Czech Republic tops record infection surge in Eastern Europe

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Healthcare workers attending to COVID-19 patients in an intensive care unit (ICU) at Na Bulovce hospital in Prague, Czech Republic, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. A record surge of new coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic in September has been followed by a record surge of those hospitalized with COVID-19. The development has started to put the health system in the country under serious pressure for the first time since the pandemic hit Europe. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

PRAGUE – The Czech government announced further restrictions Thursday to contain the pandemic in the hardest hit-country in struggling Central and Eastern Europe, where a record surge of infections was also recorded in most other countries.

Calling his country's record spike “alarming,” Health Minister Roman Prymula said the Czech health care system has been facing a steep increase of people needing intensive care, while more COVID-19 patients have been dying.

“We have to limit those increases,” Prymula said.

The Czech Republic currently has more people testing positive daily than any other country in Central and Eastern Europe, even neighboring Germany whose population is eight times bigger.

Starting Monday, all theaters, cinemas and zoos will be closed for at least two weeks.

“We have to limit the numbers of people who meet each other outside their families,” Prymula said.

At the same time, all indoor sports activities will be banned. Outdoors, only up to 20 people will be allowed to participate in competitions, a measure that will badly hit professional sports such as soccer.

Prymula said planned outdoor international games will be allowed to go ahead without fans.