New Year’s celebrations are due to take place on Prague’s Old Town Square where Prague City Hall has prepared a special programme starting at 2pm in the afternoon. People also traditionally gather on Wenceslas Square for midnight fireworks followed by a street party. Some 200 officers will out to maintain law and order in the city centre and traffic restrictions will be in place on Wenceslas Square after 4pm. In line with a special regulation relating to the recent spate of methanol poisonings, street vendors will not be allowed to sell spirits. The metro will run for an hour later than usual closing down at 1am on January 1st. Prague City Hall has scheduled a New Year’s fireworks display for 6pm on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has refused an invitation from President Klaus to attend the traditional New Year’s lunch at Lány Chateau. No reason has been given for the refusal. Commentators note that relations between the president and prime minister have been increasingly strained in recent months. The president’s office has confirmed that the head of state will meet with the speakers of the lower and upper house of Parliament on Thursday. President Klaus’ second term in office is due to expire in March.
Two patients who were admitted to Prague’s General Teaching Hospital with swine flu in the past 48hours are reported to be in stable condition. Their condition is complicated by pneumonia and both remain in intensive care. One of the patients is a pregnant woman. It is not clear where they contracted the virus. Although the authorities say there is no reason for undue concern they have urged high-risk groups to get a flu vaccine which comprises the H1N1 virus.
Three people were injured in a collision involving two trams near Prague’s Hradčanská metro station in the early hours of Monday. One of the drivers allegedly failed to brake in time as he approached a tram stop ramming into a stationary vehicle in front of him. One of the injured suffered a broken leg, the other two had lighter injuries. The accident slowed down traffic in the vicinity since firemen were called to dislodge the trams.
Police statistics show a decrease in the number of fatalities on Czech roads in 2012. According to data released by the traffic police 679 people were killed on Czech roads in the course of the past year, which is 28 less than in 2011 and 74 less than in 2010. According to the head of traffic police Leoš Tržil the positive trend is being attributed to tougher road regulations introduced two years ago. The most frequent cause of accidents is still speeding and drink-driving.
The health authorities have issued a warning to the public to exercise extreme caution in manipulating with fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Every year at this time dozens of people end up in emergency rooms with serious injuries resulting from mishaps with fireworks. Injuries range from severe burns to loss of limbs, often caused by unsafe or home-made fireworks.
Skiers in the Šumava Mountains will symbolically see the New Year in with a torch ride down one of the mountain’s steepest slopes starting at 5,30 this evening. The night’s celebrations will culminate with an open-air party at the bottom of the slope with bonfires, food, drink, live music and a fireworks display at midnight. This popular tradition dates back to 1948.
A Czech mountaineer who was gravely injured in an avalanche in the Austrian Alps on Sunday remains in critical condition. The mountaineer remained trapped under the snow for close to 30 minutes and was unconscious when rescue workers found him. Although some members of the group dug their own way out after the avalanche hit and managed to rescue three others they had trouble locating the Czech mountaineer. The rescue operation was further complicated due to a poor mobile phone signal in the vicinity.
Czech goalie Petr Čech, who plays for London football club Chelsea, will undergo a scan on Monday to determine the extent of an injury suffered in the club’s match against Everton on Sunday. The goalkeeper played only in the first half after suffering pain in his groin shortly before the break. Chelsea won the game 2-1 and remains in third spot in the Premier League, behind Manchester United and Manchester City.
The Czech junior hockey team won its second straight game at the U20 Championships on Sunday defeating Latvia by a score of 4:2. The game was close throughout: the Czechs twice led by one goal, both times Latvia squared the game. The Czech squad was only able to jump ahead some six minutes from the end of the 3rd period. Three of the team’s goals came on the powerplay. In order to reach the knockout quarterfinals stage the Czechs need – at worst – a draw with Switzerland.