Czech government looks to more measures as COVID cases hit records

People wait in a line to get the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at Prague's main railway station, Czech Republic, November 22, 2021. REUTERS/David W Cerny
  • Daily COVID-19 cases reach more than 25,000
  • Some regions look at tougher restrictions as hospitals hit
  • Government to discuss new measures on Friday
  • Restrictions against unvaccinated in place since Monday

PRAGUE, Nov 24 (Reuters) - The Czech Republic reported its highest daily rise in new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday as cases surpassed 25,000 for the first time and put further strain on hospitals, prompting the government to consider tougher measures.

The country of 10.7 million has the world's fourth-highest infection rate per capita, according to Our World in Data, with Europe again an epicentre for the pandemic.

The Czech government, due to hand over power in the coming weeks after losing an October election, has already put in place measures barring unvaccinated people from visiting restaurants, cinemas and other services such as hairdressers, aiming to boost vaccination figures that lag many in the European Union.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

The outgoing administration is also looking to institute mandatory vaccines for people over 60 and some professions, like healthcare workers, to be discussed next week. read more

Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Wednesday the cabinet would debate more measures on Friday, but gave no further details.

Medical groups have called for tougher lockdown measures, even as politicians have been cool to the idea, unlike in neighbouring Austria, which is locked down for at least 10 days.

Slovakia, another neighbour, was debating on Wednesday a similar short-term lockdown to battle the world's fastest surge in COVID-19 infections. read more

The Czech Health Ministry reported 25,864 new coronavirus cases for Tuesday. Hospitalisations have jumped to around 5,600, from under 1,000 a month ago, and are the highest since April but below a peak of 9,551.

One eastern region on Tuesday announced measures to limit social gathering for two weeks to protect its hospitals.

In Kyjov, in the southeast, capacity for patients who need lung ventilation would be filled in the coming days, a spokesman said. The hospital in nearby Vyskov was full, its director told CTK news agency.

In Prague, the largest Czech hospital, Motol, said it would stop planned operations next week to deal with Covid patients.

The reaction to the surge in cases is complicated by the transfer of power. Centre-right parties negotiating a new government said on Wednesday they would avoid locking down schools and spoke against mandatory vaccines.

The parties said their actions will be driven by the situation in hospitals, not the number of new infections.

"It is obvious that COVID will be here for longer, and we have to learn how to live with it, how to deal with the situation," said Petr Fiala, the coalition's prime minister candidate who was due to be appointed on Friday.

Reuters Graphics
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Reporting by Jason Hovet and Robert Muller; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Kirsten Donovan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.