Daily news summary
Prymula: Coronavirus cases could reach 15,000 by mid-April if measures not taken
The head of the country’s Central Crisis Staff, Roman Prymula, says the number of coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic could reach 15,000 by mid-April, when incidence should reach a peak. Mr. Prymula said that would be a realistic scenario. However, measures taken by the government should make the numbers significantly lower, he added.
The official said that the Czech health care system had a capacity of around 800 patients in intensive care, meaning requiring ventilators. That figure could be increased to 1,500 by drawing on reserves, he said. Beyond that there would be serious problems.
As of Friday morning there were 765 registered cases of Covid-19 in the Czech Republic. A number of people are in a serious condition but as yet no deaths have been reported.
Zeman calls on Czechs to neither make light of coronavirus nor succumb to fear
President Miloš Zeman has called on Czech citizens to be brave in the face of the coronavirus crisis. In an address broadcast on Thursday evening, his first such appearance since the initial cases of infection were reported in the Czech Republic at the start of the month, the head of state said people should neither treat the virus lightly nor succumb to fear.
Mr. Zeman also thanked China for the supply of medical materials and called on the opposition to support government measures while the state of emergency continues.
The speech was broadcast only on commercial channel Prima. The president’s team refused to allow it to be shown simultaneously on public broadcaster Czech Television, as happens with his Christmas addresses.
Czech patient in critical condition to be given Remdesivir
The US authorities have approved a Czech request for a patient in critical condition in Prague to be treated with the experimental drug Remdesivir made by Gilead Sciences. The drug is now said to be on its way to the Czech Republic.
The patient is suffering from COVID 19 and has been on ventilation for some time. He has been in critical condition for several days now.
The Czech Health Ministry has approved the use of the experimental drug on a case-by-case basis for a period of six months.
Czech Republic getting regular deliveries of medical supplies from China
The Czech Republic should get regular deliveries of medical supplies from China over the next six weeks to help tide over its needs in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic, Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček said on Friday.
A plane carrying 1.1 million respirators arrived in the country on Friday morning and two more planeloads are due to arrive on Saturday.
The first deliveries are already being distributed to the regions which are desperately short of respirators and facemasks.
Confidence in economy slides in face of pandemic
Confidence in the Czech economy dropped by 3.2 points to 93.1 in March, according to data released by the Czech Statistics Office on Friday.
It is the steepest month-on-month decrease registered since November 2011.
The Czech Statistics Office says the drop, registered both among entrepreneurs and consumers, is the first sign of growing fears regarding the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Czech shops now open to seniors only from 7 to 9 am
Shops in the Czech Republic are now only serving people aged 65 or over from 7 to 9 am every day. When the measure aimed at protecting seniors from the coronavirus was introduced on Thursday it was for from 10 am to noon. Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said old people were more used to shopping early in the morning.
The same hours apply for toiletries stores (drogeries) and pharmacies.
Tomáš Prouza, the head of the Czech Confederation of Commerce and Tourism, told Novinky.cz that the 10 am start had led to a situation where many seniors had arrived at shops at the same time.
General Karel Řehka to head National Office for Cyber and Information Security
The government has approved the appointment of General Karel Řehka head of the National Office for Cyber and Information Security (NÚKIB), Denik N reported.
General Řehka,45, participated in foreign military missions, he has worked for the special forces, the Czech Ministry of Defence and NATO.
He will replace Dušan Navrátil, who was dismissed by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš late last year over poor managerial and communication skills.
Czech hockey legend Vladimir Zábrodský dies at 97
Czech hockey legend Vladimír Zábrodský has died at the age of 97, the Czech Hockey Union said on Friday. Mr. Zábrodsky died in his home in Sweden, where he emigrated in 1965.
The two-time world champion (1947, 1949) and silver medal winner at the 1948 Winter Olympics was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in 1997.
He played in the Czechoslovak First Ice Hockey League for LTC Praha from 1940 to 1950, Spartak ČKD Sokolovo from 1950 to 1960, and Bohemians ČKD Praha from 1963 to 1965, collecting 306 goals.
The start of the weekend should bring overcast skies with rain or snow showers in higher altitudes and day temperatures between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius.