Slovakia reports second-highest daily tally of COVID-19 cases

FILE PHOTO: An employee checks the temperature of another employee on arrival to work as PSA Peugeot re-opens after shutting down last month due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Trnava, Slovakia April 17, 2020. REUTERS/

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Slovakia registered its second-highest daily toll of new COVID-19 cases on Friday, the Health Ministry said, as the country battles a second wave of infections.

Eleven people also died from the disease on Friday, the highest number of fatalities reported in a 24-hour period, the ministry said on Saturday. Six more deaths took place on Saturday, bringing the country's death toll to 88.

The country of 5.5 million people came through the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic with one of Europe's lowest infection rates, but the number of cases has jumped this month.

Slovakia has reported 269 cases per 100,000 people over the last 14 days, the ninth-highest rate in Europe, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control data. That is up from 70 at the end of September.

Prime Minister Igor Matovic said on Saturday the government had ordered up to 13 million so-called antigen tests, which produce faster results but are often less accurate than standard PCR tests, and aimed to launch blanket testing in the country.

On Thursday, daily cases topped 2,000 for the first time and totalled 1,968 on Friday, the second-highest tally for a single day.

Local officials have warned that the situation could become similar to that of the neighbouring Czech Republic, where Europe's biggest per capita spike in infections has strained hospital capacity.

Slovakia is avoiding a repeat of the sweeping lockdown imposed earlier this year but has banned indoor restaurant dining, widened mask use rules, shifted high schools to distance learning, limited gatherings, and shut various public venues.

(Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Helen Popper)

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