Tests have confirmed a new case of BSE in the Czech Republic, the fifth incidence since the dreaded disease appeared. A spokesman for the agriculture ministry said that the infected animal was from a farm in Dolni Lazany near Trebic and that security measures were being taken. This latest positive BSE test comes after a seven months break.
The Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has expressed support for a common European defense and foreign policy. Addressing an audience at the Johan Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt Mr. Spidla said that while Europe had become an economic power, foreign policy and defense wise it was a midget. A European defense force should help to restore balance within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Czech Prime Minister said. He appealed for European unity pointing out that in the present day no European country was in a position to defend its interests alone.
In an interview for the Reuters news agency, the Czech Prime Minister said his government would welcome some weakening of the crown and called for the Central Bank to cut interest rates. "We are doing everything to keep exchange rate swings in check - and the 16 percent appreciation that took place last year is simply too much for our exports" Mr. Spidla said during his visit to Frankfurt. Asked when the Czech Republic would be ready to join the common euro currency the Czech prime minister said in 2009.
The Thai foreign minister has given two Czech prisoners in Thailand fresh hope of coming home. Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said at press conference in Prague on Tuesday that, under an agreement on the mutual exchange of prisoners signed in 2002, two Czechs who are serving 50 year sentences for drug smuggling could be sent back to the Czech Republic within a matter of months. Responding to journalists' questions about SARS, the minister predicted that the disease could be completely contained within two months. He said he based his confidence on the results of last week's emergency meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Bangkok, at which officials hammered out SARS control measures.
An autopsy performed on a man who died of pneumonia at the Brno Faculty Hospital over the weekend suggests that he was not infected with SARS. It is almost certain that the cause of death was not SARS, a hospital spokesman said. One further test is needed to provide a definitive answer and the results of that test should be made public on Wednesday. In recent weeks hospitals in Prague, Brno and other cities have quarantined and examined at least 26 people for SARS. None tested positive for the disease. At present there is one patient in isolation in Prague, awaiting test results.
Czech Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik has visited the city of Basra in southern Iraq where work is underway on the setting up of a Czech field hospital. The team of Czech doctors and nurses are already working in makeshift conditions, providing medical care to several hundred patients a day. The hospital should be fully operational by mid May. Speaking to journalists later the minister said he was shocked by the plight of the locals and proud of the work of the Czech field hospital team. "They are professionals of which the Czech Republic can be truly proud" the minister said.
Wednesday is expected to bring partly cloudy to overcast skies with rain in the north-western and eastern parts of the Czech Republic. Day temperatures between 21 and 28 degrees Celsius.
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