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Measles cases on the rise despite mandatory vaccinations

While last year 142 cases of measles were detected in the Czech Republic, already 182 cases had been detected as of December 4, according to the State Health Institute.

Doctors warn that although it is mandatory to vaccinate children against measles, many are not. The disease is preventable through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine.

The highly contagious, airborne disease experienced an unpresented resurgence in 2017 in the Americas, Eastern Mediterranean and Europe, according to the World Health Organization.

It can cause debilitating or fatal complications, including encephalitis (an infection that leads to swelling of the brain), severe diarrhoea and dehydration, pneumonia, ear infections and permanent vision loss.

Respekt: EU budget chief suggests ways for Czech PM to avoid conflict of interest

EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger has recommended three ways for Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) to avoid a conflict of interest as regards the Agrofert concern, the investigative weekly Respekt reports.

Oettinger said in a letter, published in part by Respekt, that Babiš should either take sever his and his family’s ties to Agrofert, which the billionaire businessman founded; ensure that Agrofert ceases to accept EU subsidies; or refrain from taking part in some decisions on allocating funds.

Last week, the European Parliament approved a resolution calling on the European Commission to suspend all EU subsidies to companies belonging to Agrofert until the question of whether he de facto retains control over it is settled.

Meanwhile, the European Commission has announced it will send a team of auditors to the Czech Republic to look into the distribution of EU subsidies from 2007 until the present day.

Report: Czech Muslim community moderate, well integrated

The Muslim community in the Czech Republic is moderate and well integrated, but attacks by some politicians could lead to some being radicalised, the Ministry of Interior says in its annual report for 2017 on extremism.

Extracts of the report were published on Sunday on iRozhlas, the online portal of Czech Radio. It says the migration wave of 2015/2016 did not change the character of religious communities here because few Muslims remained in the Czech Republic.

However, police have also registered efforts by foreigners in the Czech Republic to spread a radical interpretation of Islam. The report in particular spoke of persons from Central Asia and the Caucasus in this respect.

Jobs database for former soldiers, military veterans launched

The Interior Ministry the and Union of Industry and Transport have created a job database to help veterans of the armed forces find work in the private sector after ending their military service.

Defense Minister Lubomír Metnar said soldiers will have direct access to a database of more than 11,000 companies and applications. An estimated 800 soldiers leave the army every year, iRozhlas reports.

The Czech Army already offers exiting soldiers retraining courses for example to become professional drivers, social service workers and accountants.

Union of Industry and Transport head Jaroslav Hanák says there are many opportunities for soldiers in the transport, energy and automotive industry.

Czech scouts bring Light of Bethlehem from Austria

A group of Czech girl and boy scouts crossed into the country from Austria on Saturday evening with traditional Light of Bethlehem lanterns.

The flame had arrived in the Austrian city of Linz from Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The scouts brought it by train to the Czech city of České Budějovice.

In the coming days before Christmas, the lanterns will be taken to all corners of the Czech Republic for people to light their own candles, with large ceremonies planned at the cathedrals in Brno, Prague, and Olomouc.

The tradition of the Light of Bethlehem first appeared in the Czech Republic after the fall of the communist regime in 1989.

Actor Jiří Dvořák wins StarDance, finále draws 1.7 mn viewers

The finále of Czech Television’s StarDance competition drew 1.7 million viewers, about 100,000 more than the previous installment of the reality TV style celebrity dance contest, held in 2016.

Actor Jiří Dvořák won the contest with his partner, professional dance instructor Lenka Nora Návorková, defeating fellow thespian Pavla Tomicová, who was paired with Slovak dancer and choreographer Marek Dědík.

StarDance is based on the BBC programme Dancing with the Stars, launched in 2004. This year’s Czech contest was the ninth installment.

Weather outlook

Monday should be mostly cloudy throughout the country with freezing rain or light snowfall likely especially in west Bohemia. Daytime highs should range between -2 and 2 degrees Celsius.