News in brief for Oct. 3: Top headlines for Czechia on Tuesday

Czech Republic has EU's lowest unemployment rate, presidental spokesperson resigns, and more top headlines for Oct. 3, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 03.10.2023 08:16:00 (updated on 03.10.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

weather Czech weather agency issues warning for Prague tonight

Meteorologists from the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ) predict that strong winds will disrupt the pleasant warm weather in the capital this evening, potentially causing tree damage and minor destruction. A cold front is approaching, leading to a temperature drop to around 20 degrees Celsius. 

The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute warns of an imminent cold front crossing the capital, bringing strong west-to-northwest winds with gusts reaching 70 kilometers per hour, or higher in exposed areas. Rain is also forecast in the capital from 10 p.m. The institute issued a warning for Prague from 6 p.m. this evening until 1 a.m. Wednesday, urging people to secure windows, doors, and loose objects to prevent injuries. Temperatures in the capital will rise to above 20 degrees Celsius during the weekend.

Politics Pavel warns against Russian influence in Brussels talk

Czech President Petr Pavel, speaking at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium, cautioned against Russian aggression and Chinese ambitions, underscoring the importance of EU expansion. Pavel advocated for EU member states to exceed their current defense spending commitment of 2 percent of GDP, aligning with his home country, the Czech Republic.

Additionally, he mentioned the potential shift in EU voting rules from unanimity to qualified majority, signaling potential reforms within the European Union.

Health Czech officials recommend Covid and flu vaccination

Health officials in Czechia are urging people to get vaccinated against both influenza and Covid-19 as the season for respiratory diseases begins. The State Health Institute has revealed a current rate of around 700 cases per 100,000 citizens. Risk groups, particularly the elderly and those with chronic illnesses, are encouraged to seek vaccination, which is fully covered for everyone for Covid-19 and for people over 65 for the flu.

Younger individuals can have their flu vaccination paid for by their health insurance company's prevention fund. Health Minister Vlastimil Valek emphasized the availability of vaccination centers across regions.

Society Depression and anxiety on the rise in Czechia

Depression and anxiety are on the rise in Czech society, with experts reporting a more than 20 percent increase between 2010 and 2021. The country faces a shortage of crisis care facilities, requiring up to three times more mental health centers. The Psychiatric Society of the Czech Medical Society emphasized the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine war on mental health, highlighting the need to boost resilience, a person's ability to cope with emotional challenges.

Experts stress prevention and resilience-building through various approaches, including crisis care, psychotherapy, and community support. Depressive disorders have notably surged during the pandemic, affecting a significant portion of the population.

MONEY Czech National Bank unveils new CZK 5,000 coin

The Czech National Bank (ČNB) has introduced a new gold coin with a CZK 5,000 nominal value, dedicated to Hradec Králové. This coin is the sixth installment in a 10-part series called the Municipal Monument Reserve, initiated by the ČNB in 2021.

The coin is available for purchase and comes in two variants: standard (5,300 pieces) and high-end design (9,700 pieces), differing in surface treatment and edge design. Designed by Věra Prokopová, the coin boasts a 999.9 purity gold composition, weighing 15.55 grams, and measuring 28 millimeters in diameter. It celebrates the city's architectural heritage.

WEATHER September in Prague was the hottest ever

According to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, last month in Prague 1’s Klementinum marked the warmest on record since measurements began in 1775, with an average monthly temperature of 19.6 degrees Celsius. This deviated by 4.4 degrees Celsius from the long-term average spanning from 1775 to 2014. 

The highest daily average temperature, 23.9 degrees Celsius, occurred on Sept. 12, while the lowest, 14.2 degrees Celsius, was noted on Sept. 24. The station's second-warmest September was in 1798 at 19.4 degrees Celsius, followed by 1947 at 19.1 degrees Celsius. Conversely, the coldest recorded Sept. was in 1912, with an average monthly temperature of 10.1 degrees Celsius.

