Air pollution in the Moravian-Silesian region in the north-east of the country exceeded permitted levels on Sunday. All measuring stations in the region reported excessive levels of particulate matter in the air; the area of Frýdek Místek has been most affected, according to the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute. The region is one the most polluted in Europe, mainly due to heavy industry, traffic and the use of household furnaces. Meteorologists don’t expect the situation to improve in the coming days.
Up to 16 cm of fresh snow fell in the Czech Republic on Saturday, disrupting traffic in most parts of the country. Hundreds of road accidents occurred over the weekend which killed three people and left dozens of injured. Most roads continue to be covered with snow and ice on Sunday, mainly in the elevated Vysočina region; the authorities have asked drivers to take extra care or stay off the roads if they can as more snow is expected in the western part of the country. Two flights from Prague’s Václav Havel Airport have been cancelled.
The Czech Education Ministry has come up with new legislation that should curb the practice of placing disproportionately high number of Roma children in special schools, the news website idnes.cz reported on Sunday. The Czech Republic has been consistently criticized for including many Roma children into programmes for children with light mental disabilities. The new legislation will oblige school directors to report the number of pupils in such programmes, a statistics that is now not available. The ministry also wants to increase control over institutions diagnosing schoolchildren, and introduce standards to make sure only mentally disabled children are included in the programmes. The new legislation should come into force in July.
Czech hospitals have registered little interest in “above-standard” care and services since January 2012 when new legislation allowed them to offer such options for extra fees, the news agency ČTK reported on Sunday. Few patients are willing to pay more for higher-quality contact lenses, lighter plaster casts, some vaccines or another 15 items approved by the Health Ministry. Most of those willing to pay extra do so to be able to get better rooms during their hospital stays. The ministry estimates that nationwide, between 30 and 40 million crowns was collected for “above-standard” services, a small fraction of annual health care costs that amount to around 300 billion.
The Czech cinematographers’ association handed out their annual awards in Prague on Saturday. The prize for best camera in feature film went to Marek Jícha for the movie Love is Love while Petr Koblovský won the award for best camera in TV film for the film Applause. Petr Polách, who died last year, was recognized for his life-time contribution to cinematography.
The police have arrested a man who injured a doctor in a hospital in Tábor, in southern Bohemia, a spokesman said on Sunday. The incident took place on Friday, when the patient assaulted the doctor, stabbing him with a knife. The attacker then ran away but was detained a few hours later. The man, who was reported to be in poor mental state, was taken to a Prague psychiatric hospital.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych lost 6-3, 6-7, 4-6 to France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final of ATP tournament in Marseilles on Sunday. The Czech, ranked sixth in the world, failed to win his first title of the season despite earning a match point in the tie-break of the second set. Meanwhile, the leading Czech woman player, Petra Kvitova, won her first title this season after she beat Italy’s Sara Errani 6-2, 1-6, 6-1 in the final of a WTA tournament in Dubai on Saturday.
Heavy snow and icy roads have disrupted traffic across the Czech Republic. Some 15 cm of fresh snow fell in most parts of the country since Friday night, covering most minor roads as well as some sections of motorways. Hundreds of road accidents have occurred, blocking some of the major Czech motorways. Two outbound flights from Prague‘s Václav Havel Airport have been cancelled, dozens of others are delayed. The authorities in the district of Šternberk have declared a state of calamity, with a number of roads in the area closed for traffic. The authorities have asked drivers to take extra caution and keep off the roads if they can as more snow is expected over the weekend.
The organized crime unit of the Czech police has charged six people with corruption, including four members of the judiciary, Prague’s supreme attorney Lenka Bradáčová said on Saturday. Among those facing the charges of bribery, fraud, blackmail, and abuse of authority, is a judge of a Prague district court, a state prosecutor, an attorney and a junior attorney who are suspected of colluding to influence court verdicts, Ms Bradáčová said. Five of the accused have be released, one remains in police custody.
Using a DNA analysis, the police have identified a sixth victim of last weekend’s blast in an apartment block in the north Moravian town of Frenštát pod Radhoštěm, a spokeswoman said. The explosion killed three children, two women and a man; another 11 people suffered injuries. The police believe the only man who died in the explosion, a 57-year-old tenant of one of the apartments, deliberately set if off by opening a gas valve in the basement of the building. Further tests to determine what happened should be finished in several weeks’ time.