Daily news summary

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Coronavirus: Five Czechs evacuated from China to be quarantined in Prague

Five Czechs evacuated from China due to fear of contracting the deadly coronavirus are due to land in Belgium on Sunday and then be transported to Prague, where they will be placed in hospital quarantine for two weeks.

The five Czechs, along with two Slovaks, left China aboard a French plane under an arrangement between the respective countries’ foreign ministries.

More than 300 people in China have died from coronavirus, declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization last week as it spread to at least 25 other countries.

As of Saturday, no-one in the Czech Republic, including 37 people believed at risk, had tested positive for coronavirus.

Czech Foreign Minister to propose releasing humanitarian aid to China

Foreign minister Tomáš Petříček (Social Democrats) plans to propose the government release up to 10 million crowns in humanitarian aid to China due to the spread of the coronavirus. The aid would come in the form of medical supplies.

Petříček said on Twitter that he had spoken with the Chinese ambassador to Prague, Zhang Jianmin, about humanitarian aid in the morning.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) had said on Saturday the Czech Republic could not answer China’s request for humanitarian aid because medical supplies were needed for domestic use.

Babiš later added that the country would provide financial assistance to China and call on humanitarian groups to organize collections.

Poll: most Czechs agree on sending troops on foreign missions, if UN-approved

Most Czechs agree the nation’s military troops should take part in foreign missions, according to a flash poll taken after the government’s proposal on Monday to send more troops to bolster UN Missions in Mali, Niger and Chad.

A Median survey conducted for Czech Radio found two-thirds of respondents supported sending troops abroad – but more than half say they should be UN-approved missions only.

In total, nearly Czech 650 soldiers are now deployed in foreign operations. The survey came as MPs began discussing amending constitutional law to allow the government to decide on sending Czech soldiers on future missions without seeking approval by parliament.

The move is supported by the government coalition (ANO and the Social Democrats), and the opposition Civic Democrat, TOP 09 and Christian Democrat parties.

‘Million Moments’ sues Communists for public apology over hospital cyberattack claim

The initiative ‘A Million Moments for Democracy’ has filed a lawsuit against the Communist party and its chairman for falsely linking the group with a cyberattack on a hospital. ‘Million Moments’ is demanding a public apology.

The hospital in Benešov, central Bohemia, was hit by a cyberattack on December 11 that paralyzed the institution for days since staff were unable to use x-ray, ultrasound and electronic laboratory equipment and could not exchange information with other hospitals.

Million Moments has since last April been staging large protests calling for the ouster of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) over alleged subsidy fraud and conflict of interest.

At a central committee meeting last month, Communist party chairman Vojtěch Filip criticized the tactics of the initiative, and claimed, among other things, they staged a “cyber terrorist attack on the hospital” in Benešov.

Babiš’s minority coalition government of relies on the support of the Communists, giving the party a political say for the first time since 1989. In exchange for its tolerance, the Communists have won some major policy concessions.

Old-Timers wins Czech Film Critics’ best film, director awards

Old-Timers (Staříci), a feature film about a geriatric pair of men seeking revenge on a communist-era prosecutor, has won the Czech Film Critics annual award for Best Film of 2019.

Co-helmers Martin Dušek and Ondřej Provazník, shared the Best Director award for Old Timers, their debut feature film. Previously, they had mainly worked on film documentaries and TV projects.

Also nominated in the Best Film category was Owners, a theatre play about a co-op board adapted to film, and the WWII epic drama The Painted Bird.

The award for best film outside classic cinema distribution went to the Oscar-nominated short film Daughter by FAMU student Daria Kashcheeva, which last week won a jury prize as Sundance.

The Discovery of the Year award went to Bohdan Karásek for his debut film about a tragicomic relationship about thirty-somethings called Karel, Me and You.

The Best Documentary award went to a father-and-son road movie called Dálava directed by Martin Mareček.

Trigema: Prague rents down 1.5 pct last year, up 2.6 pct in Czech regions

Average Prague rental prices fell by 1.5 percent last year to 335 crowns per square metre but rose on average by 2.6 percent outside the Czech capital, according to the developer Trigema.

Of the 10 central Prague districts, rental prices dropped in four: Prague 3 (-9.1 percent), Prague 1 (-7.2 percent) and Prague 2 (-2.3 percent). The highest increases were recorded in Prague 9 (3.7 percent) and Prague 6 (2.9 percent).

However, Prague rental prices are expected to rise again in 2020, as well as in the second-biggest city, Brno, said company CEO Marcel Soural.

Weather

Monday should be partly cloudy to overcast, with occaisional light rain possible. Daytime highs should range from 7 to 9 degrees Celsius.