Czech PM eyes quarantine amid coronavirus crisis

Czech Prime Minister eyes nationwide quarantine, expects rise in coronavirus cases

Babis, who said there could be around 300 confirmed cases by Sunday night from 189 the previous evening, underlined it was important for people to only travel between work and home. Reuters file photo

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Sunday the government would likely declare a quarantine for the entire country to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

The cabinet was expected to meet on Sunday afternoon with a news conference expected at around 6 p.m. (1700 GMT).

"I am convinced that today the government, and I will be proposing it, will take this measure," he said in an interview on Prima television.

Babis, who said there could be around 300 confirmed cases by Sunday night from 189 the previous evening, underlined it was important for people to only travel between work and home. Public transport would not be halted, he said.

The country of 10.7 million has not reported any deaths from the virus so far.

The government has been criticised by doctors and hospitals who have reported shortages of protective masks and respirators. The health minister said on Saturday the country lacked about a million respirators and the government was trying to secure supplies.

On social networks and in the media, people with symptoms have complained of being turned down when requesting tests. The government has said it was accelerating testing, reporting 971 tests on Saturday to bring the total to 4,065.

The expected quarantine comes a day after the government closed most shops and restaurants for at least 10 days.

Other restrictions announced in recent days included a ban on nearly all international travel from March 16, closing schools and banning public events such as sports games and concerts.

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