Daily news summary
Coronavirus: Czech schools close, large events banned
The National Security Council has decided to close all primary and secondary schools as of Wednesday to try to contain the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš announced. A ban on public events with over 100 people attending goes into effect on Tuesday evening. Universities have also cancelled classes.
Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch said it is necessary to be take active, exceptional measures at the start of an epidemic. Kindergartens and pre-school will remain open, he said, because young children are far less likely to contract the new coronavirus, and such closure would greatly impact their parents.
Forty people in the Czech Republic have been infected with the new coronavirus, Vojtěch announced earlier. Almost all cases can be traced to the outbreak in Northern Italy. However, among those infected is a Prague taxi driver, who may be a source of community-borne infection.
Coronavirus: Prague Uber driver, Japanese national among confirmed cases
Among the 64 confirmed cases of coronarivus is a Prague Uber driver, who and had at least 90 clients in the two days before being diagnosed and may be a source of community-borne infection.
Epidemiologist Roman Prymula told Czech Television it was serious development. Another case is a Japanese national working in Olomouc, northern Moravia, who had travelled to Germany and the United Kingdom in recent days.
The National Security Council on Tuesday announced the closure of primary and secondary schools, as well as the cancellation of events bringing more than 100 people together. Many Czech universities have also cancelled lessons, including the technical and economic universities in Prague.
Coronavirus: Czech castles, heritage sites closing, season openings postponed
The National Institute for the Preservation of Monuments (NPÚ) has closed all year-round heritage sites until further notice and postponed the opening dates for seasonal sites indefinitely, ČTK reports.
Objects open year-round include castles in Třeboň, Mníšek pod Brdy, Nové Hrady, Hluboká nad Vltavou and Karlštejn. Last year, more than 5 million people visited state monuments and heritage sites.
Czech PM: China’s ambassador should be recalled over threatening letter
China should replace its ambassador to Prague due to a threatening letter sent to Czech authorities, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has said, a position which may further strain bilateral relations.
The Chinese Embassy in Prague had threatened in a letter dated 10 January to retaliate against leading Czech companies if a prominent senator, who has since died, went ahead as planned to visit Taiwan.
The letter, written in Czech and sent to President Miloš Zeman’s office, suggested that the businesses of carmaker Škoda Auto, PPF’s consumer lending arm Home Credit Group, and instrument maker Petrof Pianos would all suffer.
The issue is due to be discussed on 11 March at a regular meeting on foreign policy between the Czech president, prime minister, foreign minister and the speakers of both houses of Parliament.
Czech public offices, towns to fly Tibet flag to mark 1959 uprising
Hundreds of Czech public offices, including Prague City Hall, plan to raise the flag of Tibet on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the territory’s uprising against Chinese occupation in 1959.
The “Flag for Tibet” campaign aims to highlight long-term human rights violations in the autonomous Chinese province.
In 1996, when the initiative first started here, four Czech city and town halls flew Tibet’s flag. Last year, nearly 750 took part.
Slovak President in Brno to mark 100th anniversary of Czechoslovak Constitution
Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová is visiting the Czech city of Brno on Tuesday to mark the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the Czechoslovak Constitution.
Brno is the seat of the Czech Republic’s Constitutional Court, which will organize a ceremonial gathering in the afternoon.
Čaputová was welcomed by supporters holding red hearts in their hands, some of which read “We love you, Zuzana” in Slovak.
Earlier, she visited Hodonín, the birthplace of the first Czechoslovak president, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. She said he was among the greatest statesmen in the countries’ history.
Prague, regional city housing prices up 6.9 pct on average in 3Q19
Average housing prices in Prague and large regional cities grew by 6.9 percent year on year in the third quarter of 2019, to CZK 60,700 per square metre, a study by the consultancy Deloitte shows.
The biggest price increases were in Zlín (+18.9 percent), Ústí nad Labem (+15.7 percent) and Hradec Králové (+13.3 percent). Prices dropped most in Olomouc (-6.2 percent), Brno (-4.3 percent) and Pardubice (-1.8 percent).
Prague housing prices stood at CZK 85,400 per square metre on average in the third quarter. The average price of a new apartment in Prague has risen by 90 percent since mid-2015, Deloitte says.
The most expensive apartments were sold in Prague 1 (CZK 141,000 per sqm) and Prague 2 (CZK 116,100 per sqm). The cheapest were in Prague 9 (CZK 75,300 per sqm) and Prague 4 (CZK 76,000 per sqm).
ČSÚ: Number of Czechs at risk of income poverty rises to 10.1 pct
The average net income for a Czech household is nearly 7 percent higher than in 2017, but the number of people at risk of income poverty has also risen, the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ) said on Tuesday.
Last year, 10.1 percent of the population, about 1.06 million, were at risk of income poverty, meaning they earn less than 60 percent of the median net income.
Compared to 2018, an additional 50,000 more people are at risk, the Office said, while noting that the Czech Republic is among the best-performing countries in the European Union in this regard.
Occasional light rain is in the forecast for Wednesday. Daytime highs should range from 9 to 11 degrees Celsius.