Czech Republic, Slovakia see record cases, mull restrictions

PRAGUE (AP) — PRAGUE — The Czech Republic and Slovakia reported record numbers of new coronavirus cases per day on Wednesday, a day before the governments of neighboring European countries plan to approve new restrictions in response to rising infections.

The Czech daily number rose to 22,479 new cases, eclipsing the previous record set on January 7 by nearly 5,000 and nearly 8,000 more than a week ago.

The number of infections in the country rose in the past seven days to 813 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants, from 558 a week earlier.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the government is considering several options, including following neighboring Austria in ordering a lockdown for unvaccinated residents. Another measure under review is that people will no longer be allowed to attend public events or go to bars and restaurants based on the coronavirus test results.

Slovakia reported 8,342 new virus cases, surpassing the previous record of 7,244 set Friday. Slovakia’s government plans new restrictions on unvaccinated people as the country’s hospitals become overrun with COVID-19 patients.

Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger said his cabinet will vote on recommendations from an advisory group of medical experts on Thursday. One of the proposals, which would be tabled for three weeks, is to ban unvaccinated individuals from non-essential shops, malls, gyms, swimming pools, hotels and mass public gatherings.

The Slovak Ministry of Health said 81% of the 2,879 COVID-19 patients admitted to the country have not received coronavirus vaccines.

In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the vaccination rate is below the average of the 27 countries of the European Union.

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