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Czech politicians put aside difference to back booster plan

November 30, 2021 GMT
A general view of a Christmas market in Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Due to the high rise in COVID-19 infections, Czech government banned Christmas markets in the whole country as of the evening of Friday Nov. 26, 2021. (Roman Vondrous/CTK via AP)
A general view of a Christmas market in Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Due to the high rise in COVID-19 infections, Czech government banned Christmas markets in the whole country as of the evening of Friday Nov. 26, 2021. (Roman Vondrous/CTK via AP)
A general view of a Christmas market in Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Due to the high rise in COVID-19 infections, Czech government banned Christmas markets in the whole country as of the evening of Friday Nov. 26, 2021. (Roman Vondrous/CTK via AP)

PRAGUE (AP) — The Czech Republic’s outgoing and incoming prime ministers put aside their differences on Tuesday to support an initiative to administer 1 million COVID-19 booster shots in a week.

Outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Petr Fiala, the prime minister-designate, voiced their support for the plan announced by the “Doctors help the Czech Republic” group that aims to provide relief struggling hospitals.

“The pandemic doesn’t know any political barriers,” Babis said about the unusual partnership.

“There are moments when we need to show our common will,” Fiala said.

The country has been facing a record surge of coronavirus infections. The new daily increase hit an all-time high of almost 28,000 cases on Thursday. The infection rate was 1,230 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days on Monday, currently making it one of the hardest-hit countries.

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A number of COVID-19 patients needing intensive care surpassed 1,000 on Monday for the first time since April 14, with the overall number of hospitalized at 6,394 on Monday. About 30% of them have received two shots of a vaccine, while authorities hope the booster shot makes a difference.

The initiative has called on their colleagues from outpatient clinics to help speed up the vaccination effort while new vaccination centers are opening across the country to meet recent rising demand.

Near 6.4 million people have been fully vaccinated in the Czech Republic. More than 826,000 received a booster shot. Overall, almost 2.2 million tested positive for the coronavirus in the nation of 10.7 million, with 33,069 deaths.

Fiala was sworn in on Sunday to lead a 18-member government of five parties that won a majority in October’s parliamentary election.

Babis, the populist billionaire, formally resigned after his centrist ANO (YES) movement lost the election, but he remains in power until the entire new government is appointed. That is not expected to happen before the middle of December.

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Follow all AP stories on the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic