Czech weekend news in brief: top stories for Jan. 17, 2021

Czech COVID-19 vaccinations cross 100,000, state of emergency to be extended, Jan Palach remembered and more headlines from this weekend

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 17.01.2021 07:00 (updated on 17.01.2021)

New Czech COVID-19 cases continue to decline

The Czech Republic reported 5,199 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, according to the latest data from the Czech Health Ministry posted this morning. Like the past few days, the number of new cases is about one-third fewer than a week ago. There are 6,473 COVID-19 patients being treated in hospitals, the lowest number in almost two weeks, but the number of those in serious condition remains above 1,100.

The total number of known active COVID-19 cases has fallen slightly to about 150,000. A total of 889,159 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the Czech Republic since last March; the total number of COVID-19-related deaths now stands at 14,338.

Czech COVID-19 risk index falls by two points, remains within fourth level

The Czech Republic's COVID-19 risk index fell by two points to 70 on the 0-100 scale today, staying within the fourth alert level for the fourth day in a row according to the latest data from the Health Ministry. Current COVID-19 restrictions reflect the fifth and highest alert level, and the government does not plan to soften them in the coming days, Health Minister Jan Blatný said earlier this week.

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The numbers of new infections among senior citizens and of those who were diagnosed with COVID-19 after being admitted to a hospital have slightly fallen. The reproduction number (R number) has also slightly fallen, to 0.68.

Over 105,000 now vaccinated against COVID-19 in the Czech Republic, says PM

A total of 105,167 people have now been vaccinated against coronavirus in the Czech Republic, PM Andrej Babiš told local media on Saturday. Vaccinations in the country began on December 27, since when over 169,000 vaccines were received.

On Friday morning, vaccine registrations were opened for seniors over 80. About 131,000 of them have now been registered in the system, and 24,458 have been given a vaccination time slot. There are about 441,000 seniors over 80 in the Czech Republic, who have been prioritized for vaccination.

Czech PM expects state of emergency to be extended by another month

On Monday, the Czech cabinet will ask the Chamber of Deputies for another extension of the national state of emergency due to the coronavirus epidemic, PM Andrej Babiš told reporters on Saturday. Babiš added that he expects it to be extended by another 30 days.

"The current state of emergency lasts until January 22, so the cabinet has to decide and ask [for an extension] on Monday. I expect it to be extended by another 30 days," Babiš said. The PM added that the state of emergency must be extended because of the continuing high number of coronavirus cases and related hospitalizations in the Czech Republic. He also mentioned the confirmed incidence of the British mutation of coronavirus in the Czech Republic. "That [variant] is much more contagious," he said.

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Škoda Auto not to sponsor ice hockey championship if held in Belarus

The Czech company Škoda Auto will not sponsor the 2021 ice hockey world championship if it is held in Belarus, Tomáš Kotera, head of Škoda's communications department, told CTK on the firm's behalf. Škoda Auto has been the world ice-hockey championship's partner since 1993. The last contract the company signed with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) four years ago expires this year.

"We consistently observe, protect, and promote all directives that protect human rights as the worldwide essential and general need. For that reason, Škoda Auto would step down from the position of the IIHF 2021 world ice-hockey championship's sponsor if Belarus were confirmed as its co-organiser," Kotera said.

Czech senators pay homage to Jan Palach on anniversary of his self-immolation

Charles University student Jan Palach took a step promoting freedom and seeking to lead the nation from oppression, Czech Senate Chairman Miloš Vystrčil said in remembrance on Saturday. On January 16, 1969, Palach committed suicide by self-immolation on Prague's Wenceslas Square.

Vystrčil said Palach (1948-1969) set himself on fire in an attempt to wake people up from a creeping lethargy after the August 1968 Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia. He died of severe burns three days later, on January 19, 1969. Together with three other senators, Vystrčil laid flowers and lit candles at the upper part of the Wenceslas Square. There is now a wooden cross at the location, installed in the pavement, to remember Palach's act.

Protesters with horses, coffin demonstrate outside Czech health minister's home

Dozens of people with flags, banners, horses and a coffin protested outside the house of Health Minister Jan Blatný in Jinacovice near Brno on Saturday. The protesters spoke out against the Czech government COVID-19 lockdown and its PES anti-epidemic system. The restrictions have decimated the economy and not prevented the number of infections from rising, the protest's organizer, Tomáš Franzki, told journalists.

Protesters labeled Blatny a criminal whose measures bully the population. "Mr. Blatny previously treated children. At present, our children suffer every day, and their parents suffering along with them. The children cannot go to school, cannot meet each other," stated one of the speakers, Jiří Černohorský.