July 5, 2020 / 2:10 PM / in a month

Coronavirus cases in Czech mining area are under control, minister says

PRAGUE (Reuters) - A rise in new coronavirus infections in a Czech coal mining region that has driven a recent jump in overall cases is under control and should ease soon, the health minister said on Sunday amid criticism.

State hard coal miner OKD last week closed its mines in the Karvina area in the country’s east, along the Polish border, after a jump in cases among miners and their close contacts.

The rise has caused overall case numbers to accelerate, prompting some other European Union members like Slovenia to bump the Czech Republic from their list of safe countries, complicating travel at the start of the summer holiday season.

Responding to criticism from an opposition leader, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said on Twitter: “The situation is under control and in the coming days we expect another drop in cases if everyone (infected) will maintain a quarantine and (abide by) set rules.”

In the majority of new cases, patients showed only light symptoms or none at all, Vojtech told news website Novinky.cz.

The country has reported a total of 12,440 cases, including 121 new cases on Saturday, with an overall death toll of 351, still far lower than many western European countries. The recent surge peaked with 305 new cases on June 28.

The jump comes after a period since mid-April when the daily case rise was mostly below 100.

The region of Karvina, where OKD’s operations are based, has had 247 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days compared to a rate of around 10 overall in the country.

The government, which has relaxed most restrictions on public life in the country, has maintained tougher measures in the region to try to limit the spread of the virus.

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

Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Frances Kerry

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