The state-owned insurance company, the VZP - under forced administration - has begun sending medical facilities overdue payments worth 5.3 billion crowns, the equivalent of around 230 million US dollars. The troubled insurer had been paying doctors and facilities up to 50 days late for clients covered by VZP insurance. According to the Health Ministry, the situation should improve with payments reduced to 15 or 16 days. The move comes at a time Czech doctors have been planning protest strikes. On Thursday, the General Practitioners' Association's deputy head Jan Jelinek said that the association would now consider whether or not to end strike alert.
The head of the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority, Jakub Sebesta, has revealed statistics showing that 18 different supermarket chains and other retailers in the Czech Republic received fines worth a total of 19 million crowns, or 800,000 US dollars in 2005. According to Mr Sebesta, the worst offender was the Ahold group, operating the Albert and Hypernova chains, fined a total of 7.6 million crowns. Ahold was followed by Julius Meinl, at 2 million, and Carrefour at 1.8 million crowns. The most common offences included improper packaging or marking of foodstuffs, as well as perishables being left on the shelf past the due date.
A record number of Czech sportsmen & women - 82 in all - will compete in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy - four more than competed at Salt Lake City in 2002. Czechs are hoping to do well in an array of different sports at the Games, which start on February 10th. Hopefuls include Jakub Janda in ski jumping, Katerina Neumanova in cross-country skiing, and members of the Czech hockey team including Tomas Vokoun, Dominik Hasek, and Jaromir Jagr.
Specialists have reported that following a chemical spill releasing
cyanide into the Czech Republic's Labe River (Elbe) last week,
concentration of the toxin in the river's waters has continued to drop.
The latest water samples have shown significantly lower concentrations
of cyanide further along the river, with tests also revealing that high
levels of concentrated cyanide have not made it as far as the Czech
Republic's northern Hrensko and Decin regions. Experts are looking into
the causes of the accident, which took place at the Lucebni Zavody
chemical plant last week.
At least nine tons of fish killed by the cyanide were removed from the Labe's waters. Damages have been estimated at around 2 million crowns, the equivalent of 84,000 dollars US.
Czech figure skater Olga Prokuronova is unhurt following a nasty fall at the European Championships on Wednesday. The Czech pairs champion and Russian-born skater crashed to the ice head-first when her partner, Karel Stefl, lost his balance. Prokuronova lay on the ice for several seconds before being helped to her feet. Hospital tests later confirmed she had suffered no serious injury.
A January poll by the STEM agency suggests that the ruling Social Democrats have narrowed the opposition Civic Democrats' lead in voter preferences to 1.4 percent from over 5 percent in December. According to the poll, the Social Democrats would get 27.2 percent and the Civic Democrats 28.6 percent of the vote. The opposition Communists would get over 13 percent of votes and the coalition Christian Democrats would get almost 7 percent if elections were held tomorrow. Parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic are scheduled for mid-June.
The manufacturer of the Czech Republic's defect-plagued express trains, Alstom, promised on Wednesday to fix recurrent problems that have kept locomotives out of action. The vice president of the French-based company Alstom, Terence Williams, said on Wednesday that all five of the high-speed Pendolino trains owned by Czech Railways would be repaired. At one stage last week, four of the trains were out of service because of software problems. Transport Minister Milan Simonovsky warned Alstom on Tuesday that the trains would be returned to the manufacturer for good unless the problems were solved.
Czech international Petr Cech has been named the best goalkeeper in the world by the prestigious International Federation of Football History and Statistics. Cech, who is 23 and comes from Plzen, set a number of records in his first season with Chelsea, and helped the club win the English Premiership.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, who is on a three-day visit to India, has met the Indian President Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee among others, to discuss primarily economic cooperation between the two countries. Mr Paroubek said on Wednesday that India was interested mainly in complete plants and military materiel. He also said that the Czech Republic, or the former Czechoslovakia, was perceived positively in India, as a number of companies, for instance Bata, have been present in the country since the 1930s.
The town assembly in Lety, south Bohemia, has decided to ask the National Party to remove the stone monument it has built on town-owned land without permission. The small right-wing party said it wanted to unveil the memorial on the site of a former WWII internment camp for Romanies on Saturday. A pig farm, built in the 1970s, is currently located on the site. After years of controversy and a reprimand issued by the European Parliament, the Czech government last year pledged to relocate the pig farm and build a memorial in Lety commemorating the country's Romanies that perished in the Holocaust.