Czechs are unable to buy flu medication in pharmacies across the country
after a new computer system collapsed in trial operation. In line with a
new amendment to the law which took effect on May 1st, flu medicine
containing pseudoefedrine such as Coldrex or Stopgrip, is no longer
available freely over the counter and will only be sold to people in small
amounts on the basis of a health insurance card and ID. The move is an
attempt to curb abuse of the substance in the production of the illegal
street drug pervitin.
However the new law has created a few problems. It involves putting personal data into a central evidence system and some pharmacies will not be selling flu medicine at all for fear of violating the privacy law. The matter is being investigated by the Office for Protection of Private Data.
Prague’s Motol hospital is working on a new vaccine that may be able to halt cancer-growth, the daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Saturday. The vaccine can be used to treat melanoma, leukaemia, cancer of the bowel and ovaries and does not have negative side-effects such as chemotherapy, the paper writes. The vaccine must be tailor-made for each patient from his own cells and tumour. Czech immunologists have been working on the vaccine for ten years and have now requested clinical tests. The prestigious medical journal Clinical Immunology has published a report on the discovery.
The organizers of a techno-party near the town of Květná, western Bohemia, have been ordered to end the event by 8pm on Saturday. The three day party attended by 5,000 people is the biggest event of its kind ever held in the area and the locals have been complaining about excessive noise. A hygiene officer called in by the police to measure noise levels in the nearby town concluded that the noise pollution levels were way off limits.
The interim prime minister, Jan Fischer, has said he is willing to discuss
the proposed cabinet line-up after shocking political leaders with his own
choice of candidates. Mr. Fischer was selected for the post of interim
prime minister under an agreement between the two strongest parties in
Parliament who expected to push through their own candidates for various
ministerial posts. However Mr. Fischer deviated from the planned scenario
and the list of candidates which he presented to President Vaclav Klaus on
Friday included several unexpected names, the most controversial of which
appears to be the nominee for finance minister Jaroslav Míl.
The outgoing prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, said he was surprised by the move and indicated that the proposed line-up would not win a vote of confidence in Parliament. Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek likewise criticized the proposed line-up, saying he expected further negotiations. President Klaus has not commented on the development.
The Fisher cabinet was expected to take over on May 8th and lead the country to early elections in October. It is not clear if this unexpected hurdle will delay its appointment.
The Czech health authorities on Friday ruled out another suspected case of swine flu, twenty more people are being tested. The authorities have tightened security measures at Prague’s Ruzyně Airport and people arriving from Mexico now have to undergo thermal screening before being allowed to enter the country.
In a related development, EU health ministers on Thursday rejected a French call to suspend all EU flights to Mexico, leaving it up to individual member states to decide on whether or not to introduce restrictive measures. Czech Health Minister Daniela Filipiová, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the 27 member block, said she considered the EU to be well prepared for a possible pandemic.
Four Czech military fighter jets have started policing the airspace of the Baltic countries within a rotating NATO security operation. The four Gripen planes will police the airspace of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, who do not have the means to protect their airspace and rely on NATO allies for assistance. In September the Czech Gripens will be replaced by Danish F-16 fighter jets. This is the first time that the Czech Republic’s air force has been deployed in a foreign operation since the end of World War II.
Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko will not take part in the EU’s
Eastern Partnership summit due to be held in Prague on May 7th, the CTK
news agency reported on Friday, citing a source close to the Czech EU
presidency. According to the source, Belarus will be represented by Deputy
Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko. President Lukashenko has come under fire
for his authoritarian style of rule and there were mixed feelings about
whether Belarus should be invited to the summit. President Klaus made it
clear that he would not be welcome at Prague Castle if he did arrive.
The Eastern Partnership scheme aims to forge closer ties between the EU and six former Soviet republics, a plan that has angered Moscow. It aims to accelerate political and economic reforms in the region in return for EU support and concessions of trade and travel. While the Czech EU presidency has championed the project some of the old EU member states remain lukewarm about the idea.
May Day rallies were held in many parts of the country on Friday. The Communists and Social Democrats held separate rallies to mark Labour Day while the centre-right Civic Democrats traditionally met on Prague’s Petrin Hill for a happening aimed to attract predominantly young people who go to Petrin to mark the Czech version of St. Valentine’s Day on May 1st. Far-right groups and anarchists also held gatherings, the biggest taking place in the Moravian city of Brno where police were out in force for the event.
As of May 1st Czechs will no longer be able to buy flu medication containing pseudoefedrine over the counter. In line with a new amendment to the law flu medicine such as Coldrex or Stopgrip will only be sold to people in small amounts on the basis of a health insurance card and ID. The move is an attempt to curb abuse of the substance in the production of the illegal street drug pervitin. However it involves putting personal data into a central evidence system and some pharmacies will not be selling flu medicine at all for fear of violating the privacy law. The matter is being investigated by the Office for Protection of Private Data.