Daily news summary

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Speaker of the Senate, Jaroslav Kubera, dies at 72

The speaker of the Senate Jaroslav Kubera has died at the age of 72, a spokesperson for the upper house reported on Monday. Mr. Kubera was reported to have been unexpectedly taken ill on his way to work and died shortly after in hospital. Jaroslav Kubera was elected head of the Senate in November of 2018. In previous years he served as mayor of Teplice (1994 to 2018).

Tributes are pouring in for the seasoned politician from across the political spectrum. Jaroslav Kubera was a fine man with a great sense of humour. When he took the helm in the Senate he gave things new dynamics, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš wrote on Twitter, extending heartfelt condolences to Jaroslav Kubera’s family.

President Miloš Zeman said via his spokesman: Although we had differences of opinion, I considered Jaroslav Kubera a friend. The news of his death touched me deeply.

The head of the Civic Democrats Petr Fiala, Kubera’s own party, said Kubera was a good and honest man, a defender of freedom and common sense.

The head of the centre-right TOP 09 party Markéta Adamova said Kubera would be remembered as a straightforward politician who always spoke his own mind. I did not always agree with him, but his attitude commanded respect, Adamova said.

Austrian police detain 40 migrants on border with Czech Republic

Austrian police say they have detained 40 Afghan migrants on the country’s northern border with the Czech Republic.

The daily Kronen Zeitung which reported the story said people smugglers were increasingly using routes through the Czech Republic to lead asylum seekers to their chosen destination. The forty migrants are all young men who have now filed for asylum in Austria.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his Czech counterpart Andrej Babis discussed problems relating to migration in Prague last week, emphasizing the need to curb illegal migration and strengthen the EU’s outer borders.

PM makes call for financial donations to help orphans in Syria

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is no longer counting on building a centre for orphans in Syria and has announced his intention to send money instead.

The prime minister said he would respond to an appeal for financial aid from the local authorities by sending half a million crowns from his personal account and said he hoped others would follow his example.

The prime minister has long defended his government’s decision not to admit orphan migrants to the Czech Republic by arguing that the country is doing a great deal to help migrants in their home countries.

He earlier stated his intention to build a centre for orphans in Syria, but now said that according to more recent findings finances to organizations helping migrants were needed much more.

Christian Democrats' Jurečka dismisses idea of centre-right electoral alliance

MP Marian Jurečka, who is standing for chairman of the opposition Christian Democrats, has poured cold water on the idea that an alliance of centre-right parties could jointly contest the next Czech general elections. Speaking in Monday’s edition of the newspaper Právo, he said he did not wish to give voters false hopes.

Mr. Jurečka said he had experience of a coalition with the Mayors and Independents and that while the goal was noble the alliance had run up against electoral and party financing legislation. Unless the law is changed, the idea of such a coalition is doomed, he said.

IKEM performs record number of transplants

The Prague Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine IKEM last year conducted a record number of 540 organ transplants on 486 patients, the head of the institute Ondřej Viklický told journalists at a press briefing in Prague on Monday.

He said this made IKEM the biggest transplant centre in Europe, with more transplants performed than the biggest transplant centres in Great Britain or the Scandinavian countries.

IKEM performs 70 percent of all the transplants performed in the Czech Republic. Other transplant clinics are in university hospitals in Prague’s Motol Hospital, in Brno, Hradec Králové, Plzen, Ostrava and Olomouc.

Ministry preparing to introduce online medical appointment applications

The Ministry of Health is set to implement new measures to benefit patients, Czech Television reported on Monday. Officials plan to introduce electronic application forms for medical appointments and to release regular data on waiting times for examinations, the station said. The ministry is currently consulting the changes with doctors and insurance companies, who are charged with monitoring waiting times.

A special commission is due to discuss electronic application forms at the end of this month. Out-patient specialists are demanding assurances that moving the system online will not end patients’ freedom to choose a doctor.

Weather forecast

Tuesday should be overcast with heavy fog in the morning hours and day temperatures between -2 and 2 degrees Celsius.