Daily news summary
PM rejects criticism over coronavirus crisis management
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš on Tuesday rejected criticism from the opposition and media over his government’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic. Mr. Babis said his administration was doing its utmost in very difficult circumstances, since it faced a global shortage of masks and respirators.
The prime minister said he was sorry he could not do more for health workers and the public in this respect adding that everything possible was being done to acquire protective gear from China and other countries as fast as possible. He pointed to the fact that there had only been 10,000 respirators in the country’s state material reserves.
Five opposition parties have called on the government to be more open about the state of the coronavirus epidemic in the Czech Republic, the available supplies of protective gear and possible crisis scenarios which may develop. According to Czech Radio the Czech Republic is 42nd on the Global Health Security Index which reflects individual countries’ preparedness to deal with a pandemic. In Europe, the country placed behind Poland, Hungary and Albania.
Number of coronavirus cases 434, three patients in grave condition
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic reached 434 on Tuesday evening.
Three patients are in “very serious to critical condition” according to the Health Ministry. Half of the positive patients were infected abroad, the others in the Czech Republic.
Over 6,300 tests have been conducted to date. Three people have fully recovered from COVID-19.
The government on Tuesday banned the re-export of medicines imported to the Czech Republic, so as to offset a possible shortage on the home market.
Tripartite agrees on coronavirus crisis compensation
Government officials, employers and trade unions on Tuesday agreed to extend the period over which parents can take leave of absence from work to care for their children for the duration of the coronavirus epidemic which has closed schools around the country.
Under Czech law parents are allowed nine days leave to care for sick children under the age of 10 and receive 60 percent of their salary, for single parents it is 16 days. The period of leave is to be extended for the duration of the crisis.
The tripartite also agreed on compensation for employees who were forced to close their shops, restaurants or other facilities and services under the government measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Government-imposed restrictions to cost 2 billion crowns a day
The restrictions introduced by the government to fight the coronavirus epidemic will result in losses estimated at around two billion crowns a day, the ctk news agency reports, citing economic experts.
The hardest hit will be retailers, with the exception of food stores, aviation and transport companies, restaurants and accommodation providers.
Economists say there is no immediate threat of big lay-offs, and the Czech Republic further has the advantage of having the lowest unemployment rate in the EU.
Czech tourism head: Impact of coronavirus pandemic will be staggering
The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic will be staggering, according to the head of CzechTourism Jan Herget. In an interview for the ctk news agency Mr.Herget said that entrepreneurs in the tourist industry are no longer thinking about how to minimize the damage, but how to survive.
Prague, which attracts two thirds of the country’s foreign tourist will be hardest hit, but Western and South Bohemia as well as South Moravia also expect significant losses.
The long-term outlooks are totally unpredictable, Herget noted, adding that when the worst is over domestic tourists could help revitalize the industry.
Violin virtuoso Šporcl boosts nation’s spirits with online concerts
Czech violin virtuoso Pavel Šporcl is boosting the morale of the public with a series of online concerts from his living room.
After his planned concerts were cancelled due to a ban on all cultural and other public events involving more than 30 people, Šporcl decided to offer his public the planned repertoire online in a series of 45-minute-long concerts from his living room.
Close to 2,000 music fans streamed the first one on Friday, March 13th. The next one is scheduled for March 18th. Šporcl urged his fans to keep their spirits up, dress in their best, pour themselves a glass of wine and enjoy his music.
He said he received hundreds of thank-you messages and photographs of fans enjoying the concert in their sitting rooms.
Wednesday should be clear to partly cloudy with day temperatures between 12 and 16 degrees Celsius.