Czechs shorten COVID isolation, quarantine, due to omicron

Health

FILE- A woman undergoes the rapid antigen test for the coronavirus in Prague, Czech Republic, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. On Wednesday Jan. 5, 2022 the Czech Republic’s government decided to cut quarantine restrictions from fourteen to five days while also similarly shortened time for close contacts of infected people to isolate. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, file)

PRAGUE (AP) — The Czech government decided on Wednesday to cut isolation restrictions for those testing positive for COVID-19 from 14 to five days, and also similarly shortened quarantine time for close contacts of infected people.

The measure will become effective Jan. 11, Health Minister Vlastimil Valek said.

It was approved ahead of an anticipated surge of the coronavirus’ highly contagious omicron variant that experts expect will become dominant in the country later this month.

The Czech decision follows similar measures by several other EU members and the United States in response to omicron variant-driven record surges in infections.

It’s aim is “to prevent the state from collapsing,” Valek said.

At the same time, the government gave a final green light to a plan to test all employees for the coronavirus.

Valek said it will be mandatory for all, including those who have received a booster shot, to have self-tests twice a week, starting on Jan 17.

Valek said he expected the measure to be in place for three weeks. The cost will be covered by health insurers.

New infections in the Czech Republic had been declining since a record high in late November, but started growing again this week.

Overall, the country of 10.7 million has registered more than 2.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases, and 36,397 deaths.

The country’s infection rate was at 368 per 100,000 residents over the past seven days.

Valek again urged people to get vaccinated.

So far, almost 6.7 million Czechs have been fully vaccinated, a rate below the EU average. Another almost 2.6 million have received a booster shot.

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