Czech hospitals should this week start getting a clearer picture of the crisis they face due to mass resignations of doctors after the failure of a nine-month campaign to win better pay and conditions. The deputy head of the doctors’ chamber says around 3,800 doctors have prepared their resignations, many of them leaving to work abroad. Resignation letters should be delivered this week and take effect at the latest by the start of March. Hospitals are already preparing to offer a skeleton service because specialists such as anaesthetists and surgeons are no longer available. No meetings between doctors’ representatives and the Ministry of Health are planned so far this week to avert the mass resignations.
Police and customs officers have announced one of their biggest hauls of bootleg alcohol in recent years. They swooped on a gang operating out of the eastern city of Ostrava finding a lorry filled with around 20,000 litres of spirits with another 10,000 litres in a nearby hall and garages. Seven people were detained with three remaining in custody. Customs officers say the state would have lost around 6.0 million crowns if the entire consignment of bootleg alcohol had gone on sale. A large amount of a special disinfectant used to make the alcohol was shipped across the border from Slovakia for further processing in Ostrava with it later going on sale throughout Moravia.
Hotel prices for the New Year in Prague have been upped around threefold compared with normal according to a survey by the French travel website trivago.fr. Average prices of around 77 euros a night have climbed to around 215 euros for New Year’s eve as hotels offer tailor made celebrations and cash in on the event. The price rises for Prague, of 179 percent compared with December 24, appear to be among the highest in Europe, outstripping the high increases in cities such as Edinburgh and Vienna, according to the site.
Economic confidence rose in December compared with November and the same month in 2009 according to figures released on Monday by the Czech Statistical Office. The month on month index was 3.6 points higher than in November with confidence boosted both amongst consumers and companies. Year on year, the index is up 13,5 points compared with December 2009. In spite of rising confidence levels throughout the year, the index is still below the 100 point level of 2005. Analysts say Czech optimism has been fuelled by the continuing strong performance of the German economy.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas wants to overhaul the Research and Development Council, the body charged with monitoring, planning and advising on the share out of research spending in the country according to Monday’s edition of the newspaper Lidové noviny. The paper says the prime minister has launched talks about what steps to take with the Education Minister and is considering sacking the entire board of the council. He is reported to be unhappy about the quality of the council’s work and leadership. Experts have cautioned against sacking the entire board warning that this would be too drastic a step to take.
Czech travel agents this year sold around 2.25 million trips, a 7.0 percent rise compared with 2009, according to the Association for Czech Tour Operators and Travel Agencies. The rise was accounted for by short distance coach trips to popular destinations such as Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. Provision of long distance flights and packages dropped by 15 percent compared with 2009, partly because of higher prices and also disruption to flights caused by ash from an Icelandic volcano and disturbances in Greece. Overall, the turnover of agencies and operators was flat compared with a year earlier according to the association.
President Václav Klaus tops the trust polls for Czech politicians according to the December survey by the CVVM agency. Of those interviewed, 65 percent they had confidence in the president. The next best placed politician was Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg with 43 percent and chairman of the Constitutional Court Pavel Rychetský and lower house speaker Miroslava Němcová, both with 36 percent. Acting head of the opposition Social Democrats Bohuslav Sobotka stood at 35 percent with Prime Minister Petr Nečas on 33 percent. The biggest faller was leader of the Public Affairs party Radek John who is now trusted by 29 percent compared with 48 percent in May.
A smog alert has been called off in the heavily industrialized north-eastern parts of the country following a significant improvement in air-quality. All sixteen monitoring stations in the region reported that the level of pollutants was well below the permitted norm. The smog alert was called last Wednesday triggering an order for the regions’ biggest polluters to scale down production. The authorities likewise put the improvement down to the Christmas break. Air pollution in the region is a long-standing problem and has been proven to have adversely affected the health of the population, particularly in the rise of asthma and allergies among children.
Sparta Prague ice hockey team kick lost the first of their games in the international Spengler Cup in Switzerland on Monday. The sole Czech team went down 3:4 against Servette Geneva. The Swiss were looking for a comeback from their 1:3 defeat against St. Petersburg, Russia, on Sunday. In the other group, Davos beat Spartak Moscow 4:2. The finals of the competition will be held on December 31.
Forecasters are already predicting that this December will turn out to be the coldest for 14 years and could even be colder than in 1996. Temperatures so far are already on average 5.0 degrees Celsius below the average. But the forecasters say that the extreme temperatures of 1969 will not be beaten.