Czech Republic's coronavirus cases surpass 1 million

A medical staff member wearing a protective suit takes a swab from a woman at a night drive-in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) sampling station in Prague, Czech Republic, February 1, 2021. REUTERS/David W Cerny

PRAGUE (Reuters) – Nearly one in 10 people in the Czech Republic have been infected by the coronavirus, data showed on Wednesday, as the total number of cases surpassed 1 million in one of the countries worst-hit by the pandemic.

The country of 10.7 million has struggled to contain a second and now third wave of infections that started in September.

In Europe, only Portugal and Spain had higher per-capita infections in the past 14 days, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The Czech death rate is also among the highest in Europe.

Deaths from COVID-19 in the Czech Republic reached 16,683 as of Tuesday, doubling since the end of November. The death toll has grown 39-fold since the start of September.

Hospitals have been strained by the surge in cases that began after the summer holidays, with a shortage of healthcare workers and the number of patients needing care hovering around 6,000 since falling from peaks of over 7,000 in mid-January.

The government aims to cut the number of hospitalised patients to around 3,000 before loosening lockdown restrictions.

The country recorded 9,057 new cases on Tuesday, a touch below a week earlier, while the seven-day average has risen to 6,770.

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