Lockdown tightened in nation with world’s worst Covid death rate

Will Taylor

Slovakia will tighten its coronavirus restrictions as it struggles with the world's worst Covid-19 death rate and a resurgent virus.

Experts have ranked it among the worst hit by the new wave of cases, with its government blaming the faster-spreading UK variant.

Stricter limits on people's movements, a mandate for people in shops and buses to wear more effective respirators and changes to schooling will be introduced.

The country has a rolling seven-day average of 18.76 coronavirus deaths per million, according to Our World in Data – ahead of the neighbouring Czech Republic with 15.53. The UK's has fallen to 4.63.

Slovakia as a population of 5.5 million and by Sunday has reported 308,083 Covid infection cases and 7,189 deaths.

Statistics show how badly Slovakia has been affected. (Our World in Data)
Statistics show how badly Slovakia has been affected. (Our World in Data)

Reuters reports that travel between 8pm and 1am can only be undertaken for work or to see a doctor, while existing reasons to move around will only be permitted between 5am and 8pm.

From 8 March, more effective respirators of FFP 2 grade will be needed for people in shops or on public transport, while pre-school and younger age groups in primary education will only be open to children of workers who can't do their jobs from home.

Prime minister Igor Matovic's government could introduce further restrictions from 21 March if new cases aren't brought down by then, with local media reporting that the border and businesses could be shut.

It follows a tough lockdown that was brought in before Christmas, which included a round-the-clock curfew.

That came despite the whole population getting tested in October, a move which won praise and was considered to have helped bring down infections.

Slovakia fared relatively well between the start of the pandemic and August last year, but blame for the virus's recent spread has been aimed at the variant first identified in the UK.

In a single day earlier in February, AP reported that 74% of cases were that variant.

Watch: How England will leave lockdown