PRAGUE (Reuters) – The Czech government will tighten coronavirus measures from Wednesday to curb soaring infections and hospitalisations but will seek to avoid the kind of blanket lockdown imposed in the spring, government officials said on Sunday.
The nation of 10.7 million has recorded Europe’s fastest rate of growth in new cases per capita in recent weeks after authorities eased most restrictions during the summer following a tough lockdown at the start of the pandemic.
“We have to decide on further measures, that will happen on Monday at the government session, and the measures will be effective from Wednesday,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis said in a video message on YouTube.
He did not give any details on the measures.
Finance Minister Alena Schillerova said earlier on Sunday that the government sought to avoid the complete lockdown the country experienced in spring.
“We don’t want to switch off the economy. We want to have it (the measures) more targetted… We will limit contacts and gatherings of people,” she said.
So far in October, the Czech Republic has reported more than 43,000 cases, the same number as for the whole of September. The number of hospitalised patients jumped by 76% to 2,085 in the past week, raising concerns that hospitals may soon be overwhelmed.
Some hospitals have started postponing planned procedures to make space for COVID-19 patients, while the Czech Medical Chamber warned last Sunday that the number of infected doctors, nurses and other medical staff was rising rapidly.
(Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Michael Kahn, Gareth Jones and Frances Kerry)