PRAGUE (Reuters) – The tally of coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic has exceeded 3,000 as the central European country ramps up testing and keeps strict measures in place to curb the outbreak.
The country of 10.7 million people has seen the highest number of cases among the European Union’s eastern wing but far fewer than in western neighbours like Germany and Austria.
The growth rate of new cases has shown signs of slowing, however, and the government said on Monday it hoped to begin easing restrictions on daily life after the Easter holiday in April if the situation is under control.
The Health Ministry reported the number of new cases rose by 184 on Monday to 3,001, a 6.5% increase, which is the second-lowest daily rise since the first infections were reported on March 1. By early Tuesday morning the number of cases stood at 3,002.
The Czech Republic has recorded 24 deaths and has 291 people in hospital, including 64 in intensive care.
The number of daily tests was a record 5,313 on Monday, more than double the figure a week earlier, bringing the total number of tests to 48,811.
The government aims to increase the testing capacity to 10,000 per day and boost the tracking of contacts of infected people to improve the targeting of quarantine measures.
The Czech government was one of the quickest in Europe to act when the virus started spreading throughout the continent.
The Czechs have shut borders to international travel and anyone returning to the country is subject to mandatory home quarantine.
The government also requires everyone to wear face masks in public and has banned gatherings of more than two people.
It extended measures on Monday, keeping most shops and restaurants closed until April 11 along with restrictions limiting people’s movements to essential shopping, work or family matters.
(Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Ed Osmond)