The Czech Republic, once considered a model for how to contain the novel coronavirus, reported a record 4,457 new cases in a single day, Health Ministry data showed on Wednesday, as a spike in infections over the past month is now rising at Europe's fastest pace.
The daily rise in new COVID-19 cases, recorded on Tuesday, surpassed a previous record of 3,794 to bring the total number of cases recorded since March to 90,022 - a fourfold increase since Aug. 25.
Hospitalisations have soared tenfold in that period to add strain on the healthcare system.
Over the past two weeks, the Czech Republic has reported 326.8 cases per 100,000, surpassing for the first time Spain, which has seen 302.4 cases per 100,000, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) data collected by Oct. 6.
The Czech government, like others in Europe, is struggling to contain a rise in infections that is stronger than in March and April.
But the country is looking to avoid the same strict lockdowns that shut shops, restaurants and schools and prompted many factories to go idle, hammering the economy in the second quarter.
Health Minister Roman Prymula said that a tightening of existing measures will be announced on Friday, focusing on past-time activities.
"Let's assume that just about everything will be tighter for the next 14 days," he said.
The state has introduced stricter face mask rules and limited bar opening hours and the number of people to a table in restaurants. It has also banned musical performances since Monday for two weeks.
The government wants to avoid putting too much strain on its hospitals and has said enough beds are still available but further increases in infections could require the reorganisation of care and the postponing of non-urgent procedures.
The number of people hospitalised with COVID-19 has climbed to 1,387, of which 326 are in intensive care - more than three times the peak seen when the outbreak first hit.