Těchonín and the coronavirus: The Biological Defence Centre of the Army of the Czech Republic is capable of activation within 12 hours

 31. 01. 2020      category: Army of the Czech Republic

The coronavirus is constantly talked about at present together with the potentially infected people travelling to the Czech Republic. No suspicion has been confirmed so far, and most of the potentially infected were transferred to the hospital Na Bulovce in Prague. However, in case of an outbreak, the Army of the Czech Republic has its own specialized medical facility. It is the Biological Defence Centre, located in Těchonín in the Orlické Mountains.

Picture: The Biological Defence Centre in Těchonín | Mapy.cz

Let’s see what the coronavirus actually is. Coronaviruses were originally known only as the carriers of animal and bird infections. These were individual forms of the genus Alphacoronavirus, which caused, for example, viral infections of poultry and other birds, but also cattle or domestic animals (dogs and cats). Since the 1960s they have also been found in human diseases. Initially, these were carriers of just common colds, but in 2002 a coronavirus from the genus Betacoronavirus appeared, causing severe SARS illness (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). Ten years later, a new form - MERS - was diagnosed causing a similarly serious disease. At the end of last year, a new type of dangerous coronavirus 2019-nCoV appeared in China and began to spread to other countries. There are still new reports of infected people or suspected infection coming every day. So how is the Czech Republic prepared for the above-mentioned disease and what health centre does it have?

Picture: In 2002 a coronavirus from the genus Betacoronavirus appeared, causing severe SARS illness | Wikimedia Commons

First of all, there is no need for hysteria. The buying up of practically ineffective masks, the prices of which have risen sharply recently, shows in particular the greed of sellers and the exploitation of the whole situation. It is essential not to panic and to know what resources the Czech Republic has available if necessary. Apart from the very solid medical background of ordinary hospitals, there is also a unique facility in the Czech Republic that can be activated within hours.

Picture: The Biological Defence Centre for particularly dangerous diseases with biosafety level (BSL) 3 (e.g. Korean haemorrhagic fever, typhus, HIV, tuberculosis or anthrax) and BSL 4 (e.g. SARS, lassa, variola or ebola), (illustrative photo) | FB ZZS JMK

The aforementioned facility is Těchonín and it is a special hospital hidden in the Orlické Mountains. There had been a private military hospital in the municipality since the 1970s, which was rebuilt and modernized (2003-2007) at a cost of CZK 1.2 billion as a Biological Defence Centre focused on particularly dangerous diseases with BSL 3 (for example Korean haemorrhagic fever, typhus, HIV, tuberculosis or anthrax) and BSL 4 (for example SARS, lassa, variola or ebola), and contracted to serve for some other NATO countries.

This hospital has been kept on standby for a long time, but it only rarely treated patients, for example several Czech soldiers spent a few days there for check-up and observation after returning from foreign missions. The Ministry of Defence reports annual operating costs of CZK 126 million, but according to some sources, the total price must be much higher. The facility has no contracts with health insurance companies and all activities are covered from the state budget. The Biological Defence Centre also employs a number of local people. This first-rate facility is our so-called backup in the event of a real emergency and hopefully its activation will not be necessary.

 Author: Martin Šiška