Prague, Czech Republic – While the Czech Republic for now hasn’t reported any confirmed cases of coronavirus, the country is being hit by a flu epidemic.
Czech Republic faces influenza epidemic
The Czech Hygiene Office declared on Friday that the rapid and skyrocketing spread of the influenza virus has reached the state of an epidemic, with a 22% increase in cases over the past week alone, especially in the central Bohemian region.
Apart from the capital, six other Czech regions have been hit by a flu epidemic, crossing the threshold of 1,500 infected people per 100,000 inhabitants. Elementary-school children are the most affected, prompting many schools to temporarily close their doors.
Twelve people have died as a result of contracting the influenza.
No coronavirus cases confirmed for now
On the same day, Health Minister Adam Vojtech announced that no confirmed cases of coronavirus had for now been reported in the Czech Republic, with all 34 tested potential cases coming back with results negative.
Initially in effect only at Prague’s main airport, passenger checks and symptom screenings have been implemented in all international airports throughout the Czech Republic after the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared a state of global health emergency as the coronavirus continued to spread around the world.
This is the sixth time the WHO declares a Public Health Emergency of International Concern: Swine flu (2009), Polio (2014), Zika (2016) and Ebola (2014 and 2019).
Last week, the Czech Republic also became the first Schengen country to halt granting visas to Chinese nationals. Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek further added that all Czech visa centres in China had been closed until further notice, while online visa applications have also been stopped.
Possible ban on direct flights from China under discussion
Czech officials are due to meet on Monday to debate potential additional measures, including the possible ban on all direct flights from China. Although unrelated to the coronavirus threat, two Chinese airlines recently announced they were suspending or reducing the frequency of their direct connections with Prague.
According to a Median agency study, 63% of the population is worried about the possible spread of the coronavirus in the Czech Republic, with one-third of respondents believing the measures introduced at Prague’s airport are insufficient.
Czech authorities are currently negotiating with French and British counterparts to arrange the repatriation of five Czech nationals in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicenter of the epidemic which has been put into lock-down.
Over 250 people have died from the virus in China, with at least 11,000 cases nation-wide. According to the WHO, over 100 cases have also been reported in more than 18 other countries, including France and Germany, without any reported deaths for now.
Main photo credit: Unsplash/Michael Amadeus