Daily news summary

Czech government orders borders closed

The Czech government has declared an unprecedented ban on travel in connection with the coronavirus epidemic.

Czechs and foreign nationals with permanent or long-term residence (90 days) in the Czech Republic will not be allowed to leave the country. Foreigners will not be able to enter the country for the duration of the 30-day state of emergency declared on March 12th.

The ban will not effect cross-border workers, truck and bus drivers, pilots and emergency services employees.

The ban will come into force oat midnight on Sunday.

Czechs abroad will be allowed to return home but those returning from "high-risk" countries will be quarantined for 14 days.

According to the country’s mobile operators there are currently 205,000 Czechs abroad out of which 196,000 are in Europe.

The “high risk” states are: China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Denmark and France.

Number of coronavirus cases at 141, number of quarantined 4,800

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Czech Republic has now reached 141, with over 4,800 people quarantined. Cases have now been recorded in all regions of the country. Prague has the highest number, with 50 cases.

Two patients are in serious condition, one is on life support. 2353 people have been tested for the virus to date.

The authorities are expanding the list of clinics where people can get tested.

Intentional spreading of virus classified as crime

Intentional spreading of the coronavirus has been classified as a criminal offense punishable by law.

Justice Minister Marie Benešová issued an edict placing COVID 19 on the list of infectious diseases which present a serious public health threat. The new classification has been approved by the government.

The move is to put off people who are in quarantine from going out and putting others at risk. Over 1,200 people have been quarantined to date. Their numbers are expected to grow.

PM urges Czechs to stop panic buying

The Czech prime minister has urged the public to remain calm and stop panic buying in the face of the coronavirus threat.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš made the appeal on Twitter following a meeting on Thursday with representatives of the country’s biggest retail stores who assured him they would not run out of stock.

Shoppers took supermarkets by storm after the government declared a state of emergency on Thursday, buying vast amounts of non-perishable food products.

V4 and German foreign ministers to hold video-conference

The foreign ministers of the Visegrad Group states (the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary) and Germany will hold a video-conference on the coronavirus epidemic, the situation on the Greek-Turkish border and EU related issues on Friday.

Their meeting in Prague was cancelled due to the coronavirus health threat.

The prime ministers of the V4 states recently met in Prague to discuss measures to prevent the spread of the epidemic including special regimes on their borders and possible humanitarian aid in the event of a worsening crisis.

Legend of Czech athletics Dana Zátopková dies at 97

The great Czech athlete Dana Zátopková has died in Prague at the age of 97, a representative of the Dukla sports club told iRozhlas.cz on Friday. Zátopková won gold in the javelin for Czechoslovakia at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki and also took silver at the 1960 Olympics in Rome.

She became European javelin champion in 1954 and 1958 and set a new world record at the age of 35, making her the oldest women to break one at an outdoor athletics event.

Dana Zátopková was the widow of the famous runner Emil Zátopek, who himself won three golds at Helsinki.

Weather forecast

Saturday should bring partly cloudy skies with scattered showers and day temperatures between 5 and 9 degrees Celsius.