Thu. May 26th, 2022

The Czech president, Milos Zeman, has distanced himself from other officials and has sworn in the country’s new prime minister, Petr Fiala, following last month’s parliamentary elections.

Sir. Zeman, was separated from Mr Fiala and the other officials by transparent panels during the ceremony at the presidential palace in Lany, west of Prague, because the president tested positive for COVID-19 last week and has to isolate himself.

The country has faced a record-breaking increase in a new wave of COVID-19 infections.

Its new daily rise hit a record high of nearly 28,000 cases on Thursday, and the country has registered more than 2.1 million cases since the start of the pandemic.

Sir. Zeman was first discharged from the capital’s military hospital on Saturday after more than a month of treatment for an unspecified illness.

He was taken back to the hospital hours after being released after testing positive for COVID-19.

Sir. Zeman had received three COVID-19 vaccine shots and had no symptoms, the hospital said.

He was rushed to hospital a day after the election and was treated in an intensive care unit.

His condition was attributed to an unspecified chronic disease.

Man in wheelchair sitting in a glass box opposite three other men in suits
Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman wished the new leader, Petr Fiala, “success”.(AP: Roman Vondrous)

The new government will have to tackle a new wave of COVID-19, threatening to overwhelm hospitals as well as an energy crisis, following the collapse of a major electricity supplier.

The Prime Minister also urged people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and praised the medical staff as the cases were increasing.

Opponents of vaccination and government anti-coronavirus measures gathered in thousands in Prague later Sunday for a protest rally condemning such moves as a ban on Christmas markets.

Only 58.5 percent of the country’s population is vaccinated against COVID-19, compared to the EU average of 65.8 percent according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

Fiala is expected to appoint its cabinet in mid-December.

Sir. Zeman said he would meet the candidates for the ministerial roles between Monday and December 13 to discuss their future jobs, despite the choice of candidates being the new prime minister.

Wires / ABC

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