Daily news summary


First three cases of coronavirus infection reported in Czech Republic

The Czech health minister has confirmed the first three cases of coronavirus infection in the Czech Republic. All three are in Prague’s Bulovka hospital, one was transported there from Usti nad Labem, north of Prague.

One of the infected is a 67-year-old Czech man who recently returned from a conference in Udine, Italy. The other is a 34-year-old Czech man who holidayed at a ski resort in Italy with his family. He travelled back by car together with his wife and four children. The whole family has been quarantined. The third infected is a 21-year-old American studying in Milan. She came to the Czech Republic together with her friend from Ecuador, who also has health problems. Her first test has come out negative.

It is not yet clear how many other people that the three came into contact with will be quarantined. None of the patients are reported to be in serious condition.

Hundreds take part in protest against “force undermining democracy”

Several hundred people took part in a protest march and demonstration against “forces undermining democratic institutions in the Czech Republic” in Prague on Sunday afternoon. The protest was organized by the civic movement Million Moments for Democracy which has led some of the biggest anti-government protests since the fall of communism.

The movement is demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Babiš, over his alleged conflict of interest and recently opposed the appointment of Marie Benešová to the post of justice minister. This latest protest on Prague’s Old Town Square was sparked by the appointment of Stanislav Křeček to the post of ombudsman.

Křeček, who was nominated by President Miloš Zeman, and elected by the Chamber of Deputies, angered his critics by saying he would defend the rights of the “majority society” and that Romanies should take care of their own rights. He has also come under fire for his description of Muslim migrants as an “invasion”.

Czech political leaders congratulate election winner in Slovakia

Czech political leaders have sent congratulations to Igor Matovic whose centre-right, anti-graft OLaNO opposition party won Slovakia’s general elections at the weekend.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš congratulated Matovic on a brilliant campaign and said he was looking forward to close cooperation with the new Slovak administration on a bilateral level as well as within the Visegrad group and the EU.

OLaNO took 24.87 percent of the vote in the elections, ahead of 18.73 percent for the governing populist-left Smer-SD party, the conservative We Are Family scored 8.34 percent, the liberal Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) won 5.67 percent and the fellow liberal "For the People" of ex-president Andrej Kiska gained 5.43 percent of the vote.

Military plane with humanitarian aid on its way to China

A military plane carrying humanitarian aid to China took off from Prague’s Kbely airport early on Sunday.

The plane, which should arrive in Beijing on Monday, is loaded with 5 tonnes of medical equipment to help tackle the coronavirus epidemic in the country, including facemasks, respirators, latex gloves, disinfectants and protective medical uniforms.

The aid was donated by the Office of the President, various Czech towns and regions as well as companies such as Skoda Auto.

Spiritual Kvintet launches Goodbye Tour

The oldest Czech folk group Spiritual Kvintet will play the first of a string of 14 goodbye concerts in Prague’s Lucerna Hall on Sunday. The group is winding up a 60-year-long career on stage.

It will be playing its most popular hits including the Czech version of We shall Overcome. The group which has seen members come and go focussed largely on American spiritual and gospel songs gaining huge popularity during the communist years. It has released dozens of albums and performed thousands of concerts at home and abroad.

Avalanche alert in Krkonoše Mountains

A third degree avalanche alert has been declared in the Krkonoše Mountains following several days of heavy snow and strong winds.

The mountain rescue service says the situation is extremely dangerous since a combination of factors have created a highly unstable layer of snow on many slopes.

Skiers have been warned not to take risks or stray from marked trails.

Weather forecast

Monday should be partly cloudy to overcast with rain or snow showers and day temperatures between 7 and 11 degrees Celsius.