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Czech Health Minister announces surprise resignation

Prague, Czech Republic- Czech Minister of Health Adam Vojtech (ANO) announced his resignation in a surprise move at a news conference on Monday morning.

According to Vojtech, who said he wanted to leave space for a new solution to address the coronavirus pandemic now appearing to enter its second wave, he had previously informed Prime Minister Andrej Babis he would be stepping down ahead of his public announcement.

Vojtech, 33, is a lawyer by profession and member of the ruling ANO party. He previously worked as a lawyer for Mafra, the media company owned by Babis’ Agrofert business conglomerate, before becoming his close collaborator while he was Minister of Finance. He has been a member of the lower house of Parliament and was appointed as Czech Health Minister following the 2017 general election.

On social media, the Czech PM thanked M. Vojtech, calling him a “decent, honest and hardworking person, for his work as Health Minister and role in managing the first wave of COVID-19 in the spring. Babis added that he understood if Vojtech was “disgusted with politics and the media and decided to leave”.

“I have nothing to be ashamed of”, Adam Vojtech told reporters regarding his handling of the first wave of COVID-19, adding that he was proud of all the changes he had brought to the Czech healthcare sector before the pandemic hit.

Although the Czech Republic managed quite successfully to contain the spread of the virus in the spring, Vojtech has faced growing criticism and repeated calls to resign from the media and opposition politicians. Prime Minister Babis, too, has publicly scolded his Health Minister more than once throughout the pandemic.

As of today, the epidemic will be the main responsibility of the Central Crisis Staff, which operated during the first wave of infections and was reinstated last week by Prime Minister Babis in the face of growing COVID cases. The government is also set to discuss the possibility of declaring a second state of emergency or to introduce new restrictions to contain the spread of the virus.

The pandemic has claimed the heads of numerous Health Ministers throughout the world, including in Poland, Romania, New Zealand, Chile, Brazil and Pakistan.

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.