GOVERNMENT New state budget to cut funding for over 10 ministries

The government's draft budget for the upcoming year involves subsidy cuts for 12 ministries, with exceptions for the ministries of finance and defense. These cuts total CZK 84.1 billion less than the current year's subsidies, according to the Ministry of Finance's proposal. 

Nearly half of this reduction, CZK 38 billion, stems from discontinuing one-time subsidies for the transmission and distribution system. The remaining CZK 46.1 billion consists of limitations on existing subsidies. The Ministry of Industry and Trade bears the most substantial reductions, including a CZK 13.5 billion decrease in state support for renewable energy sources. The Ministry of Agriculture also faces cuts, mainly affecting agricultural policy and related subsidies, totaling CZK 10.4 billion less than this year.

incident Train collision near Karlovy Vary kills two

In an incident near the village of Závišín (Karlovy Vary) today at 9:30 a.m., a collision between a handling train and a group of workers resulted in two fatalities and two individuals airlifted to hospitals with severe injuries. The accident occurred around 200 meters from a railway crossing as the train, typically used for machinery transport, headed from Bělčice to Blatná.

Investigations are ongoing to determine the cause. First responders, including ground crews from the Medical Rescue Service and helicopters from the Air Rescue Service, swiftly arrived. Despite intensive pre-hospital care, two men succumbed to life-threatening injuries while the others received critical medical attention.

politics Czech president's spokeswoman resigns

Markéta Řeháková is stepping down from her role as spokeswoman for Czech President Petr Pavel, just a month after leaving her position at the Presidential Office communication department, reports Denik N. Řeháková, who had been by Pavel's side throughout his presidential campaign and was subsequently appointed as his spokeswoman, left her communication department role in early September.

Although no formal notice was given, Řeháková left following an agreement, and she declined to comment on the matter. The Presidential Office, currently undergoing personnel changes, has not appointed a new communication department head, and the president has expressed his desire to continue working with Rehakova.

EQUALITY Czech theaters call for govt. support of same-sex unions

Representatives of 25 Czech theaters have called on Prime Minister Petr Fiala to support same-sex marriage in an open letter. The letter from artistic directors says the current law discriminates against LGBTQ+ people in their ensembles. While PM Fiala supports debating the issue, he says MPs should decide based on their convictions.

A theater spokesman noted surveys show roughly two-thirds of Czechs back same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples can currently enter registered partnerships but not marriage. Parliament has debated a same-sex marriage bill since 2016 while also considering defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

health Emergency dental service opens in Prague

The Na Františku Hospital in Prague has inaugurated a new dental emergency room to alleviate the demand for urgent dental care in the city and the Central Bohemian Region. Operating from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends and holidays, the dental emergency is supported by the city of Prague.

The facility is intended for adult patients, with discussions underway to expand services for children. The hospital secured funding for equipment and staffing and reports no shortage of interested doctors due to modern facilities and competitive salaries. The move aims to address acute dental treatment needs in the area.

Economy Czechia retains EU's lowest unemployment rate

The European Union's unemployment rate dropped to 5.9 percent in August, down from six percent in July, as reported by Eurostat. In the Czech Republic, the rate fell to the EU's lowest at 2.5 percent, compared to 2.7 percent in July. In the eurozone, unemployment decreased to 6.4 percent from 6.5 percent in July.

Eurostat estimated 12.837 million unemployed people in the EU in August, with 10.856 million in the euro area. Youth unemployment in the Czech Republic also declined to 8.5 percent in August, down from 9.6 percent in July. Eurostat uses International Labor Organization criteria for its calculations.

transport Czech capital in danger of losing metro D funding

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is considering canceling its financing for the construction of Prague's Metro Line D due to a complaint from a consortium led by construction firm PORR, which submitted the lowest bid. Prague's public transport company (DPP) had excluded PORR, citing deficiencies in the competition.

Construction of line D, which was initially set to begin this fall, is now expected in spring next year. DPP selected Subterra and Hochtief as winners with a nearly 30 billion crown bid, while PORR's cheaper offer was rejected. The controversy has raised questions about transparency in the tender process.

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