro.
Yesterday, a group of scientists from various fields published an emergency appeal under the auspices of CTU Rector Vojtěch Petráček. Among the signatures under the appeal are infectologist and chief epidemiologist of IKEM Petr Smejkal, data scientist Petr Ludwig and vice-rector of Charles University for science and research Jan Konvalinka and many more.
According to their prediction, the overload of the health system is almost certainly approaching. For small hospitals, it is a matter of days, for large ones a matter of weeks. Unless there is a dramatic change in behavior, the epidemic could have 5,000 to 15,000 victims by the end of the year according to this prediction:
"There is a great risk that the Czech Republic will follow the Italian or New York scenario, the doctors will be forced to decide who receives care and who doesn't."
That is one of the warnings detailed in the appeal written by a group of scientists. According to a non-public prediction of the Institute of Health Information and Statistics of the Czech Republic (IHIS), hospital beds will be filled by the end of October, even if the development of the epidemic is favorable.
Even the most optimistic forecast counts with a daily increase of approximately 7,000 cases until the end of the month. A thousand of people will succumb to the disease. However, if the worst scenario should come true, up to 1,755 people could die from the disease, and infections could be increasing at a rate of 22,000 cases per day.
The scientists therefore believe that people need to change their behavior. One of the measures they suggest is a personal lockdown.
"Don't go out unless absolutely necessary - for example, when caring for your loved ones. Don't gather. Minimize physical contact with all people outside your home,"
the statement of the above-mentioned group of scientists continues to advise. If you do have to be around people, you should always wear a face mask inside inside, as well as outside in case when you cannot keep a safe distance of two meters from the others.
"What we will or won't do right now determines how many people will be seriously ill or dying in a month - let's not play Russian roulette with the fate of our loved ones."
A general practitioner from Prague 6, Ludmila Bezdíčková, emphasizes above all the fact that people should observe self-isolation even if they only suspect that they could be positive. In case of a high-risk contact with an infected person, it is necessary to stay in quarantine for 10 days despite having tested negative:
Given the record increase in new cases, Health Minister Roman Prymula released a "three-second appeal" today, whose message is concise and clear:
On the other hand, Hana Zelená, head of the virology department at the Institute of Health based in Ostrava, insists on going against the stream. One of the things she critisizes is the widespread wearing of face masks. She draws attention to their possible risks, such as lack of air flow under the masks, which makes their wearing difficult, for example, for people with respiratory problems. She is convinced that protection against disease should be the personal responsibility of each person. According to her, comprehensive testing of asymptomatic people is useless.
One of the main problems associated with the disease is the number of people who require medical care - according to predictions, the number of beds might not be sufficient. Three days ago, a quarter of ARO and ICU beds in the Czech Republic were available.
Today, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš announced that he will start increasing the number of beds located out of hospitals this weekend. He plans to buy 3,000 beds, plus another 1,000 for serious cases. The military will start building bed capacities, for instance in the complex of the Letňany exhibition grounds on the outskirts of Prague, where there should be about 500 of them, on Saturday. On Tuesday, the Minister of Health Roman Prymula stated that up to 10,000 beds will be set aside for patients with coronavirus, emergency medicine and urgent care.
Hospital Na Bulovce is also beginning to prepare for the construction of new beds for Covid-19 patient. There should be up to 228 of them in total. Currently, 13 % of the hospital's ICU beds and 15 % of regular ones have been filled.