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World

Czechs get fourth health minister since start of pandemic

  • The EU member state of 10.7 million people now reports around 5,000 new cases daily compared to 15,000 a month ago.
07 Apr, 2021

PRAGUE: The Czech Republic has its fourth health minister since the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak after his predecessor was sacked Wednesday despite a decline in infections in the badly-hit central European country.

The move comes as daily Covid cases are falling following weeks when the Czech Republic topped AFP's global tally of cases and deaths per capita based on official data.

The EU member state of 10.7 million people now reports around 5,000 new cases daily compared to 15,000 a month ago.

In total it has seen over 1.5 million cases and more than 27,300 deaths.

President Milos Zeman appointed Petr Arenberger, the head of a Prague hospital, to replace Jan Blatny, who had come under fire from both Zeman and populist Prime Minister Andrej Babis.

Zeman told Arenberger to do his job "in the interest of the Czech nation, its health and lives" at a ceremony in Prague.

Zeman suggested one of the reasons behind Blatny's dismissal was his reluctance to approve the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine unless it is first cleared by the European Medicines Agency.

Blatny, a paediatric haematologist, became minister in October, replacing epidemiologist Roman Prymula, who was sacked after being caught violating his own anti-Covid restrictions in a closed Prague restaurant.

Prymula himself was appointed just a month earlier after the previous minister quit as the second Covid-19 wave mounted.

The recent slowdown in daily infection growths led the Czech government Monday to announce the reopening of some shops, zoos as well as schools for children aged six-11 as of April 12.

The government will also drop a curfew and open borders between districts from the same date.

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