Pandemic COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is a viral disease epidemic caused by the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in the Czech Republic, which is part of a global pandemic that originated in Wuhan city of China in December 2019. The disease rapidly spread beyond mainland China. The first three cases in the Czech Republic were confirmed on Sunday, 1 March 2020. Northern Italy, a favourite ski holiday destination with many Czech people, was initially identified as a major source of infection. A fast epidemic spread worsened a critical shortage of personal protective equipment. As a result, several initiatives were taken, and people began to sew protective facemasks. The Government adopted the first measures against the coronavirus on 3 March 2020. During a press conference, which was held following the Government meeting on 10 March 2020, it was announced that full-time education in schools would be cancelled as of 11 March 2020. A state of emergency was declared on 12 March 2020 imposing restrictions on citizens and certain businesses. As of 16 March 2020, public restaurants and food service establishments were closed, and other services were forbidden, except for the essential ones. On 16 March 2020, the country closed its borders with certain exceptions. On 16 March 2020, the first three patients recovered, and as of 5 April 2020, the 96 originally infected patients repeatedly tested negative. On 22 March 2020, the Czech authorities announced the first COVID-19-related death. On 29 March 2020, the first healthcare worker´s death was reported.

The Czech Republic’s first wave of the pandemic peaked around 12 April 2020 when there were a total of 4,800 cases of COVID-19, of whom 436 people were hospitalised, among whom about 100 patients were in serious condition. Thereafter, recoveries began to outweigh infections and the number of hospital admissions for COVID-19 declined. The number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 stabilised at 2,000-2,500 during May and June 2020.

The number of infected and ill people began to rise again during the summer of 2020; the capital city of Prague, heavily visited by tourists, emerged as a new major COVID-19 hotspot. In late July and early August 2020, prevalence had increased across the whole country. The highest increase in coronavirus cases were in Prague and in Frýdek-Místek, Brno and Karviná. However, unlike during the spring peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no huge increase in hospital admissions because younger people made up a growing percentage of coronavirus cases. In response to the re-emergence of the infection, the infection risk map was introduced. The “traffic light” map was based on the epidemiological risk of particular districts. By the end of August 2020, there were more than 106 COVID-19 hotspots.

In early September 2020, the Czech Republic was among the countries in Europe, which were hardest hit in terms of new infections per each million of population. On 8 September 2020, the number of newly detected cases exceeded 1,000 people for the first time. More than 2,000 new coronavirus cases were reported for the first time on 16 September 2020. The Opposition parties blamed the Government for a lack of preparedness to tackle the second COVID-19 wave. More than 3,000 new coronavirus cases were reported a day later (17 September 2020) for the first time. On 7 October 2020, there were more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases. On 16 October 2020, the daily number of new cases was more than 10,000 people for the first time (11,105 cases in total). On 23 October 2020, the daily increase in COVID-19 cases exceeded 15,000 for the first time.

As of 14 October 2020, all schools except kindergartens were closed again. The new measures included the closure of pubs and restaurants and a ban on public alcohol consumption. The people were also prevented from gathering in public. A limit on group sizes to a maximum of six people was introduced.

The strictest measures were to last until 3 November 2020. As of 28. October 2020, the night-time curfew applied from 9 pm to 5 am. As of 1 November 2020, according to available data, the Czech Republic had the highest number of weekly new confirmed COVID-19 deaths per million people anywhere in the world. Vaccination against COVID-19 began in late December 2020. As of 30 December 2020, there were more than 17,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time. In early January 2021, the Czech Republic saw the highest number anywhere in the world of newly confirmed cases per each million of the population. The high numbers were also due to the extensive testing of the population. The prospective, population-based study by RECETOX – Masaryk University in Brno on the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in the Czech population confirmed that 51% of the population was exposed to the SARS-COV-2 by March 2021.

As of 27 March 2023, a total of 22,12 million tests were recorded in the Czech Republic, there were 4,63 million confirmed coronavirus infections, 4,58 million people had recovered, and there were 494,62 thousand COVID-19 deaths. As of the same date, there were 6,48 million fully vaccinated people and 494,62 thousand partially vaccinated people.

As historians, we need to cover the chronologic and thematic units that frame the COVID-19 pandemic from both the Czech and international perspectives. We aim to design the chronology of key events of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Czech Republic and worldwide interactively so that it can serve as a tool for finding various information for various groups of people (public and professionals, teachers and students from different types of schools).

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