An elderly woman is given the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in a sports hall in Ricany, Czech Republic on Friday, February 26, 2021. New infections due to a highly contagious coronavirus variant and the replenishment of hospitals is one of the hardest hit countries in the European Union is inevitable: closer lockdown. (AP Photo / Petr David Josek)

With a surge in new infections due to a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus and the replenishment of hospitals, one of the worst hit countries in the European Union is facing the inevitable: the closest deadlock since the beginning of the pandemic.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Friday that the new set of measures was necessary “to protect the lives of our citizens”.

“We have to do it to prevent a total collapse of our hospitals,” said Babis. “If we don’t, the whole world will see Bergamo in the Czech Republic.”

He admitted that his government had made mistakes in the past in dealing with the pandemic, but urged the Czechs to abide by the rules, which will go into effect for three weeks on Monday, with the aim of “getting rid of the virus.” stop and return to normal “.

One of the toughest restrictions is that the government restricts people’s free movement by not allowing them to travel to other counties unless they go to work or need to look after their relatives.

“If it is possible, stay at home,” said Interior Minister Jan Hamacek. Hamacek said the measure will be enforced by the police and military.

If people are exercising or just going for a walk, they shouldn’t leave their community.

Further measures are the closure of kindergartens and schools for children with disabilities, which have so far remained open.

The Czechs impose the tightest ban amid the surge in the British variant

Elderly residents sit and wait after receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in a sports hall in Ricany, Czech Republic on Friday, February 26, 2021 – hit countries in the European Union are inevitable: closer lockdown. (AP Photo / Petr David Josek)

In addition, only the shops with essential goods remain open.

“It’s not the best timing, it’s actually late,” Jan Konvalinka, biochemist and vice-rector of Charles University in Prague, told the Czech public broadcaster. “But better late than never, we have to stop it somehow.”

Konvalinka is among a group of scientists who have urged the government to immediately apply strict restrictions to reduce the number of new daily infections to 1,000 confirmed cases. On Thursday it was 14,457, around 2,750 more than a week earlier.

Health Minister Jan Blatny said the new cases could likely climb to around 20,000 a day over the next week before the new measures take effect.

Blatny said people must wear face covers all the time and when working outdoors.

Amid a surge in the UK’s first-identified variant of 7,176 COVID-19 patients in Czech hospitals on Thursday, a record 1,531 required intensive care.

The Czechs impose the tightest ban amid the surge in the British variant

A health care worker goes to the infection ward of the Bulovka Hospital in Prague, Czech Republic on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the pandemic in one of the hardest hit countries in the European Union was “extremely serious” and his government will need to take more restrictive measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo / Petr David Josek)

Another potentially dangerous variant, first discovered in South Africa, was also confirmed in the country this week.

To help the ailing health system and prevent a collapse, the government has discussed an option with Germany and Poland to send Czech COVID-19 patients to their hospitals for treatment, as local clinics are reaching their limits.

The seven-day moving average of daily new cases has increased from 68.83 new cases per 100,000 people on February 11 to 99.94 on Thursday for the past two weeks. According to Johns Hopkins University, this is the worst per capita rate in the world.

The nation of 10.7 million had over 1.2 million confirmed cases with nearly 20,000 deaths.

In order to boost the vaccination program, the Czech Republic has reached out to EU countries and others asking them for vaccines for which they are not directly involved.

  • The Czechs impose the tightest ban amid the surge in the British variant

    A health care worker prepares a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in a sports hall in Ricany, Czech Republic on Friday, February 26, 2021. New infections due to a highly contagious coronavirus variant and the replenishment of hospitals are one of the hardest hit countries in the European Union are inevitable: a closer lockdown. (AP Photo / Petr David Josek)

  • The Czechs impose the tightest ban amid the surge in the British variant

    People with face masks walk across the medieval Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic on Thursday, February 25, 2021. The Czech government is banning citizens and residents from entering the countries affected by highly contagious coronavirus variants and tightening the rules for face coverings. As of Thursday, Czechs will have to wear better masks in places where large numbers congregate, including shops, hospitals, and public transport. (AP Photo / Petr David Josek)

  • The Czechs impose the tightest ban amid the surge in the British variant

    Health care workers take a patient to the infection ward of Bulovka Hospital in Prague, Czech Republic on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the pandemic in one of the hardest hit countries in the European Union is “extremely serious” and his government will need to take more restrictive measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo / Petr David Josek)

  • The Czechs impose the tightest ban amid the surge in the British variant

    An elderly woman is given the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in a sports hall in Ricany, Czech Republic on Friday, February 26, 2021. New infections due to a highly contagious coronavirus variant and the replenishment of hospitals is one of the hardest hit countries in the European Union is inevitable: closer lockdown. (AP Photo / Petr David Josek)

  • The Czechs impose the tightest ban amid the surge in the British variant

    Older men are receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a sports hall in Ricany, Czech Republic, Friday February 26, 2021. With new infections due to a highly contagious variant of coronavirus and the replenishment of hospitals, one of the hardest hit countries in The European Union faces an inevitable problem: a tighter lockdown. (AP Photo / Petr David Josek)

  • The Czechs impose the tightest ban amid the surge in the British variant

    Elderly residents sit and wait after receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in a sports hall in Ricany, Czech Republic on Friday, February 26, 2021 – hit countries in the European Union are inevitable: closer lockdown. (AP Photo / Petr David Josek)

  • The Czechs impose the tightest ban amid the surge in the British variant

    An elderly woman is given the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in a sports hall in Ricany, Czech Republic on Friday, February 26, 2021. New infections due to a highly contagious coronavirus variant and the replenishment of hospitals is one of the hardest hit countries in the European Union is inevitable: closer lockdown. (AP Photo / Petr David Josek)

  • The Czechs impose the tightest ban amid the surge in the British variant

    An elderly man is given the COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna in a sports hall in Ricany, Czech Republic on Friday, February 26, 2021. New infections due to a highly contagious coronavirus variant and the replenishment of hospitals is one of the hardest hit countries in the European Union is inevitable: closer lockdown. (AP Photo / Petr David Josek)

Babis said France had agreed to send 100,000 cans by mid-March. Around 5,000 cans of Moderna were donated by Israel, a close ally.

The Czechs had fired 623,820 shots by Thursday.

The government will also start requiring a multitude of corporate employees and extending the required quarantine from 10 to 14 days to take into account the specifics of the new variants, which are more contagious.

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