Czech Republic, Slovakia see record coronavirus cases, mull restrictions
PRAGUE: The Czech Republic and Slovakia reported record daily numbers of new coronavirus cases Wednesday, a day before the governments of the neighboring European countries plan to approve new restrictions in response to rising infections.
The Czech daily tally soared to 22,479 new cases, eclipsing the previous record set Jan. 7 by almost 5,000 and nearly 8,000 more than a week ago.
The country’s infection rate rose to 813 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, up from 558 a week earlier.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the government is considering several options, including following neighboring Austria in ordering a lockdown for unvaccinated residents. Another measure under review is no longer allowing people to attend public events or go to bars and restaurants based on coronavirus test results.
Slovakia reported 8,342 new virus cases, surpassing the previous record of 7,244 set Friday. The Slovakian government is planning new restrictions on unvaccinated people as the country's hospitals are getting overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger said his Cabinet would vote Thursday on recommendations from an advisory group of medical experts. Among the proposals, which would be instituted for three weeks, are banning unvaccinated individuals from non-essential stores, shopping malls, gyms, pools, hotels and mass public gatherings.
Slovakia's Health Ministry said that 81% of the country's 2,879 hospitalized COVID-19 patients have not received coronavirus vaccines.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia have vaccination rates below the average of the 27 European Union nations.