The country is on the threshold of a flu epidemic, with a number of regions already having crossed the threshold in the past week. Many hospitals have closed their doors to visitors in order to protect patients. Three people are reported to have died of flu-related complications and dozens of patients have had to be hospitalized. Only around five percent of Czechs get vaccinated against the flu.
The Czech art market has seen a record-breaking year, with the overall turnover at Czech auction houses exceeding 1.2 billion crowns, the ctk news agency reports. Compared to last year this is an increase by 331 million crowns, or 36 percent. The billion crown mark was crossed due to a number of exceptional sales at auctions at home and abroad. A painting by František Kupka broke the Czech art auction record, selling for 62 million crowns (around 2.29 million euros) at an auction in November and another painting by the same artist also set an international record, when it sold in Sweden for nearly 70 million crowns. Auctions of works by Oskar Kokoschka, Josef Šíma, Josef Čapek and Jan Zrzavý also contributed to the record turnover.
Czechs can look forward to a few dozen new public Wi-Fi connections next year, Czech Radio reported. An EU funded project to increase the number of public Wi-Fi connections around the block was approved by the EU Council of Ministers earlier this month. In the next three years, the EU should contribute 120 million euros towards this endeavour. Around 40 new public Wi-Fi connections are expected to appear in the Czech Republic next year, mainly on public squares, at railway and bus stations and other highly frequented places.
Czech and British scientists have developed an advanced, powerful laser to be used in plane manufacturing and other fields. In mid-December the laser achieved its full design performance, breaking the 1kW barrier, the first time that a high energy DPSSL system has achieved such a result. Further tests and fine tuning will continue in January. A detailed report on the laser’s parameters will be published at a press conference at the HiLASE Laser Development Centre early next year.
Prague’s Václav Havel Airport this year serviced a record 13 million passengers, the company said on its web page on Friday. Last year the airport handled 12 million passengers from around the world. The airport was expended a few years ago to meet growing demand. Many airlines have newly established flights to the Czech capital and others have increased the number of Prague-bound flights. Today passengers can fly from Prague directly to 105 cities in 39 counties. Like other airports in Europe, Václav Havel Airport has significantly stepped up security measures in connection with the heightened threat of terrorism.
President Miloš Zeman and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka are to meet for their traditional New Year’s lunch on Monday, the Office of the President reported. At these meetings the debate usually revolves around the government’s performance and priorities in the coming year. President Zeman recently praised the work of the Sobotka government, highlighting its economic results, but criticized it for inadequate investments at a time of economic growth. The president also criticized the two strongest parties in government, the Social Democrats and ANO, for political squabbles that lowered the credibility of the administration. The president will also be meeting separately with the speakers of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.
In football, Czech manager Ivan Hašek has signed a contract until the end of the season with Emirates Club, a team in the United Arab Emirates. Hašek was sacked as manager of rival club Al Fujairah in March. His new club is hovering just above the relegation zone. Hašek was formerly chairman of the Czech football association and coach for the national team.
In ice hockey, the Czech team lost 2:3 after extra time against Denmark in the World Junior Championships being hosted in Montreal, Canada. The Czechs twice went ahead in the game at the start. The second close loss in a row following defeat against Switzerland leaves the Czech team on five points and it is uncertain whether they will proceed in the tournament.
The former coach of the Czech national team and of Viktoria Plzeň, Pavel Vrba, has quit his job as head coach of the Russian league side Anji, according to reports from the CTK agency citing those close to him. Vrba took the job at the end of the European Championships in June in which the Czech side failed to proceed from the group stage. Anji are currently in 11th place in the 16-club top league. The club announced a deal with a new owner, Osman Kadiev, on Wednesday in which he promised to take the club to new levels and develop football in Dagestan. It has 20 point, half the total of the league leader Spartak.