A Czech soldier was killed in the Afghan province of Vardak on Tuesday morning when he drove over a roadside mine with his car. His Afghan interpreter was severely injured and later died in hospital. A Czech soldier in the car was also injured severely, while another escaped with only light injuries. The severely injured man was brought to the nearest military hospital. He will be transported to a larger military hospital in the country’s capital Kabul when his condition stabilizes. The family of the dead soldier has been notified. His remains will be shipped to the Czech Republic as soon as possible.
On Tuesday, news of three possible cases of a bacterial infection linked to contaminated cucumbers emerged in the Czech Republic. A Czech man who returned home from a business trip to Germany may have contracted the life-threatening bacterial infection that has lead to 14 deaths in Germany. Another woman who may have caught the infectious disease was hospitalized in Hradec Králové on Tuesday. An American tourist who travelled through Germany has also been hospitalized in Prague on suspicion of having contracted the bacterial infection. The National Reference Laboratory is currently examining samples; test results will confirm whether the Czech man has indeed contracted the mutated E.coli virus.
Agriculture Minister Ivan Fuksa has assured the public that intensified random checks of market vegetables in connection with the Spanish cucumber scare would continue. Speaking on Czech public television the minister said that at the moment it was not yet clear if the contamination of the produce had occurred in Spain, where the vegetables in question were farmed, or at the end of the distributor, a German company. Mr. Fuksa said that should someone have tampered with the vegetables, this could be labeled an act of terrorism.
After it emerged on Sunday that over 200 potentially infected Spanish cucumbers were imported to the Czech Republic, of which 120 were sold on the market, Czech authorities ordered intensified random checks. An outbreak of bacterial infections believed to be caused by E. coli bacteria in contaminated cucumbers and other vegetables have killed 14 in Germany; further outbreaks also occurred in the UK, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Health Minister Leoš Heger presented the first part of a health care system reform to the public on Tuesday. He said that a projected deficit of 10.6 billion Czech crowns in his ministry’s 2012 budget could be balanced by several changes to the current health care system. By no longer covering dental fillings and medication that costs 50 crowns or less, the state health insurance company VZP could cut its expenses.
Mr. Heger is currently finalizing the details of the reform, which was the subject of intense debate in Parliament earlier this month. He is also currently preparing a unified legislation that would be binding for all health care insurance companies, and will present three additional proposals to Parliament by June 8. Some details, such as which services will be covered by the insurer and which will have to be paid for by the patient, are still unclear. An increase in patient fees for hospitalization was approved by Parliament in early May and is currently being discussed by the parliamentary committees.
The US ambassador to the Czech Republic, Norman Eisen, said on Tuesday that he plans to support the US company Westinghouse in securing a tender for the expansion of the Czech nuclear plant Temelín. He added that he regards this as an important part of his work in the Czech Republic, and that collaboration between the US and the Czech Republic would create jobs in both countries. US President Barack Obama is also interested in the project and the potential jobs it could create, Mr. Eisen said.
Along with Westinghouse, the French company Areva and the Czech-Russian consortium Atomstrojexport are applying for the tender to expand Temelín.
Five activists and opposition members from Belarus spoke about the worsening conditions in their native country at a news conference in Prague on Tuesday. They travelled to Prague to garner support from the Czech Foreign Ministry, as well as to speak to journalists about the situation in Belarus. The five opponents of autocratic President Alexander Lukashenko described the ongoing repression by his regime and said that violations of human rights, random arrests of opposition members and unfair court trials have escalated in recent months.
The railway that connects the Czech town Želežná Ruda and the neighboring Bavarian town Markt Eisenstein, which in Czech also carries the name Želežná Ruda, will be celebrating its 20-year anniversary on Saturday. To commemorate the re-opening of the railway route, a steam train will take passengers from Plzeň’s main train station to the border town of Alžbětín. Celebrations are scheduled to kick off in the town in the evening, with a concert of Czech-Bavarian music and culinary specialties from both countries.
The railway connection between the two towns was one of the seminal events in Czech-German history after the Velvet Revolution. Before 1989, the railway had been defunct for decades and the communist government in Czechoslovakia even planned its destruction.
Four specimens of the critically endangered Prewalski's horse species will be reintroduced to their native habitat in Western Mongolia in mid-June. The project is organized by Prague Zoo, which has been breeding these horses since 1959. The four horses, three females and one male, will be brought to Mongolia by a military plane; the project will cost hundreds of thousands of crowns. Forty years ago, Prewalski’s horses were extinct in the wild; the species only survived thanks to breeding attempts in zoos such as Prague zoo, which has greatly contributed to the survival of the rare breed.
The director of Prague’s well-known Semafor theater, director and actor Jiří Suchý is preparing a swing musical which will kick off the new season at his theater in the fall. Four early performances of the musical are scheduled for June. The publisher Galen is also set to publish a book box titled Jiří Suchý 80, on occasion of Mr. Suchý’s eightieth birthday in October.
Seven people were injured in an accident on Tuesday morning, when a bus collided with a truck in the town of Suchohrdly in the Znojmo region. The injured passengers were immediately brought to the nearest hospital; four have since been released. The two drivers did not suffer any injuries. A police spokeswoman said that most likely, the truck driver caused the accident by failing to give right of way at an intersection.
Tuesday will be warm and sunny, highs are expected to reach 28 degrees Celsius; heavy thunderstorms should bring the temperatures down on Tuesday evening, with rainy weather predicted for the middle of the week.