Czechs to tighten coronavirus measures as infections soar -Deputy PM

PRAGUE, Oct 11 (Reuters) - The Czech government will announce stricter measures within days to curb soaring coronavirus infections and hospitalisations but will seek to avoid the kind of blanket lockdown imposed in the spring, a deputy prime minister said on Sunday.

The nation of 10.7 million has recorded Europe’s fastest rate of growth in new cases per capita in recent weeks after authorities eased most restrictions during the summer following a tough lockdown when the pandemic began in March.

“It won’t be entirely (like in spring),” Alena Schillerova said in a debate broadcast on Czech television, adding that the government was likely to announce the measures within two days.

“We don’t want to switch off the economy. We want to have it (the measures) more targetted... We will limit contacts and gatherings of people,” she said.

Her comments came ahead of the government’s planned Security Council meeting on Monday to assess possible measures, the cabinet’s press department said.

So far in October, the Czech Republic has reported more than 43,000 cases, the same number as for the whole of September. The number of hospitalised patients jumped by 76% to 2,085 in the past week, raising fears that hospitals may soon be overwhelmed.

Some hospitals have started postponing planned procedures to make space for COVID-19 patients, while the Czech Medical Chamber warned last Sunday the number of infected doctors, nurses and other medical staff was rising rapidly. (Reporting by Robert Muller, Editing by Michael Kahn and Gareth Jones)