Czech infections hit new record high, president going home

Health

Health workers at the Motol University Hospital take out of army helicopter one of the patients with COVID-19, who was transported to Prague from a hospital in Brno, Czech Republic, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021. COVID spread reaches another record in Czech Republic, with 27,717 new confirmed COVID cases on Thursday, another daily maximum since the start of the epidemic. (Vit Simanek / CTK via AP)

PRAGUE (AP) — Coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic jumped to a new record high Friday, a surge that hit the country’s president and delayed the appointment of the new prime minister.

The Health Ministry said the daily tally of new cases hit 27,717 the previous day. That’s almost 2,000 more than the previous record, set on Tuesday.

The country’s infection rate has risen to a new record high of 1,231 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days.

Meanwhile, Czech President Milos Zeman will be discharged from Prague’s military hospital on Saturday. A day earlier, he was discharged following more than a month’s treatment for an unspecified illness but was readmitted only hours later after testing positive for COVID-19. The president received monoclonal antibodies and has no symptoms of COVID-19, the hospital said.

Zeman, 77, was rushed to the hospital on Oct. 10, a day after the election to the lower house of parliament, and was treated in an intensive care unit. His condition was attributed to an unspecified chronic disease.

The presidential office said that after Zeman after being discharged would swear in Petr Fiala, the leader of a coalition that won the election, as the country’s new prime minister. The ceremony had been due to take place on Friday.

“It’s in the interest of everyone to have a new government soon,” Fiala said.

The office said the ceremony will be organized in line with the current coronavirus measures but details were unknown. Those who test positive must isolate in the Czech Republic.

The new record was reported a day after the Czech government declared a 30-day state of emergency and imposed additional coronavirus restrictions in its effort to tackle the surge.

Among the other measures that became effective Friday, all Christmas markets across the country are banned, as is drinking alcohol in public places. Bars, restaurants, night clubs, discotheques and casinos have to close at 10 p.m.

The number of people at culture and sports events will be limited to 1,000 who are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 while all other public gatherings can be attended by up to 100 visitors, down from 1,000.

The nation of 10.7 million has registered 32,643 deaths.

The Czech Republic has also banned entry to foreigners who have spent more than 12 hours in the past two weeks in South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia in reaction to a new coronavirus variant, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

The exceptions include EU nationals and long-term Czech residents.

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