Czechs to build field hospitals as COVID-19 cases soar

The Czech Republic will start building capacity for COVID-19 patients outside of hospitals, government officials said on Thursday, as the daily rise in new coronavirus cases hits fresh records.

Interior Minister Jan Hamacek told CTK news agency the army would start building an area for 500 hospital beds at a fairground in Prague from Saturday.

The country of 10.7 million has Europe’s fastest rate of infections as cases have nearly doubled in October alone, to 139,290. The Health Ministry reported 9,544 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, its highest one-day tally so far.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis told reporters it was necessary to start building extra capacity.

“We don’t have time, the outlook is not good. These numbers are catastrophic,” Babis said.

The number of hospitalisations has risen 161% in October to 2,678, with 518 patientes in intensive care. Deaths have climbed to 1,172, up 75% this month.

The fast rise in cases has put strain on hospitals, which are converting general wards into COVID-19 units and cancelling non-urgent procedures to cope. The number hospitalised is six times the peak seen during the first wave of the virus.