Coronavirus: central Europe faces worse second wave after avoiding worst of first

Coronavirus: central Europe faces worse second wave after avoiding worst of first

  • Restrictions return as Czech Republic records more than 1,000 daily cases for first time

The countries of central Europe, having come out of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in much better shape than most of their western European counterparts, are now facing higher numbers than during the spring peak of Covid-19, as restrictions return to the region.

On Tuesday, the Czech Republic passed the milestone of more than 1,000 Covid-19 cases in a day for the first time, while Hungary has closed its borders for September to counter rapidly rising daily infection rates. Cases rose in Poland in August too, though numbers have since dropped.

The rise in the Czech Republic is a sharp setback for a country previously hailed as among Europe’s most successful in tackling the pandemic, prompting the authorities to intensify face-mask requirements.

A record 1,164 new infections were documented in the nation of 10.7 million on Tuesday, and over the past 14 days, the country has seen one of the highest infection rates in Europe when adjusted for population, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Czech officials have attributed the rise to a sharp increase in testing. They also insist most of the new cases are mild and among otherwise healthy young people. Some 168 cases were traced to a party at a Prague nightclub in July.

The prime minister, Andrej Babiš, told the World Health Organization to “keep quiet” after it voiced concern over reports that Czech officials planned to reduce contact tracing and testing because many of the new cases were asymptomatic.