Czech daily news roundup: Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Covid caused significant increase in healthcare costs, Czechia donates chemical warfare equipment to Ukraine, communist daily paper stops printing. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 29.03.2022 09:36:00 (updated on 29.03.2022) Reading time: 4 minutes

11:00 Prime Minister Petr Fiala has Covid

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala has reported a positive Covid test and is therefore self-isolating. The result means Fiala will not attend today's meeting of the Czech Chamber of Deputies, which will vote on the extension of the state of emergency in the Czech Republic. Writing on Twitter, Fiala said "I got a positive Covid test this morning. Now, of course, I have seven days of isolation." Fiala will be working from home in the meantime.

10:30 Extinction Rebellion activists block Prague road

Traffic on Nuselský Bridge in Prague stopped for a few minutes on Tuesday morning when a group of protestors sat on the road and unfurled banners about ditching fossil fuels. The demonstration was organized by Extinction Rebellion, an international organization causing disruption to urban activities damaging the environment as a way of drawing attention to climate change. Six people sat across three lanes, taking verbal abuse from drivers. Within minutes, police had dragged the protestors off the road.

10:00 Disney+ to launch in Czechia on June 14

Disney+ will launch in the Czech Republic and Slovakia on June 14, 2022. The streaming platform will present its own productions as well as a rich archive of Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and National Geographic films, TV series and documentaries. A subscription to Disney+ will cost CZK 199 a month, though it will be possible to buy a 12-month subscription for the price of ten, i.e. CZK 1,990 in total. A Disney+ account will allow up to seven independent profiles and will allow simultaneous streaming on four separate devices.

Health Covid saw healthcare costs grow by 30 percent

Spending on public healthcare in the Czech Republic grew by 30 percent in 2021 compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019, reaching a total of CZK 405 billion. Data came from an analytical commission which provides information guiding negotiations on public healthcare financing for the following year.

Overall healthcare costs in 2023 are projected by the commission at CZK 432 billion, an increase of almost CZK 30 billion on expenditures last year. They expect the state to lower health insurance payments by certain groups, including refugees, around 500,000 of whom are predicted to arrive in the Czech Republic this year.

Ukraine Czechia donates chemical warfare protective equipment to Ukraine

The Czech Republic has donated protective equipment to be used in the event of a chemical weapon attack on Ukraine, including protective masks, clothing, detection and decontamination systems. The Czech State office for Nuclear Safety responded to Ukraine’s request for help to members of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, over concerns that Russia could use such weapons during its invasion of Ukraine.

The Nuclear Safety office cooperated with the National Institute for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Protection over the Ukrainian request. The donated material, worth almost CZK 360,000, was given to the Embassy of Ukraine in Prague on Sunday ahead of shipment to Ukraine.

Politics Czech Communist Party stops publishing daily paper

The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, the Czech Republic’s communist political party which failed to make it into parliament at elections in October, will stop publishing its daily newspaper Haló noviny at the end of April. A spokesperson for the party said the paper currently has a circulation of around 6,000.

The party will instead publish a weekly publication. The downgrading of the paper is another sign of the waning influence of the Communist Party in the Czech Republic in recent years; its failure to enter the Czech parliament for the first time since the Velvet Revolution in 1989 was the culmination of years of declining support.

Media Czech Radio warns moderators after controversial broadcast

National radio broadcaster Czech Radio will provide instruction to its moderators on how to handle crisis situations after a controversial appearance by a military analyst during a live transmission on March 18. Martin Koller was invited on a current affairs program as a last-minute replacement for another guest, and producers failed to note that his past statements on the war in Ukraine had been misleading and false.

During the broadcast on Czech Radio, Koller claimed that the Ukrainian military is acting in the same way as the Islamic State group during the conflict in Syria, using civilians as human shields and allowing men to flee the country to avoid fighting. Koller also claimed that Ukrainian refugees are in fact economic migrants with no intentions of returning to Ukraine. Moderators failed to challenge Koller over his misleading statements.

Business Tobacco sales increased in the Czech Republic last year

Philip Morris ČR, a manufacturer and seller of cigarettes and other tobacco products, has reported a increase in sales of 5.5 percent to a total of CZK 18.867 billion in 2021. The sales figures do not include excise duty and VAT. However, the company’s profits fell slightly by 0.3 percent year-on-year, and the company’s combined market share fell by 1.1 percent.

The reason for the decline in profits and market share was a decrease in the share of classic cigarette sales by 3 percent, brought about by smokers switching to smokeless alternatives. An increase was seen in sales of HEETS tobacco cartridges and IQOS e-cigarette devices, which have a significantly lower level of harmful substances than conventional cigarettes. The total number of e-cigarette users in the Czech Republic and Slovakia increased last year by 140,000 to a total of 770,000. Of this total, approximately 560,000 switched from smoking conventional cigarettes.

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