Czechia morning headlines: Country sees 10th monkeypox case and a sharp increase in Covid

Plus: Mlejnek becomes new chief of Czech foreign intelligence, Czechia wants to quicken Croatia’s entry of Schengen Area, and more. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 07.07.2022 16:59:00 (updated on 08.07.2022) Reading time: 6 minutes

Health Czechia reports 10th monkeypox case

Czech public health officers have confirmed the 10th case of monkeypox in the country, a 33-year-old man living in Prague who stayed six days in Berlin at the end of June and who had symptoms in the beginning of July, the Prague public health office said in a press release. The man was treated in a health facility and is in strict home isolation. The nine previous cases concern Czech citizens and foreigners living in Prague, mostly people in their thirties. Some of them often stayed abroad before they got infected, for example in the Canary Islands, Portugal, or at a festival in Belgium. The first case of monkeypox was revealed in the country on May 24.

Health Most new Covid cases since the start of May

After two holiday days, 1,549 new cases of coronavirus were added in the Czech Republic on Thursday, the most in one day since the beginning of May and almost a third more than a week ago. In the past seven days, approximately 5,400 people have been diagnosed with Covid. It is about 260 fewer than the previous week, but that week was not interrupted by holidays. The number of infected people in hospitals continues to grow. On Thursday, 262 people with Covid were hospitalized, their number has almost doubled in two weeks, according to Health Ministry data. According to current information, there were 13 patients in serious condition, nine last Thursday. The last time they were there was on May 24.

The daily increase in cases started to be higher in the week-on-week comparison at the beginning of June, in the last week they exceeded 1,000 on all working days. According to the Ministry of Health, the number of infected people due to the more contagious subvariants of the virus will continue to increase for several weeks. However, it does not plan measures against the spread of the disease, because hospitals and especially intensive care units are not full. According to the State Health Institute (SZÚ), the current increase is due to the more contagious BA.4 or BA.5 subvariants of the Omicron coronavirus. The Ministry of Health recommends seniors and the chronically ill get revaccinated before autumn.

Crime Drugged Czech driver caught transporting explosives

German police stopped a truck from a Czech transport company on the autobahn near Cologne. That was transporting 300 unsecured barrels with 10 tons of explosives. The driver was under the influence of drugs, according to news agency DPA. Police found a replacement driver and escorted the vehicle to a specialized company in Hürth, a town adjacent to Cologne. The barrels, which were simply stacked on pallets, were secured so they could be transported. A test showed a significant amount of drugs in the driver's body, though the police did not specify what the drugs were.

Politics Mlejnek becomes new chief of Czech foreign intelligence

Former military intelligence (VZ) analyst Petr Mlejnek became the new head of the Office for Foreign Relations and Information (ÚZSI) today, replacing Marek Simandl who is the new chair of the Czech General Customs Authority as of the same day. In early June, the government approved the changes, proposed by Interior Minister Vít Rakušan. Mlejnek is a former career soldier who later worked in the private sector in technical security. The ÚZSI is an intelligence service in charge of foreign information vital for the security and defense of foreign political and economic interests of the Czech Republic.

Politics Czechia wants to quicken Croatia’s entry of Schengen Area

Czechia would like the decision on Croatia’s entry of the Schengen Area to be made during its presidency of the Council of the EU and it will do its utmost for it, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala told a press conference after his talks with Croat PM Andrej Plenković in Prague. Fiala said he believes Croatia has met all conditions of the entry. He said they also talked with Plenković about cooperation in the energy industry, LNG terminals, and capacities for oil transport. Plenković repeatedly said Croatia wanted to join the Schengen Area of free movement of goods and persons in January 2023.

Culture Judit Bárdos earns Blue Cube at KVIFF

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival will award the Blue Cube prize for an extraordinary artistic performance to Slovak-Hungarian actress Judit Bárdos today. She will be awarded for her roles in the films “Fair Play,” “The Magic Quill,” and “The Last Race.” "All the three roles were like presents for me. I had an opportunity to try three quite different and beautiful artistic styles," Bárdos said. Tomáš Hodan’s sports drama “The Last Race” is a part of the festival program this year.

July 7, 2022

Politics Interior Minister Rakušan says he won’t resign

Interior Minister Vít Rakušan (STAN) refused to step down and told the Chamber of Deputies that the opposition's argument that he headed an organized crime movement was just demagoguery and propaganda. The Chamber had a special session initiated by the opposition ANO with the motto "organized crime of the STAN movement." Debate was interrupted after two and a half hours at the request of ANO. STAN leader Rakušan pointed out that ANO leader Andrej Babiš never stepped down during a subsidy fraud scandal involving his companies. 

Nature Safari Park Dvur Králové gets flock of African penguins

Safari Park Dvůr Králové will open an exhibition of endangered African penguins on July 11. It will be the largest in the Czech Republic. The zoo will breed penguins for the first time in its 76-year history. A flock of 24 penguins arrived at the zoo at the end of June from the Dutch zoos in Arnhem and Amsterdam. The investment in the exhibition is CZK 43 million. The penguins should inhabit the outdoor part of the exhibit all year round. They also have an indoor facility with two pools. On a pebble beach, the penguins have special nesting houses that they should inhabit and later raise their young in.

EU presidency First ministerial summit to deal with migration and rights

The war in Ukraine, migration, and protection of the rights of vulnerable persons will be on the agenda of the first informal meeting of the ministers of interior and justice during the Czech EU presidency in Prague. The ministers will also discuss the increased fight against sexual abuse of children and digitization of international judicial cooperation. In Prague, there will be meetings of ministers of justice and interior on July 11–12. These will be followed a week later by the meetings of environment and European affairs ministers.

Fire Scrap yard blaze under control after 40 hours

The plastic waste fire in the scrap yard in Kralupy nad Vltavou is now under control after about 40 hours. It broke out on Tuesday night, and firefighters are continuing to extinguish it. An investigation into the cause of the fire will take place after the fire has been completely put out, Central Bohemia Fire Department spokesman Tomáš Bakalář said. On Wednesday evening, there were around 25 fire units in the area, this morning there were 22. The fire engulfed a pile of waste about 50 meters wide. One of the firefighters was slightly injured.

Science Czech scientists help discover fast moving star near black hole

A team of astrophysicists that included scientists from Masaryk University in Brno discovered a star with the shortest period of orbit around a supermassive black hole. The star, named S4716, completes a full rotation in four years, according to a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal. The star orbits the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Its top speed is 8,000 kilometers per second, or 2.7 percent of the speed of light. Astrophysicist Michal Zajaček, who participated in the study, said the origin of the star is a mystery as it could not have formed near the black hole. The team also included experts from the University of Cologne and the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy.  

Art New record set for auctions in the first half of 2022

In the first half of the year, collectors and investors spent a record CZK 910.8 million, including auction commissions, on art and antiques at public auctions in the Czech Republic, some 7 percent more year-on-year, Jan Stuchlík, editor-in-chief of the Artplus, told ČTK. The stated amount does not include internet auctions or specialized coin or stamp auctions. Collectors also raised the prices at auctions by the highest amount to date. For the first time, the threshold of CZK 100 million for one work was crossed and more than half of the offered works were sold on the market. Some 4,136 auctioned works and objects found new owners in the first half of the year.

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