Hard-hit Czech Republic reaches 1 million confirmed cases

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FILE - In this file photo dated Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, healthcare workers move a COVID-19 patient to the Motol hospital in Prague, Czech Republic. The hospital in Prague has admitted five patients in serious condition from other hospitals that were overrun due to the coronavirus pandemic. Reaching a milestone of one million confirmed cases, the battle against the pandemic is far from over in the Czech Republic. Amid warnings by experts against new contagious virus variants, one of the hardest hit European countries has been trying to avoid the mistakes of the past when soaring infections almost caused the collapse of the struggling health system. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, FILE)

PRAGUE – The Czech Republic has reached 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases, health authorities said Wednesday.

The battle against the pandemic is far from over in the hard-hit European Union country, which hopes to learn from previous mistakes that repeatedly allowed soaring infections to almost bring down the struggling health system.

The Czech Republic is by far the smallest of the 21 countries to surpass the milestone, with the U.S. leading the global table with more than 26 million confirmed cases.

“I’d like to say our approach has not been successful,” said Jan Trnka, a biochemist from Prague’s Charles University.

Trnka said the government — with three different health ministers in charge since the pandemic struck — has lacked a clear vison about what it wants to achieve and its measures have been met with a growing distrust from citizens.

Things might take a turn for the worse with the fast-spreading British variant of the virus.

“We’ll likely have more people infected. We’ll have more people in hospitals and more people will die,” Trnka said.

Vaccinations might help, but around 50% of Czechs says they don't want to get inoculated because of safety fears and disinformation, according to polls.