Overview of Czech news: Tuesday, March 29, 2022
11:00 Prime Minister Petr Fiala has Covid
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala has reported a positive Covid test and is therefore self-isolating. The result means that Fiala will not take part in today’s meeting of the Czech Chamber of Deputies, which will vote on extending the state of emergency in the Czech Republic. Writing on Twitter, Fiala said “I had a positive Covid test this morning. Now of course I have seven days in isolation.” Fiala will work from home in the meantime.
10:30 Extinction Rebellion activists block the road to Prague
Traffic on the Nuselský Bridge in Prague came to a halt for a few minutes on Tuesday morning when a group of protesters sat down in the road and unfurled banners about abandoning fossil fuels. The protest was organized by Extinction Rebellion, an international organization that disrupts environmentally damaging urban activities to draw attention to climate change. Six people sat in three lanes, experiencing verbal abuse from the drivers. Within minutes, the police had dragged the protesters off the road.
10:00 Disney+ will launch in the Czech Republic on June 14
Disney+ will launch in the Czech Republic and Slovakia on June 14, 2022. The streaming platform will feature its own productions as well as a rich archive of Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and National Geographic films, TV series and documentaries. A subscription to Disney+ will cost 199 CZK per month, but it will be possible to buy a 12-month subscription for the price of ten, or 1,990 CZK in total. A Disney+ account will allow up to seven independent profiles and allow simultaneous streaming on four separate devices.
Health Covid has seen health care costs rise by 30%
Public health expenditure in the Czech Republic increased by 30% in 2021 compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019, reaching a total of CZK 405 billion. The data comes from an analysis commission that provides information to guide negotiations on public health financing for the following year.
Overall health care costs in 2023 are projected by the commission at CZK 432 billion, an increase of nearly CZK 30 billion over last year’s spending. They expect the state to cut health insurance payments for certain groups, including refugees, about 500,000 of whom are expected to arrive in the Czech Republic this year.
Ukraine Czechia donates chemical warfare equipment to Ukraine
The Czech Republic donated protective equipment for use in the event of a chemical weapons attack on Ukraine, including protective masks, clothing, detection and decontamination systems. The Czech State Office for Nuclear Safety responded to Ukraine’s request for help from members of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, fearing that Russia could use such weapons during its invasion from Ukraine.
The Nuclear Safety Office cooperated with the National Institute of Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Protection on the Ukrainian request. The donated material, worth nearly CZK 360,000, was handed over to the Ukrainian Embassy in Prague on Sunday ahead of shipment to Ukraine.
Politics The Czech Communist Party stops publishing a daily
The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, the communist political party in the Czech Republic that was not elected to parliament in the October elections, will stop publishing its daily Haló noviny at the end of April. A party spokesman said the paper currently has a circulation of around 6,000.
The party will instead issue a weekly publication. The newspaper’s downgrade is another sign of the Communist Party’s waning influence in the Czech Republic in recent years; his failure to enter the Czech parliament for the first time since the Velvet Revolution in 1989 was the culmination of years of dwindling support.
Media Czech radio warns hosts after controversial broadcast
National broadcaster Czech Radio will provide instructions to its moderators on how to handle crisis situations after a controversial appearance by a military analyst during a live broadcast on March 18. Martin Koller was invited to a current affairs show as a last-minute replacement for another guest, and the producers failed to note that his past statements about the war in Ukraine had been misleading and untrue.
During the Czech radio broadcast, Koller claimed that the Ukrainian army was acting similarly to the Islamic State group during the conflict in Syria, using civilians as human shields and allowing men to flee the country to avoid the fights. Koller also claimed that Ukrainian refugees are in fact economic migrants with no intention of returning to Ukraine. Moderators did not challenge Koller for his misleading statements.
Business Tobacco sales increased in the Czech Republic last year
Philip Morris ČR, a manufacturer and seller of cigarettes and other tobacco products, reported an increase in sales of 5.5% to a total of CZK 18.867 billion in 2021. Sales figures do not include excise duties and VAT. However, the company’s earnings edged down 0.3% year-on-year and the company’s combined market share fell 1.1%.
The reason for the decline in profits and market share was a 3% decrease in the share of conventional cigarette sales, caused by the switch of smokers to smokeless alternatives. An increase was seen in the sales of HEETS tobacco cartridges and IQOS e-cigarette devices, which have a significantly lower level of harmful substances than conventional cigarettes. The total number of e-cigarette users in the Czech Republic and Slovakia increased last year by 140,000 to 770,000. Of this total, around 560,000 quit smoking conventional cigarettes.