Czech Health Minister Says New Restrictions Likely As COVID Cases Spike
The new Czech health minister said on Tuesday that tighter restrictions on bars and public events were imminent, a day after his predecessor quit amid a spike in COVID19 infections which has caused cases in the country to double in three weeks.
- Last Updated: September 22, 2020, 15:01 IST
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PRAGUE: The new Czech health minister said on Tuesday that tighter restrictions on bars and public events were imminent, a day after his predecessor quit amid a spike in COVID-19 infections which has caused cases in the country to double in three weeks.
The Czech Republic recorded 1,476 new coronavirus cases on Monday, data from the health ministry showed, bringing the overall number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic to 50,764.
Health Minister Roman Prymula told reporters that in the coming days, closing hours for bars would likely be moved to 10 p.m. from midnight, and the number of participants at most public events limited.
“Mass events will undoubtedly have to be limited,” he said.
The Czech Republic acted quickly at the start of the pandemic in March, closing most retail business, borders and schools before many other countries in Europe. Its death toll was 522 as of Tuesday, a fraction of the tens of thousands of victims in countries such as Spain, England and France.
The government then removed most restrictions in the summer, and since then the rate of infection has soared, making it the second fastest in Europe after Spain when comparing new cases per population on a rolling two-week basis.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis, speaking alongside Prymula, admitted public health services were overwhelmed and unable to trace contacts of all infected people within 48 hours in Prague and central Czech Republic.
He said the government would focus on securing enough hospital capacity for later in the year. Babis has come under fire for his response to the pandemic. On Monday he chose Prymula, a top epidemiologist, to replace the previous health minister. [nL5N2GI0XH]
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