Czech Republic announces stricter lockdown as coronavirus infections soar

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The Czech Republic on Thursday announced a stricter lockdown in three districts from east to west where coronavirus infections have soared, and hospitals are struggling to cope.

The order means a ban on movement from and into the eastern district of Trutnov on the border with Poland and the western districts of Cheb and Sokolov on the border with Germany, Health Minister Jan Blatny said.

The restrictions will take effect on Friday, Blatny said, but they depend on an extension of a national state of emergency beyond Sunday which the minority government may be unable to secure in a parliamentary vote expected later in the day.

The three districts are home to around 300,000 people, and infection rates there were at 1,091-1,183 per 100,000 in the past week, according to ministry data.

“These are areas where the number of infections is three to four times higher than elsewhere,” Blatny told reporters.

“We have decided to limit free movement in these regions beyond the national measures, and, apart from exceptions, to ban people who live here to leave and people who do not live here to enter.”

There will be exceptions for people who can prove they are on the way to work and children who attend school elsewhere, he said.

The country of 10.7 million has suffered one of Europe’s worst coronavirus flare-ups with daily cases around 9,000 in recent days. It has reported 17,772 deaths overall.

Hospitals in the affected regions have been forced to transfer patients to less stretched areas of the country.

Police will be enforcing the ban, which includes mountain areas where many Czech have second homes, Blatny said.

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