Czech news in brief: Foreign ministry issues travel warning for Iran

Top headlines for the Czech Republic for Feb. 21, 2023 in brief. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 21.02.2023 10:36:00 (updated on 22.02.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

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Travel warning Foreign ministry tells Czechs to avoid Iran

The Foreign Ministry has called on Czechs residing in Iran to leave due to high-security risks. It also strongly warned against travel to the country. Only a handful of Czechs currently reside in Iran, according to a public database.

The ministry’s issued the warning based on the rising number of cases in which EU citizens are being wrongfully detained or investigated. On Monday, the EU extended the list of Iranian officials on whom it imposed sanctions for the harsh oppression of anti-regime protests, adding a further 32 names.

UKRAINE Refugee healthcare costs could reach over 2 billion yearly

State health insurer VZP has estimated that Ukrainian refugees will cost the company about CZK 2.1 billion in insurance costs this year. In 2022, refugees from Ukraine collectively used VZP’s services to the value of CZK 1.75 billion. A temporary protection visa gives refugees access to the state health system for free. About 367,000 Ukrainians are currently registered in the VZP system. However, over half of them did not use any healthcare facility in Czechia at all.

2023 ELECTIONS Pavel officially ‘wins’ presidential election

Petr Pavel’s victory in the January presidential elections in Czechia has been officially verified and acknowledged by the Supreme Administrative Court (NSS), according to a press release issued today. Pavel’s margin of victory actually increased marginally, with the gap between himself and rival former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš widening by about 300 votes. Over 400 complaints had been made to the NSS regarding the election, but none were upheld.

PRESIDENCY Czech president-elect to undergo medical exam

President-elect Petr Pavel will undergo a general check-up at Prague’s Central Military Hospital to ensure he is in good health prior to commencing the presidency on March 9. He told reporters in January that “he felt in excellent health.”

Pavel has said the results of the examination would be made publicly available before his inauguration. The incumbent Miloš Zeman was twice hospitalized towards the end of 2021; the public was kept in the dark about Zeman's health multiple times.

HEALTH Respiratory illness on the rise in Czechia

More people in Czechia are suffering from respiratory-related infections and Covid-19, data from the State Health Institute shows. Positive tests for Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants have increased by almost 50 percent week on week.

The overall incidence of flu-related illnesses has increased by 10.5 percent in people aged 25 to 64. However, fewer are seriously ill compared to last year: there are currently about 433 people hospitalized due to Covid-19, in contrast to 3,493 in hospital in February 2022.

TURKISH EARTHQUAKE Ceremony for quake victims held in Prague

A commemorative ceremony was held in Prague’s Wenceslas Square to mark the tens of thousands killed in Turkey’s recent multiple earthquakes. The Turkish Ambassador attended the ceremony which was organized by the Turkish community in Prague. Czechia dispatched some 70 rescuers to Turkey, who have since returned to Czechia.

Czech units discovered around 80 bodies and saved three lives. The Czech government also sent packages of medical equipment. The World Health Organization assessed the quake as the worst natural disaster of this century.

MUSIC Prague choir to perform ‘War Requiem' for Ukraine

The Prague Philharmonic Choir will perform British composer Benjamin Britten’s well-known “War Requiem, Op. 66,” at its Concert for the End of the War in Ukraine tonight. The performance will take place in the capital’s Rudolfinum.

The choice of Britten’s piece – which references another deadly conflict, World War II – is meant to draw attention to the atrocities ongoing in Ukraine, says the choir’s director. The concert will be broadcast live by Czech Radio Vltava and Ukrainian Radio Suspilne.

CHINA Czech counterintelligence agency warns of China threat

Czech Security Information Service chief Michal Koudelka said today that security risks originating from China are more threatening than those from Russia. China’s status as a major exporter of medicines is also problematic in managing China-West relations.

Koudelka also warned against Chinese espionage, saying that Chinese intelligence skills have improved markedly in recent years. Read our full story here.

Clean energy Ministry eyes expanding 'green' subsidy program

The Ministry of Environment plans to broaden a national subsidy program that provides government funding for the construction of energy-saving buildings. The changes would give homeowners, builders, and developers incentives for transitioning their homes from gas to renewable energy sources. The state currently provides partial funding for installing photovoltaic devices such as solar panels and insulating houses. Information on the program can be found here

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