Health minister offers olive branch
The Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and Health Minister David Rath have promised to amend a controversial directive on health care payments, according to which doctors would receive more money for treatment as of April 1st. The health minister said this was made possible by the improving financial situation of the largest state owned health insurance company VZP. The insurer's debt is said to have dropped to 7 billion crowns, down from 14 billion in the previous year. Despite the announcement, doctors are going ahead with preparations for a massive demonstration against the health minister's radical reforms next Friday. They claim that the demonstration could only be averted by the health minister's resignation or dismissal. Pharmacists and patients are expected to support the protest action.
Police investigate gas explosion
Police are investigating the cause of Saturday's gas explosion in a Prague restaurant which killed two people and injured four others. The blast shook the three story apartment block early on Saturday morning, demolishing the ground floor where several restaurant employees were working and shattering windows in the upper storeys. Fifteen residents were evacuated, while emergency crews used sniffer dogs to find people trapped in the debris. Investigators say it is likely that a gas pipeline may accidentally have been damaged during work in the building.
The Czech hockey team took a beating at the hands of the Fins at the Olympic Ice Hockey Tournament on Saturday. The 4:2 defeat was the second loss in a row for the Czechs, considered a gold medal contender coming into the games. Even worse top winger Jaromir Jagr was injured when he was slammed into the boards by Jarkko Ruutu in the second period. The Czech team is already depleted by the loss of goalie Domink Hasek and forward Patrik Elias to injuries. The Czechs face Italy in a decisive match on Sunday night.
Sport - men's freestyle skiing aerials
Olympic men's aerials champion Ales Valenta appears to have shrugged off a knee injury and will defend his title after he was named on the start list for Monday's qualification round. Valenta, a surprise winner in 2002 when he landed the difficult quintuple-twist triple backflip, injured his knee in training on Tuesday and said he did not know if he would be fit to compete. Qualification for the men's freestyle skiing aerials takes place on Monday with the finals on Thursday.
Monday is expected to be partly cloudy with day temperatures between 6 and 10 degrees Celsius.