Czech curbs movement to halt Covid-19 surge

Photo: EPA Andrej Babis

The Czech cabinet authorized new restrictions on movement and enforced a 30-day state of emergency in a bid to slow the latest spike of new Covid-19 infections, Reuters reported. Under the new restrictions all schools and shops will be closed.

With a population of some 10 million, last week the Czech Republic reported average daily number of new cases exceeding 14,000. Total death-toll surged above 20,000, bringing the country as worst affected by pandemic European country.

The country is facing a renewed surge in infections, accelerated by the British variant. The number of patients in serious condition is a record. Some hospitals have been forced to transfer patients hundreds of miles away due to capacity. Prime Minister Andrej Babis said he wanted to avoid scenes seen from Bergamo in northern Italy, which was Europe’s epicenter at the outset of the pandemic last year and whose overwhelmed hospitals shocked the world.

“I understand it is a great burden for everyone, we are not happy about it. But if we don’t do anything, the whole world will see Bergamo” in the Czech Republic, Babis said. The new restrictions, effective from Monday, will limit people’s movement only to home districts, except for essential trips.

The government also reduced the list of essential shops, closing, for example, stationery stores or those selling children’s shoes and clothing. It adds to non-essential retail shops, restaurants, most services, gyms and entertainment venues that have been almost continuously closed since October. Pre-schools will shut and first- and second-graders will shift to online schooling like other students. Health Minister Jan Blatny said daily infections would rise above recent highs of 18,000 in the coming one or two weeks and would not fall without tighter measures. The limits on movement are possible after the government called a new state of emergency effective Saturday for 30 days.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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