The Czech Republic has asked Germany, Switzerland and Poland to take in dozens of COVID-19 patients as the situation in its own hospitals has reached a critical point, Prague’s Health Ministry said.
The country of 10.7 million has been one of the hardest hit globally in recent weeks as many regional hospitals, overwhelmed by the inflow of coronavirus patients, had to transfer them elsewhere, in some cases taking them hundreds of kilometres away.
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“The large number of newly infected patients has intensified pressure on the healthcare system, and the number of patients requiring hospitalisation is growing,” the ministry said on Friday.
As of Friday morning, there were 8,153 COVID patients hospitalised, including 1,735 requiring intensive care, Health Ministry data showed.
“In some regions, the hospitals have exhausted their capacity and they are no longer able to provide appropriate care or to accept new patients without help from others,” Health Minister Jan Blatny said.
Across the country, 13 percent of the overall intensive care capacity was available, while in the capital Prague, the free capacity was at 5 percent.
The Czech Republic currently has the highest rate of new infections in the European Union. More than 800 people per 100,000 inhabitants were infected with the coronavirus within the past seven days.
Neighbouring Slovakia transferred its first coronavirus patients abroad this week as its hospitals filled with patients.
Meanwhile, the government introduced a quarantine bonus payment as part of its fight against the coronavirus.
President Milos Zeman signed a law on Friday stipulating that employees receive the equivalent of up to 14 euros a day ($16.70) if they are in a quarantine officially ordered by authorities.
The payment will be made in addition to the continued payment of wages in the event of illness, amounting to 60 percent of earnings.
According to the government, many infected people have not disclosed the names of people they were in contact with out of concern that they would cause financial disadvantages to friends and relatives.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been almost 1.3 million infections and 21,325 coronavirus-related deaths in the country.
The more transmissible coronavirus variant first found in the United Kingdom is gradually spreading across the country and becoming the dominant form of the virus.