Czechs ban travel to Russia, Tunisia due to coronavirus variants

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PRAGUE (Reuters) -The Czech Health Ministry has banned Czechs from travelling to Russia, Tunisia and other countries due to the spread of COVID-19 variants there, the ministry said on Tuesday.

The Czech Republic on Monday recorded a week-on-week rise in new cases to 157 from 118 a week ago, a sign of a potential turn in the declining trend that has been in place since the latest wave of infections peaked in March.

The travel ban will take effect on Thursday for Russia and next week for Tunisia. Both countries have recorded surges in new cases in recent days.

The ministry added Russia, Tunisia, Paraguay and Namibia to a dozen others including India and Brazil where non-essential travel has already been banned. Tunisia is a popular tourist destination for Czechs.

The government has called a special session for Thursday to discuss a response to the spread of the Delta variant, first identified in India.

The Czech Republic has so far identified 120 cases of the Delta variant, believed to be more transmissible than previous variants, the country's National Institute of Public Health said.

The country of 10.7 million was one of the worst hit in Europe, suffering four waves of infections and 30,298 deaths.

It has fully vaccinated over 3.1 million people and had used just over 8 million vaccine doses as of Monday.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka, Editing by William Maclean)

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