Ten people have died of swine flu in the Czech Republic in the last week, bringing the total number of recorded deaths to 48. Over 1,200 people are now known to have contracted the H1N1 virus, a Ministry of Health spokesperson said on Wednesday. Nearly 40,000 people had been inoculated against swine flu by last Friday. Interest in vaccinations has been lower than anticipated, with some officials blaming the media for creating a false panic about the possible dangers of inoculation.
The number of pedestrians who are killed on Czech roads and streets is considerably higher than the European Union average, the news website novinky.cz reported, quoting a Europe-wide study. The EU average for pedestrian deaths is 14.6 per million inhabitants per year. In the Czech Republic, however, it is 22.8 per million. Experts blame the relatively high number of deaths on both inconsiderate drivers and reckless pedestrians. Preliminary police figures suggest this year’s death rate in the Czech Republic will show a decline, though it remains a serious problem, novinky.cz said.
The Czech Ministry of Defence has signed a contract with the truck-maker Iveco for 90 light armoured vehicles. The deal is worth CZK 3.6 billion, with the vehicles to be delivered between 2010 and 2013. The chairman of the lower house’s defence committee Jan Vidím said they were necessary to ensure the security of Czech soldiers on missions overseas. However, the committee’s deputy chair Antonín Seďa said it was wrong that there had not been a tender to supply the armoured vehicles.
Rescue workers in Prague were called out over 200 times between Tuesday night and lunchtime Wednesday after icy conditions caused many pedestrians to fall. Around 60 people suffered broken bones, spinal and head injuries, a spokesperson for the capital’s emergency services said. The ice also caused transport disruptions in many parts of the Czech Republic, with the Central Bohemia region particularly hard hit.
Only 31 percent of Czechs believe that the state should return church property confiscated during the communist regime, suggests a new opinion poll just released by the STEM agency. Sixty-eight percent are against a settlement over the property, the poll indicates. Four in every 10 respondents in the survey, which was carried out this month, said they believed the Roman Catholic Church was a ‘useful’ institution.
The Czech Ministry of Finance is holding talks with several states regarded as tax havens with a view to exchanging information on taxation, Mladá fronta Dnes reported. Prague is hoping to strike deals with the likes of the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and the Channel Islands within the next year, the newspaper said. PPF Investments, which is owned by the richest Czech Petr Kellner, is based in Jersey, while fugitive businessman Viktor Kožený’s Harvard Capital and Consulting has its headquarters in the British Virgin Islands.
The popular Czech actress Milena Dvorská has died at the age of 71. Dvorská was discovered by the great Czech actor Jan Werich when she asked him for an autograph, and stayed at his house on Prague’s Kampa during the shooting of perhaps her best known film, 1954’s Byl jednou jeden král (Once Upon a Time, There was a King). She also appeared in the television serials Pan Tau and Ulice.
A foreign musician was apparently robbed of two violas worth around CZK 60,000 (USD 32,000) after falling asleep on a train travelling from Ostrava to Prague on Monday, the news website novinky.cz reported. The man then flew from Prague to his home country only to discover there that his viola cases were empty. Police in Ostrava have appealed to the public for information.
The speed skater Martina Sáblíková has been named the 2009 Czech Sportsperson of the Year. The 22-year-old, who earned two gold medals at the Speed Skating World Championships this year, was also named sportsperson of the year in 2007. This time out Sáblíková finished in front of last year’s winner, javelin star Barbora Špotáková. Third in the poll of sports journalists was veteran jockey Josef Váňa. Martina Sáblíková’s latest success means the Czech Sportsperson of the Year award has now gone to a woman for the fourth time in succession.