The Czech Republic is teetering on the verge of a respiratory disease epidemic, prominently influenced by the ongoing prevalence of Covid-19. The virus is being confirmed in around two thousand individuals daily, marking a substantial impact on the healthcare landscape. However, compared to previous years, a notable proportion of patients are experiencing the disease without severe complications that necessitate hospitalization.
Despite the current strain on the healthcare system and ongoing doctor protests, the positive aspect lies in the manageable influx of patients, preventing an overwhelming burden on hospitals operating under modified conditions.
Jan Kynčl, an epidemiologist at the National Health Institute, remarks, “The disease incidence is slightly higher than usual for this time of year. Respiratory infections are spreading earlier this year.” He notes that while Covid-19 remains dominant, it is not saturating hospitals, evolving into one of several respiratory viruses. Kynčl clarifies that the situation does not yet warrant the classification of an epidemic.
The incidence of acute respiratory infections in the Czech Republic stands at 1,457 per 100,000 inhabitants. An epidemic is typically declared when this figure surpasses the range of 1,600 to 1,700 cases.
Despite a high percentage of individuals showing symptoms of the disease testing positive for COVID-19, the impact on hospitals is not commensurate. As of Monday, approximately 550 patients were hospitalized with Covid, with around 40 in intensive care units—a situation reminiscent of the end of last year and this spring.
Kynčl underscores the importance of wearing masks and appeals for public cooperation, stating, “Please don’t be ashamed of wearing masks! It’s not a sign of unnecessary panic; it’s not shameful. On the contrary, it says you are considerate of your surroundings.” Additionally, he advocates for timely vaccinations against COVID-19, influenza, or pneumococci, emphasizing that the current circumstances present an opportune moment for such preventive measures.