The Minister for Labour and Social Affairs Michaela Marksová says that a Czech mother in Norway whose nine-month-old seriously ill baby was taken away by the child social services, the Barnevernet, has turned down an offer of help by the Czech state. The Czech Republic had offered to represent or jointly represent the parent in dealings with the social services. The mother previously approached the ministry in mid-November, providing some documentation but had failed to reply now. Meanwhile, she asked the ministry not to comment on any details related to the case. Barnevernet’s policy stirred fresh anger in the Czech Republic for removing the nine-month-old baby from the care of the mother and Norwegian father in late December. They said the parents had not sufficiently bonded with the infant, who has a rare genetic condition and is in hospital awaiting a kidney transplant.
The Czech government on Monday approved a draft directive of the education and interior ministries aimed to prevent cheating on Czech language tests by foreign nationals applying for permanent residency. The directive follows an amendment to existing legislation. Private language schools, where the greatest number of problems were found, are to be stripped of the right to organise future tests which are to be supervised by the Czech School Inspection. The change was prompted by criminal proceedings taken against several employees of language schools suspected of having secured positive results for foreigners in exchange for bribes in early 2014. As a result, foreigners’ police representatives will also be present at future exams.
The police are searching for a 47-year-old man suspected of purposely spreading the HIV virus since 2013. Police have so far confirmed that in that time frame the individual had sexual relations with 15 adult men and a minor. Two of them are HIV positive. The police found some 2,000 names in the suspect’s cell phone; they are asking that anyone who had sexual contact with the man to undergo tests for HIV/AIDS. The suspect, Zdeněk Pfiefer, is being sought as a fugitive; the police have reason to believe he may be hiding abroad.
Czech football goalkeeper Petr Čech helped his club Arsenal clinch what many pundits saw as a key point against Stoke at the weekend. The clubs drew 0:0 but as a result Arsenal are at the top of the table. After the match, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger called Čech’s goalkeeping “outstanding”. The clean sheet was Čech’s 10th of the season and earned him the Man of the Match award.
The Czech Republic has seen a rise in the number of flu cases, up by two percent compared to last week. The number of registered respiratory illnesses, including flu-related, is 1,033 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the Czech News Agency. Sixteen cases are serious and three deaths were flu-related. Jan Kynčl, the head of the State Health Institute said there was still time for individuals to get preventive flu shots. The number of flu cases could hit epidemic levels at the end of January, ČTK said.
The munitions site in Vrbětice, in the Zlín area, has thus far cost the Czech state 348.1 million crowns, the Czech News Agency reported on Monday, adding that the preliminary total included the regular monthly salaries of firefighters, soldiers and police officers who had secured the site. The final amount will rise even higher for the cost of a lengthy clean-up by pyrotechnics experts. The depot saw two massive explosions in the autumn of 2014 in which two people died. Scattered unexploded munitions, as well as reported additional random explosions, rendered the entire site unstable. It was closed off and tonnes of remaining munitions were gradually shipped to a newly reopened depot.
More than 500 people weathered sub-zero temperatures on Monday, some of them waiting in line since Sunday at 9 PM, to line up at Vysočany’s regional bureau to register for furnace subsidies. Jihlava will divvy up almost 239 million crowns which should help replace some 1,600 home furnaces. It is the first time that the region has offered the subsidies. The bureau said it would process around 100 applications per hour.
The Municipal Court for the district of Prague 1 has issued a distraint order against Prague City Hall for having allegedly failed to respect an earlier court ruling ordering the city to allow the firm eMoneyServices access to the Opencard system. The news was confirmed by EMS spokesman Martin Opatrný on Monday. The company earlier filed a legal suit against Prague for 60 million crowns. City Hall has not responded yet. The city has been legally at odds with EMS ever since Prague declined to renew a contract on the Opencard system, charging the company’s asking price was too high. The Opencard is a multi-purpose card used primarily as a transit pass in the Czech capital; the original system dates back to the era of former Prague mayor Pavel Bém and was heavily criticised for a number of questionable contracts and a high sticker price. The system has thus far cost the city 1.35 billion crowns.
Prague’s Václav Havel International Airport registered over 12 million arrivals and departures in 2015. This constitutes 7.9 percent year-on year-increase in passenger traffic, the highest increase in the past decade. The number of passengers should grow further in 2016 when a number of new regular long-distance flights will connect Prague and China, and Prague and North America, and the Emirates carrier will start using Airbus A380, the world's biggest transport aircraft, on its line to Prague.
An investigation into the crash of a Czech military helicopter during a NATO training exercise in Spain late last year has concluded that it was caused by pilot error. The pilot responsible has been grounded and is being investigated by the military police. The helicopter crashed near Zaragoza, making a hard landing and turning over. Five soldiers suffered light injuries in the accident.