|The antibody test will be wider compared to what other European countries and the US have achieved in the past weeks and all age groups will be involved in it./ Photo by Petr Pohudka via Shutterstock|
The Czech Republic will be conducting Covid-19 antibody tests on 27,000 people to know how many have come into contact with the virus, the country’s office announced on Tuesday, as published by The New York Times.
The antibody test will be wider compared to what other European countries and the US have achieved in the past weeks and all age groups will be involved in it.
Institute of Health Information and Statistics Director Ladislav Dusek said that they have chosen four regions, including areas with low cases of Covid-19 and those with high cases. The results of their tests may be available in early May and are expected to provide the government with a clearer view of several asymptomatic cases there are.
Results are also hoped to assist authorities in their decision-making on what other measures to adopt to contain the coronavirus. In a news conference, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said that the study is an important lead for them. If the rate is higher, the more positive the situation will be.
Czech, a country of 10.7 million people, has adopted strict measures early on, such as a ban on the majority of foreign travel, closures of schools and shops, and mandatory use of face masks in the public. These strict measures enabled the country to experience the pandemic in a less severe way than other European nations.
|The government is also finding ways to support the tourism industry that is hit the hardest by the pandemic. / Photo by Petr Pohudka via Shutterstock|
The rapid test of determining the people with Covid-19 antibodies will also give the government the information of those who have been infected in the past. If the result is positive, the subject will then be offered a swab test to know if they are still a carrier of the virus.
Deputy Health Minister Roman Prymula expects that the percentage of the population carrying the Covid-19 antibodies will be in the single digits, which means they are not that many and that Czech is far from the level of herd immunity. It is a form of indirect protection from the infectious disease, wherein a majority of the population is immune from the infection. This would help those who are not yet immune from the infection because the people around them buffer the transmission. However, natural herd immunity that is achieved through infection and not vaccination is challenging because it also means a high rate of serious illness and the country’s health system may be overwhelmed beyond their capacity.
Total coronavirus cases and hospital bed capacity in Czechia
In 2000, there was a 7.8 hospital bed capacity per 1,000 people in the Czech Republic but they dropped to 6.5 in 2013. This is the latest from the World Health Organization (WHO), supplemented by the country data. WHO said that hospital beds are used to indicate the availability of inpatient services in the country. No global norm for hospital bed density concerning the total population has been established.
From 3 cases of Covid-19 on March 1, it grew to 694 on March 19 and 4,822 on April 6. The total cases of coronavirus in the country as of April 22 reached 7, 132. On the same day, 208 deaths were recorded due to Covid-19, according to real-time world statistics platform Worldometer. There are 2,002 recovered patients in the country, a number higher than other nations if the total cases are considered.
So far, the country has already done 178,617 Covid-19 tests, different from antibody testing.
A study involving 863 US residents from Los Angeles County shows 4.1% of adults have antibodies for Covid-19. This suggests that the infection rate may be 40 times higher than what confirmed cases show. In another study in Austria, researchers tested more than 1,500 people but only found less than 1% of them were infected in early April.
Czechs banned from travel in Europe
The Czech government has banned its citizens from traveling abroad within Europe when it declared a state of emergency on March 16. A month later, the travel restrictions were partially eased. Those who are traveling due to business or family reasons can leave the country and if they stayed abroad for more than 24 hours, they are required to undergo a two-week quarantine after they return to Czechia.
Aside from Czech, Belgium is another exception in Europe that forbid its citizen to go out of the country over “non-essential” cases.
Some lawyers in Czech believe that the travel ban is unconstitutional even if it is during a state of emergency. The law should suppose to limit only the citizen’s movement in a defined area and the whole world cannot be considered a defined area, says constitutional law expert Jan Wintr said via media outlet Prague Morning. The right to leave the country is also guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. Regardless of this, the government has defended the travel ban. Interior Minister Jan Hamáček said, “we cannot open the borders at present.”
The government is also finding ways to support the tourism industry that is hit the hardest by the pandemic. They have sought the help of the Ministry of Regional Development to create a plan to keep their domestic tourism alive. Starting May, the ministry plans to provide companies a contribution to holiday gift vouchers so that companies can also offer vacation vouchers to their employees. Firms that will offer these vacation vouchers worth 10,000 CZK to their workers can then deduct the cost from certain taxes.
The tourism sector is one of the economic industries in the Czech Republic although it relies heavily on foreign tourists. Considering that the country’s borders will remain closed in the hope to contain the virus, the tourism industry will rely solely on local visitors in the next few months or possibly years. Czech Republic’s Tourism Revenue reached US$7.7 billion in December 2018 and $8.2 billion in 2018.
Visitor arrivals reached 10,611,000 persons in December 2018 from 10,160,000 people a year before, according to economic data platform CEIC.
WHO's Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom said, "All countries can still change the course of this pandemic."
Travel restrictions can help a country quickly contain the initial emergence of a pandemic while the antibody tests can potentially identify those who have developed immunity with the Covid-19. Both play a crucial role in the fight to beat Covid-19.