PRAGUE - Cases of the new coronavirus in the Czech Republic have surpassed 16,000 as a recent spike in infections continues, Health Ministry data showed on Thursday. The central European country of 10.7 million has faced a rise in cases in July in several hot spots, including in an eastern mining region and more recently in the capital Prague, which reported a daily record of 101 cases on Tuesday. With the uptick in cases outpacing neighbours, government and health officials have sought to boost the country's "smart quarantine" programme to track and trace contacts of infected people. On Thursday, the Health Ministry also unveiled plans to ramp up testing capacity, which Health Minister Adam Vojtech said was currently at around 17,000 daily. The country carried out 7,413 tests on Tuesday, the most since mid-May. The ministry recorded 278 cases nationwide on Wednesday, the second highest daily rise in July. The seven-day average reached 216, the highest since April 10. In total, the country has seen 16,093 cases since the outbreak started in March, with 11,429 recoveries so far and 374 deaths from the COVID-19 illness. Since lifting a strict nationwide lockdown imposed in March, the authorities have pledged to avoid future countrywide measures and instead aimed to tackle outbreaks locally. Despite the growth in daily cases, the number of those hospitalised was 120, well off April peaks above 400. REUTERS
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