Czech Republic's daily COVID-19 infections top 11,000 for first time

FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a face mask walks across the medieval Charles Bridge, as the Czech government shut sports, culture and social venues for two weeks to slow down the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Prague, Czech Republic, October 12, 2020. REUTERS/David W Cerny

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech Republic, facing Europe’s biggest surge in new coronavirus infections per capita, reported 11,105 COVID-19 cases on Friday, its largest single-day tally so far of the pandemic, Health Ministry data showed on Saturday.

The total number of cases the country has detected since March has risen to 160,112, double the number seen on Oct. 2 and more than six times the amount overall before September.

In the two weeks to Friday, the Czech Republic recorded more than 74,000 cases, 10,000 more than Italy which has almost six times the population, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Czech hospitals are racing to free up capacity with patient numbers tripling this month to 3,120, more than seven times the peak seen in the first wave of the disease.

The country of 10.7 million has reported 333 deaths in the past seven days to bring its total to 1,283.

Health officials have warned that the coming weeks will be difficult but said on Friday the system was not facing collapse. They estimate up to 5,000 patients will be in hospital by the end of the month, with a fifth of in intensive care.

The government is securing treatment space outside of hospitals, including building a makeshift medical facility at a fairground in Prague.

It has also agreed with larger neighbour Germany - which has seen 10 times fewer cases per capita over the past two weeks than the Czech Republic - to possibly send some Czech patients to its hospitals.

To fight the spread of the coronavirus, the government has closed bars and restaurants, sport and fitness centres, theatres and cinemas, and shifted schools to distance learning.

Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Kirsten Donovan