June 29, 2020 / 6:13 AM / 2 months ago

Czech coronavirus cases jump again, centred on mine outbreak

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech Republic reported 305 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the highest daily tally since April 3, which the government said was mainly the result of an outbreak in an eastern mining area rather than a nationwide second wave of infection.

FILE PHOTO: People ride pedal boats on the Vltava river following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Prague, Czech Republic, June 22, 2020. REUTERS/David W Cerny/File Photo

The new cases, the fourth highest daily total on record, result mostly from blanket testing of employees of coal mines operated by state-owned group OKD and of their family and other contacts, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said.

The affected regions of Karvina and Frydek-Mistek border Poland and Slovakia, which have also had elevated numbers in those frontier areas relative to other parts of those countries.

Vojtech said he hoped the numbers would come down in coming days once the mine employees are tested.

“We are convinced that the situation, while the numbers are quite high, is largely under control,” Vojtech told a news conference. “We are not seeing that the situation has an impact on the number of hospitalisations.”

The Czech Republic has removed most measures to halt the spread of the virus, and the relaxation was set to continue with the exception of the affected regions, where hospital and care home visits will be banned as well as events over 100 people, and mask wearing rules will be stricter than elsewhere.

The jump was the fourth straight daily rise and brings the total number of cases to 11,603. There have been 348 deaths in the country of 10.7 million.

The government, which was among the first to shut borders, schools and retail as well as order mask-wearing in March, has said it would focus on tracing and local measures in the future.

** For an interactive graphic on new coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic: tmsnrt.rs/3dIscS3?eikon=true

(GRAPHIC: New coronavirus in the Czech Republic - here)

Reporting by Robert Muller and Jan Lopatka; Editing by Tom Hogue, William Maclean

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