The Czech Republic and Slovakia reported record daily numbers of new coronavirus cases Wednesday, a day before the governments of the neighbouring European countries plan to approve new restrictions in response to rising infections.
The Czech daily tally soared to 22,479 new cases, eclipsing the previous record set Jan. 7 by almost 5,000 and nearly 8,000 more than a week ago. The country’s infection rate rose to 813 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, up from 558 a week earlier.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the government is considering several options, including following neighbouring Austria in ordering a lockdown for unvaccinated residents. Another measure under review is no longer allowing people to attend public events or go to bars and restaurants based on coronavirus test results.
Slovakia reported 8,342 new virus cases, surpassing the previous record of 7,244 set Friday. The Slovakian government is planning new restrictions on unvaccinated people as the country’s hospitals are getting overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger said his cabinet would vote Thursday on recommendations from an advisory group of medical experts. Among the proposals, which would be instituted for three weeks, are banning unvaccinated individuals from non-essential stores, shopping malls, gyms, pools, hotels and mass public gatherings.
Slovakia’s Health Ministry said that 81 per cent of the country’s 2,879 hospitalized COVID-19 patients have not received a coronavirus vaccine.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia have vaccination rates below the average of the 27 European Union nations.
-From The Associated Press, last updated at 6:50 a.m. ET
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What’s happening around the world
As of early Wednesday morning, more than 254.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.1 million, the database showed.
In Europe, Austrian coronavirus infections hit a new daily record on Wednesday, the third day of a lockdown for those not fully vaccinated aimed at halting the surge.
Roughly 65 per cent of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against the virus, one of the lowest rates in western Europe. Austria also has one of the highest infection rates on the continent, with a seven-day incidence rate of 925 per 100,000 people.
In the Americas, a judicial panel on Tuesday consolidated 34 lawsuits challenging the Biden administration’s workplace COVID-19 vaccine rule in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a venue favoured by opponents of the rule.
In the Middle East, Britain advised against all but essential travel to Lebanon due to ongoing instability, a fresh blow to the country in the middle of a financial and economic meltdown.
In Africa, health officials in Kenya on Tuesday reported 75 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths.
In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea plans to cut to four months from six the gap for booster doses given to senior citizens as it looks to dampen a spike in serious cases, authorities said.
The Philippines has approved the emergency use of a vaccine by Novavax, its food and drug agency chief said, the ninth vaccine approved in the country.
-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 6:45 a.m. ET