July 9, 2020 / 9:39 AM / a month ago

Slovakia reports biggest jump in coronavirus infections since April

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Slovakia on Thursday reported its biggest daily jump in new coronavirus cases since April 22 in a jolt to a country with one of the fewest number of infections and deaths from COVID-19 in Europe so far.

Prime Minister Igor Matovic said 53 new cases recorded on Wednesday - the seventh day since June 30 the daily rise was in double digits - was “not a positive figure” but that he believed Slovakia could still head off a second wave of the pandemic.

On Monday epidemiological authorities in the central European country will look at whether tighter restrictions need to be imposed again to contain the contagion.

Matovic said this could include a legal amendment so that people returning from riskier destinations abroad could be contacted by text message and required to report to authorities.

Earlier on Thursday he hinted the state could again reimpose restrictions when he wrote on his Facebook page: “Too many (cases) for us to continue to rely on people’s responsibility.”

The Health Ministry said regional health authorities had identified outbreaks and the situation was under control.

Slovakia’s largest daily spike in cases was 114 in April. In total, it has reported 1,851 infections, of which 1,477 have recovered and 28 have died. Active cases, at 346, are the highest since May 12.

While the increase in infections is relatively small compared to western European neighbours, it comes after the country of 5.5 million went through May and June with daily case numbers mostly in the single digits.

“I believe that, despite the not positive figure from today, we will together manage to prevent this second wave from coming to Slovakia and that we will manage the coming days, weeks and months as successfully as the first wave,” Matovic told a televised briefing in Bratislava.

Slovakia was one of the first European nations to shut schools, shops and borders when the pandemic hit the continent in March. Restrictions have since been lifted and travel into and out of the country has resumed during the tourist season.

(For an interactive graphic on new coronavirus cases in Slovakia, click here)

Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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