The Czech Republic reported a record high 16,939 daily cases of COVID-19 for the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.
The central European country of 10.7 million people has been one of the hardest hit in Europe relative to its population size, with its total number of detected cases reaching 718,661.
Deaths have reached 11,580 deaths by Thursday, up 151 from the day before. Some of the new deaths were assigned to Wednesday and others to previous days.
The country had slightly relaxed restrictions on business after a previous peak of cases and hospitalisations in November, but has had to tighten again this month.
As of Sunday, a 9 p.m. curfew has been in place, and shops selling non-essential goods closed. Schools are expected to reopen after Christmas break next week only for the first two grades.
The Health Ministry ordered hospitals on Wednesday to halt taking in patients for planned procedures and raise capacities for COVID-19 patients, including intensive care. The number of people with COVID-19 in hospitals was at 5,893 as of Wednesday, including 845 in intensive care, the ministry reported on Thursday. That was still below the November peak of 8,164 but the numbers have risen by a fifth over the past week.
The government expects more hospitalisations as the condition of patients often deteriorates with a delay after they test positive.
Meanwhile, neighbouring Slovakia reported 6,315 new cases of coronavirus, the highest daily number so far, the government said.
The country of 5.5 million has recorded 179,543 cases so far, and 2,138 deaths
Main Photo: A blind musician wearing a protective face mask plays accordion on Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic. EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK