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Minister draws up emergency plans with hospital heads

Health Minister Leoš Heger met with the heads of teaching hospitals on Wednesday to discuss preparations for dealing with a mass exodus of hospital doctors after March 1. That is the date when around 3,800 hospital doctors, around a fifth of the country’s total, could leave under a campaign to improve their pay and working conditions. After the meeting, the minister said the broadest possible acute care would be offered to patients. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said a network of emergency care would be in place. The government’s State Security Council agreed on Tuesday to call in army medics and staff to deal with the situation. The cabinet is also expected to discuss the situation later on Wednesday. The government has offered to boost doctors’ pay but they say the offer falls below their expectations.

Ring smuggled Vietnamese into Europe

Prague was one of the targets of a European-wide crackdown on human traffickers. The five country clampdown covered France, Germany, the Netherlands, Britain as well as the Czech Republic. Two people out of the 35 detained in total were in the Czech Republic. The action was mounted by the Europe-wide police coordinator, Europol, on Tuesday with the main target of the action a ring smuggling Vietnamese into Europe. One route for the illegal immigrants was through the use of visas given by Czech authorities in Vietnam. Another, cheaper, route was through Moscow using false documents.

Lower house backs proposal for betting clampdown

Lawmakers in the lower house of parliament passed three proposals aimed at shaking up the country’s betting laws at their first reading. A government proposal will allow local councils to regulate whether casinos can operate on their territory. A proposal initiated by Prague City Hall allows councils for the first time to decide whether or not video terminals will be allowed. Their powers have hitherto been limited to regulation of one armed bandits. And a third proposal from the main opposition, the Social Democrats, unifies taxes on lottery firms at 22 percent in place of the four current rates.

Senate commemorates Ronald Reagan’s birth

A conference was held on Wednesday in the Czech Senate to commemorate the role of former US President Ronald Reagan in the fall of communism in Europe. Prime Minister Petr Nečas and incoming US ambassador Norman Eisen spoke at the event, organised by the deputy chairman Přemysl Sobotka and the Civic Institute to mark the 100th anniversary of Reagan’s birth. The prime minister described Reagan as the spokesman for liberty for those behind the Iron Curtain. Ronald Reagan has been widely honoured for his part in ending the communist era, having received among other things the highest award of the Czech Republic, the Order of the White Lion. He died in 2004.

Goats may have aided long life

The oldest Czech, 107-year-old Františka Kožnarová, has died at her retirement home near the country’s second city of Brno. Kožnarová was born on September 25, 1903, in the town of Velká Bíteš when the country was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. She never married and apparently had a tough life, at one time working manually at a brick works. She kept goats in her twilight years, and, according to some, goats’ milk and cheese contributed to her longevity.

Pressure should not be exerted says court

The Czech Constitutional Court has partially ruled in favour of a parent who refused to vaccinate their children. It said on Wednesday that the administration and justice system should not put pressure on such parents if their refusal was based on sound individual reasons. Vaccination of children is obligatory in the Czech Republic. The court did not question that obligation saying that it was not competent to rule on what it described as a political question.

Exhibition this year is optimistic says minister

An exhibition of prices jewels, silverware, embroidered cloth and other treasures from Russia’s Kremlin collection is likely to be put on display in Prague in 2012, Culture Minister Jiří Besser declared on Wednesday. Early hopes had been that the exhibition being carefully prepared by Czech and Russian authorities might happen this year. Mr. Besser said that target now looked optimistic. The minister is due to travel to Moscow next week to discuss details of the exhibition as well as a three year cultural exchange between the two countries. The Kremlin collection was put together by the Tsars from the 14th century onwards.

Higher taxes inflated previous inflation figure

Consumer inflation fell on an annual basis to 1.7 percent in January from December’s 2.3 percent, the Czech Statistical Office announced on Wednesday. The previous figure was boosted by higher Value Added Tax and customs duties, the office said. On a monthly basis, the inflation rate was 0.7 percent with higher housing costs the main factor in the rise. The inflation rate came in under analysts’ expectations.

Six killed in head on auto crash

Six people were killed on Wednesday morning near the central Moravian town of Prostějov after two cars crashed into each other. The victims were five adults and one child. Four people died on the spot with attempts by rescuers to save the other two failing. One of the cars, a BMW, is believed to have swerved through a crash barrier in front of the oncoming Škoda Fabia.

Sparta Prague players evade national call up in borrowed shirts

Footballers from Sparta Prague are in hot water after three players who refused to appear for their country on health grounds appeared for the team in a tournament on Tuesday night. Czech players Tomáš Pekhart and Václav Kadlec and Croatian Manuel Pamič featured in a warm up match in Spain in the shirts of other players. The Czech Republic played Croatia in a friendly on Wednesday night. A spokesman for the Czech and Moravian Football Federation said the case should go to the disciplinary committee.


Conditions over the coming days are expected to be mostly sunny with daytime highs of around six degrees Celsius but should drop to around just above freezing by Saturday.