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Coronavirus: Czech army sets up 500-bed field hospital in anticipation of COVID-19 surge

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Czech Army soldiers prepare equipment in a field hospital in the Letnany neighbourhood in the outskirts of Prague, Czech Republic. Oct. 22, 2020.
Czech Army soldiers prepare equipment in a field hospital in the Letnany neighbourhood in the outskirts of Prague, Czech Republic. Oct. 22, 2020.   -   Copyright  AP Photo via CTK/Roman Vondrous
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Fearing its health system could be overwhelmed, the Czech Republic has erected its first army field hospital in Prague.

The country tallied over 15,250 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, its highest ever daily increase. It also recorded 126 deaths overnight, bringing its toll to 1,971.

The hospital has been designed to treat less acute COVID cases so other hospitals can focus on treating the most severely ill.

The country's main hospitals have cancelled most planned and routine surgery to focus on coronavirus patients.

The field hospital, in the northern Prague district of Letňany, was anticipating accepting patients from Sunday.

"When most of the hospitals in Prague lose their capacity and can't receive new patients, then the treated and stable patients will be sent here, to the temporary branch of Na Bulovce Hospital, so that the life-saving teams can bring the acute patients to the hospitals again," Jan Kvacek, the director of Na Bulovce Hospital, told Euronews.

Doctors and medical staff predict that the Czech Republic will hit a crisis point at the beginning of November and that is when the field hospital will be needed the most.

It has ten intensive care beds equipped with mechanical ventilation for cases where patients' conditions worsen quickly.

The main section of the hospital has ten separate sections, each with 50 beds. They also have laboratories, X-ray capacity, and CAT scanners, as well as decontamination units for the medical staff.

The government has admitted making mistakes in its handling of the coronavirus over the summer and it's now employing Czech citizens to follow COIVD-19 prevention measures.

In a desperate attempt to turn things around, health minister Roman Prymula had announced tight restrictions to combat the virus on Wednesday, closing bars, restaurants, and schools while limiting public gatherings to two people.

But he came under fire after he was photographed leaving a restaurant in Prague on Wednesday, just hours after announcing the new measures.

In an interview with Czech weekly Respekt, the health minister said he was invited to participate in a meeting with a hospital director and only went through the restaurant to a private space but Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has said he will dismiss Prymula if he doesn't resign.