Daily news summary
Coronavirus: Czech PM praises solidarity in time of crisis, admits govt missteps
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) praised the nation in a televised speech on Monday evening for showing solidarity in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, which he called a crisis “no country in Europe was prepared for”.
Mr Babiš thanked people on the frontlines – healthcare workers, police officers, firefighters and soldiers – for their tireless work, and praised volunteers who helped others for example by sewing face masks at home to offset shortages.
He further praised all who have adhered to the emergency restrictive measures put in place to contain the spread of Covid-19 and asked for their further patience in the weeks ahead.
Opposition politicians by and large welcomed the tone of Mr Babiš’s speech, in which he showed empathy and also expressed humility in acknowledging missteps by his government.
Coronavirus: Czech in critical state receiving experimental Ebola drug Remdesivir
A Czech patient with Covid-19 in critical condition is being treated with Remdesivir, a drug originally developed by the US-based company Gilead Sciences to fight the Ebola virus.
A shipment of Remdesivir arrived from the US on Tuesday upon the request of Czech authorities. The Ministry of Health has approved its use on a case-by-case basis for a period of six months.
Remdesivir has shown some success in treating two viruses similar to the novel coronavirus, MERS and SARS, in animals.
The Czech patient now receiving the experimental drug, a Prague taxi driver, was admitted to the General University Hospital in critical condition and has been on ventilation for many days now.
Czech cancer patient in mid-40s infected with Covid-19 dies
A Czech man in his mid-forties infected with the novel coronavirus and battling cancer has died at hospital in Havířov, Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch announced via Twitter.
The patient, born in 1975 died due to widespread organ failure stemming from advanced cancer, Vojtěch said. The coronavirus worsened his condition.
As of Tuesday morning, the Ministry of Health recorded 1,289 case of coronavirus. The number is expected to reach 3,000 by the end of March and 15,000 by the end of April.
The first Czech with coronavirus to die was a 95-year-old man from Prague, who also had existing health conditions.
Prague to debate further relief measures for small business tenants
Prague City Council is set to debate measures on Tuesday to help small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. These include proposals to forgive rent in city-owned properties and financial support of up to CZK 45,000.
Last week Prague councilors decided not to charge tenants interest fees on late payments for the duration of emergency measures to contain the spread of Covid-19. Those include closing restaurants, bistros, cafés and bars, and the restriction of movement.
On Monday, the Czech government decided to extend these measures until at least April 1 and unanimously approved suspending electronic sales records (EET) until three months after the emergency ends. This means taxpayers will not have to record sales.
Czech PM: fast-track bill aims to untie central bank’s hands in bond market
The government aims to fast-track legislation to untie the Czech central bank’s hands to be active in the bond market. But Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) told MPs on Tuesday that does not mean any immediate purchases.
The Finance Ministry said in a document accompanying the bill that the government was just fast-tracking, as part of its response to the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported.
The amendment widening the central bank’s powers to buy securities on the market does not alter a ban on monetary financing nor allow the central bank to enter the primary government debt market.
The Finance Ministry plans to issue government bonds worth 33 billion crowns in April. As of December, it had planned to issue medium- and long-term bonds worth at least 120 billion crowns on the domestic market in 2020.
Škoda Auto starts 3D printing of high-grade respirators using ČTU model
Škoda Auto, in cooperation with the Czech Technical University (ČTU), has started producing high-grade respirators using industrial 3D printers. The carmaker said via Twitter it is now producing 60 pieces a day.
The respirators were developed by a team of researchers at the ČTU’S Institute of Computer Science, Robotics and Cybernetics (CIIRC).
They are reusable, save filter material and as effective as the highest standard respirators now available on the Czech market (FFP3).
Sunny skies are in the forecast for Wednesday, with daytime highs expected to range from 2 to 6 degrees Celsius. The remainder of the week should be overcast but warmer.