Czech Republic's COVID-19 daily tally soars as tighter measures start

PRAGUE (Reuters) - A surge in COVID-19 infections in the Czech Republic accelerated, with more than 3,000 cases reported in a single day for the first time on Friday, a day after the daily tally first exceeded 2,000.

The Czech Republic has seen one of the biggest spikes in new coronavirus infections in Europe, with daily case numbers quickly growing from the hundreds into the thousands.

Adjusted for population, only Spain and France have seen a larger jump in cases among European Union countries this month.

The government has reacted by tightening measures, including limiting bars' opening hours from Friday, banning stand-up indoor events and widening mask use in schools.

It hopes to avoid the kind of large-scale lockdown imposed at the start of the pandemic in March that hammered the economy.

Health Ministry data released on Friday showed 3,130 new cases on Thursday, up from 2,137 the day before.

In total, the country of 10.7 million has recorded 44,155 cases, which is roughly double what it had on Aug. 24. It has recorded 489 deaths so far, up 15% since Sept. 1.

The latest daily rise is nearly equal to the number of cases detected between April 22 and June 17, a period where the daily tally was mostly in double digits.

The government says cases are growing among younger people while the number of over-65s testing positive is falling. Hospitalisations have jumped back to around peaks seen in April.

Czech health officials have said case numbers could reach 70,000 this month under a pessimistic scenario where the 'R' number, which represents the average number of people to whom one infected person will pass the virus, stays at 1.6.

(Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Gareth Jones)

09/18/2020 8:50

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