Czech Republic imposes new restrictions as infections soar

Health

FILE – In this March 16, 2020 file photo a young man wearing a face mask walks across an empty Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic. The Czech Republic has been hit by a steep rise in COVID-19 infections that have reached the levels unseen since late April, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday Oct. 20, 2021. The day-to-day increase in new cases reached 3,246 on Tuesday, more than double the cases a week ago when it was 1,507. It was the highest number since April 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)

PRAGUE (AP) — The Czech Republic on Wednesday approved several new measures to tame a steep rise in coronavirus infections, which have reached levels unseen since late April.

Face coverings will be mandatory at workplaces, starting on Monday. And as of Nov 1, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other indoor places will need to check whether the patrons have the required COVID-19 certificate confirming they have been vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from the virus.

The government also decided to limit the time for which negative tests are valid. The national health insurance also will not cover the costs of coronavirus tests now for non-medical purposes such as traveling or visiting restaurants, in an effort to prod more people to get vaccinated.

The Czech Republic’s day-to-day increase in new COVID-19 cases reached 3,246 on Tuesday, more than double the cases a week ago. It was the highest number since April 20, the Health Ministry said Wednesday. The new infections surpassed 100 per 100,000 people in seven days with 117 positive cases.

The spike in COVID-19 infections has been accompanied by increasing numbers of people who need hospitalization and rising COVID-19 deaths. A total of 620 COVID-19 patients were in Czech hospitals on Tuesday, with about 100 of them in serious condition. That is more than twice as many as two weeks ago.

In last seven days, 51 people have died of COVID-19.

The Czech Republic has been one of the hardest hit of the European Union’s 27 countries in the pandemic, with 1.7 million confirmed COVID-19 infections and 30,574 deaths.

Only just over 6 million have been fully vaccinated in the nation of 10.7 million, which is below the EU average.

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