Unused COVID-19 field hospital in Prague to be closed

The Prague 9 hospital has not been utilized since it was built in October, but has cost 50 million crowns in leasing fees.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 30.01.2021 11:27 (updated on 31.01.2021)

The Czech government will close the Prague field hospital that was built for COVID-19 patients but never used, Health Minister Jan Blatný (for ANO) told reporters on Friday.

However, the field hospital in Brno, the country's second largest city, will remain open and operate as a high-capacity COVID-19 vaccination center, Blatný added.

Deputy Health Minister Vladimír Černý said he proposed the abolition of the hospital in Letňany, on the northern outskirts of Prague, since its operation is inefficient in view of the current shortage of healthcare personnel.

The field hospital has not been used since last October, when the military built it. Its lease contract will end on February 6, Blatný noted.

If the situation with healthcare personnel improved, it would be much more efficient to strengthen the capacities of regular hospitals than to use the facility in Letňany, Černý said. This is why he proposed terminating its use and vacating it, which Blatný confirmed immediately.

So far, the state has paid 50.9 million crowns without VAT for leasing the Letňany exhibition grounds to their operator. The contract was extended last November until the end of February. If the lease contract were cancelled early, the Czech Republic would have to pay an additional 13.7 million crowns for it. It if expires in February without renewal, the state would pay less than three million.

The Czech military built the field hospital, with 500 beds for COVID-19 patients, in the exhibition halls in Letňany last autumn.

According to previous information, the field hospital would be used for the aftercare of COVID-19 patients. It would also serve those who could not be released home or to social care facilities, for instance, due to quarantine.

Blatný also said on Friday that the Letňany facility was not suitable as a vaccination center.

The government is taking steps that lack any concept and are incomprehensible as proven by the planned closure of the field hospital in Letňany, ODS opposition leader Petr Fiala said.

The leader of the opposition TOP 09 party, Markéta Pekarová Adamová, said the construction of the field hospital was nothing but a PR campaign from the government that cost taxpayers dearly.

"As we are enormously indebted, we should think twice of spending every crown from the public money, not waste millions," Pekarová Adamová said.

"The field hospital in Letňany is another manifestation of the incompetence of a government of losers," she added.

In mid-January, the government approved the establishment of a high-capacity coronavirus vaccination center in the O2 Universum multipurpose congress facility in Prague. It should be able to vaccinate up to 10,000 people a day, PM Andrej Babiš previously said. Its construction costs are estimated at 11.8 million crowns.

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However, the state will only cover energy costs as the lease of the grounds has been offered for free, Babiš said. The owner and operator of the arena is the Bestsport company from the PPF group, owned by Czech billionaire Petr Kellner.

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