Daily news summary

MPs urge Office of the President to help explain suspicions around Senator Kubera’s death

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the lower house has criticized the Office of the President for failing to explain its role in the pressure to which the late speaker of the Senate Jaroslav Kubera was subjected in connection with his planned trip to Taiwan.

Mr. Kubera’s wife has indicated that the enormous pressure he was under, as well as veiled threats believed to have been made by Chinese representatives, led to his early demise due to what is believed to have been a massive heart attack.

The Office of the President reportedly handed over to Mr. Kubera a letter from the Chinese ambassador shortly before his death. President Zeman likewise attempted to dissuade Mr. Kubera from making the trip.

NATO’s chief medical adviser: Europe must end its reliance on Asia for protective gear

Zoltán Bubeník, Surgeon General and chief medical adviser to the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance, says the countries where the coronavirus epidemic is on the wane must remain vigilant and stock up on protective gear in readiness for a possible second wave.

In an interview for the news site Novinky.cz General Bubeník said Europe’s reliance on factories in Asia for protective gear had been a big mistake, which must be corrected.

He also highlighted the importance of vaccine programs, saying that with all likelihood the blanket vaccination against tuberculosis in the Czech Republic had helped protect the public against an uncontrolled spread of the infection.

Parents who do not send their children to school will lose nursing care money

The parents of children in kindergartens and first level elementary schools which are due to re-open on May 25, have been asked to decide whether they will send their children back to school. Those who decide not to do so will lose the nursing care money being paid out by the state.

In April this amounted to 60 percent of the parent’s salary, as of May 1 it was increased to 80 percent. The only exceptions are for children at risk because of chronic illnesses, children in quarantine or those living in one household with grandparents who are a high risk group.

The Health Ministry is to publish the details in the coming days.

Number of coronavirus cases expected to reach 8,500 by end of May

The Czech Republic is likely to have 8,500 COVID 19 positive cases at the end of May, according to a prediction model unveiled by the Institute for Health Information and Statistics on Thursday morning.

The model envisages an annual daily increase of around 15 persons in the course of the month.

Since March 1 the Czech Republic has registered 7, 581 confirmed coronavirus cases. 3,120 people have recovered from the disease, 227 people have died. Altogether over 242,000 people have been tested.

First anti-government protest since the coronavirus outbreak

The first anti-government protest held since the coronavirus epidemic broke out, took place in Prague on Wednesday evening.

Although public events and gatherings are banned the anti-government protest movement Million Moments for Democracy organized the protest in the form of “a walk” from Letná Plain to Kramářova Vila, the official residence of the prime minister.

Hundreds of protesters, wearing facemasks and walking two metres apart, held up banners protesting against the way the government was handling the crisis and communicating with the public.

Several dozen people also gathered for a protest in the Moravian metropolis of Brno.

Eight to be tried in Prague for expressing support for terrorist attacks

Eight people are to be tried for expressing support for terrorist attacks in New Zealand, Norway and Afghanistan, a Prague police spokesman said on Wednesday. If convicted, they face up to 15 years in prison.

According to previous information, 12 people in the Czech Republic were being investigated on suspicion of publicly approving of a terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that left 51 people dead.

Several others were under investigation for expressing approval of the attack by Anders Breivik in Norway in 2011 or the bombing which led to the death of three Czech soldiers in Afghanistan in August 2018. Hearings on these cases should start in May.

Czech firefighters to allow Čarodejnice ‘witch-burnings’

Firefighters will not ban the traditional Čarodějnice witch-burning ceremonies on April 30, Interior Minister Jan Hamáček told reporters, as recent rains have reduced the risk of bonfires spreading accidentally.

The burning of rag-and-straw witches on Čarodějnice ceremonially marks that winter has come to an end. The tradition developed from an ancient pagan belief that witches were especially active on the night of April 30.

In modern times, Czechs gather on Čarodějnice chance to eat, drink and be merry around a roaring bonfire. Many dress up as witches and warlocks, or in other fanciful costumes. Social-distancing measures in place due to the coronavirus pandemic will limit such gatherings to ten people.

During the festival period, there is an increase in unintentional fires every year. Last April 30, firefighters were called to extinguish 64 fires, and the year before to 136.

Weather forecast

Friday should be partly cloudy to overcast with rain around the country and day temperatures between 13 and 17 degrees Celsius.