The Malta Independent 3 December 2021, Friday

Covid-19 infections soar: Czech Republic imposes new restrictions, Serbia introduces evening passes

Associated Press Thursday, 21 October 2021, 06:56 Last update: about 2 months ago

The Czech Republic on Wednesday approved several new measures to tame a steep rise in coronavirus infections, which have reached levels unseen since late April.

Face coverings will be mandatory at workplaces, starting on Monday. And as of Nov 1, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other indoor places will need to check whether the patrons have the required COVID-19 certificate confirming they have been vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from the virus.


The government also decided to limit the time for which negative tests are valid. The national health insurance also will not cover the costs of coronavirus tests now for non-medical purposes such as traveling or visiting restaurants, in an effort to prod more people to get vaccinated.

The Czech Republic's day-to-day increase in new COVID-19 cases reached 3,246 on Tuesday, more than double the cases a week ago. It was the highest number since April 20, the Health Ministry said Wednesday. The new infections surpassed 100 per 100,000 people in seven days with 117 positive cases.

The spike in COVID-19 infections has been accompanied by increasing numbers of people who need hospitalization and rising COVID-19 deaths. A total of 620 COVID-19 patients were in Czech hospitals on Tuesday, with about 100 of them in serious condition. That is more than twice as many as two weeks ago.

In last seven days, 51 people have died of COVID-19.

The Czech Republic has been one of the hardest hit of the European Union's 27 countries in the pandemic, with 1.7 million confirmed COVID-19 infections and 30,574 deaths.

Only just over 6 million have been fully vaccinated in the nation of 10.7 million, which is below the EU average.


Serbia on Wednesday introduced COVID-19 passes for indoor venues late at night following weeks of surging infections and relatively low vaccination rates.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said the new measure will take effect on Saturday and will be applied starting from 10 p.m. in bars, restaurants, nightclubs or any other indoor gatherings.

Medical experts repeatedly have urged Serbian authorities to tighten the country's loose anti-virus measures. Serbia has seen several thousand new infections a day since early October and about 50 virus-related deaths a day.

Infections also have soared in other Central and Eastern European countries where vaccination rates are lower than European Union average.

Brnabic said the introduction of COVID-19 passes will be confirmed at a government session on Thursday. She said late evening hours are when nightclubs have their biggest crowds. The passes will show a person's vaccination status, or if they have recovered from the virus or tested negative recently.

“We hope this will boost vaccinations,” said Brnabic after a session of Serbia's pandemic crisis group. “This is the only way to beat the coronavirus.”

Serbia has had more than 1 million infections and nearly 10,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Around half of the adults in the country of 7 million have been fully vaccinated.

Coronavirus infections also have been rising in neighboring Croatia, which on Wednesday reported more than 3,000 new cases, the highest number in months and about 1,000 more than last week.

Croatia also has a vaccination rate around 50% of its adult population. Media reported that people lined up Wednesday at a vaccination site in the capital of Zagreb following the latest uptick in infections.

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