Czech weekend news in brief: Top headlines for October 17, 2021

Covid-19 cases continue to rise, hospital approaches request for info on President "urgently and responsibly", and more headlines from this weekend.


Written by ČTK Published on 17.10.2021 10:01:00 (updated on 17.10.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

Number of new Covid-19 cases continues to rise, with 1,157 cases reported on Saturday

The Czech Republic reported 1,157 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, almost 500 more than a week ago and the highest weekend figure since May 8, according to data published by the Health Ministry. There are currently 463 Covid-19 patients in Czech hospitals, which is 15 fewer than on Friday but 135 more than on previous Saturday.

The weekly incidence rate, which shows the number of new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, has been steadily rising. It hit 86 on Saturday, up from 56 a week ago. The daily number of new coronavirus cases held at around 1,500 on workdays this past week, but rose to 1,781 on Friday, the highest number since early May.

Hospital approaches Senate's request for info on President's health responsibly

Prague's Central Military Hospital (UVN) is dealing with the Czech Senate's request for information about the condition of President Miloš Zeman urgently and responsibly, its spokeswoman Jitka Zinke wrote in response to CTK. "On Friday, UVN received a request from the Senate chairman and it is dealing with it with utmost responsibility and urgency," Zinke wrote. She did not specify when UVN would answer the request.

Senate chairman Miloš Vystrčil turned to the hospital after the Senate's request for the same information from the Presidential Office was unanswered. The reason behind the upper house's requests is the unclear health condition of Zeman, 77, who was taken to the hospital on October 10 following an eight-day stay there in September.

Hundreds protest Presidential Office for actions during Zeman's hospitalization

About 200 people gathered near Prague Castle, the seat of the Presidential Office, on Saturday evening to protest against the office's behavior in connection with President Miloš Zeman's health condition and questions surrounding his capability to execute his post. The protest was calm, and lasted about 20 minutes. Its organizer, Edita Šramotová, thanked the participants for coming and asked them to refrain from rudeness or violence.

"I want to protest against the deliberately mendacious and outrageous information that has been released in the public space by [Presidential Office] head Vratislav Mynář and press department and presidential spokesman Jiří Ovčáček," Šramotová said, her words supported by booing and whistling from the crowd. Šramotová called on members of the Senate, the upper house of Czech parliament, to take action. She expressed support for the staff at Prague's Central Military Hospital, where Zeman has been hospitalized since October 10.

People in Need continues collection of computers for low-income families

The humanitarian NGO People in Need has taken over the collection of computers gathered for low-income families to assist in distance learning amid the closure of schools due to coronavirus, Martina Hábová has told CTK on behalf of the NGO. She said the collection has helped equip about 2,800 families with computers necessary for distance learning since spring 2020. Computers were donated by 66 companies, and their distribution was supported by 232 organizations including 123 schools and 12 children's homes.

The collection will continue to operate regardless of whether distance learning is re-introduced, Hábová said. The goal of the collection is to provide necessary technical equipment to children who lack it. Discarded but still-working computers have allowed pupils who would have been otherwise unable to attend lessons the ability to do so.

Prague City Hall to further reduce its staff

Prague City Hall will continue to reduce its number of staff members in November during another wave of dismissals that will reduce City Hall's number of personnel by 7 percent this year, according to a document the City Council will debate on Monday. Out of Prague City Hall's staff of 2,300, about 160 employees have been made redundant. The city will pay about 12.5 million crowns in compensation to them. Further dismissals are planned for next year.

Prague's City Council, headed by Mayor Zdeněk Hřib, previously declared its goal to lower the number of staff by ten percent by the end of 2022. Seven percent are to be dismissed this year and the remaining three percent next year. By reducing the staff, the City will save up to 180 million crowns annually, Hřib said earlier this year.

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