Daily news summary

CEZ chief: State will hold talks next month with firms seeking nuclear unit contract

The state will next month hold consultations with companies seeking a contract to build a new nuclear unit in the Czech Republic, the head of semi-state power giant CEZ, Daniel Beneš, said on Tuesday. The Czech News Agency reported that government official Jaroslav Míl and CEZ representatives would helm the negotiations, which should conclude by February 19.

Mr. Beneš said five companies were in the running for the contract. They are Russia’s Rosatom, Westinghouse from the US, EDF of France, South Korea’s KHNP and China General Nuclear Power.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis said in November that work on a new unit at the Dukovany nuclear power station would get underway in 2029 and would be completed in 2035.

The minister of industry and trade, Karel Havlíček, said discussion on expanding the country’s second nuclear power station, Temelín, would have to begin within five years.

Ministry of Education against plan to cut benefits over children’s truancy

A proposal from the Czech minister of labour and social affairs, Jana Maláčová, to withhold benefits from parents of children who played truant has met with resistance from the Ministry of Education, the news site Novinky.cz reported. Officials at the government department said the plan would make conditions for teaching children worse and impact their motivation and futures.

Under Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs draft legislation, benefits for accommodation would not go to people whose children missed 100 hours or more of school for non-health reasons.

Health services updating information on coronavirus in response to public queries

The Czech Ministry of Health, the National Institute of Public Health and hygiene officials in Prague say they are regularly updating information about the coronavirus on their websites in response to queries from the public.

The Czech News Agency reported that increasing numbers of people are seeking information by email and telephone regarding the infection, which originated in China but has not yet been registered in the Czech Republic.

The virus has spread across China and to 16 countries globally. Over 100 deaths had been recorded by Tuesday.

Czech Republic has highest incidence of kidney cancer in world

The Czech Republic has the highest per capita incidence of kidney cancer of any country in the world, the news website iDnes.cz reported, citing the League Against Cancer, which is focusing on that form of the disease in its campaigning this year. The renal cancer rate in the Czech Republic is twice the average rate for the European Union. There is also a relatively high incidence of it in neighbouring Bavaria.

Around 2,000 people are diagnosed with kidney cancer in the Czech Republic every year, with around 800 dying of it annually.

Killers added to Colours of Ostrava bill

US band The Killers are the latest name to be added to the line-up of the Colours of Ostrava music festival in July. Other names on the bill for one of the biggest events of its kind in this country include LP, Tindersticks, The Lumineers, Sleaford Mods and Youssou N’Dour.

The four-day festival takes place at a former industrial site in the north-eastern city. It also features Melting Pot, a series of talks with notable speakers from around the world.

Petra Kvitová knocked out of Australian Open

In tennis, Czech Petra Kvitová failed to reach the women's singles semifinals at the Australian Open. Last year's runner-up and No. 7 seed was beaten by World No.1 Ashleigh Barty 7-6, 6-2. Kvitová was the last Czech hopes in the singles competition in Melbourne.

In women’s doubles, Czech Barbora Strýcová with her Taiwanese partner Hsieh Su- Wei are set to take on the Czech duo Barbora Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková for a place in the finals.

Weather forecast

Wednesday should be overcast in the Czech Republic, with temperatures of up to 3 degrees Celsius. Daytime highs are expected to climb to 10 degrees Celsius at the weekend.