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Czech PM Babis dismisses calls to resign over worsening COVID crisis

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Prague, Czech Republic – Under growing pressure due to his handling of the COVID-19 crisis, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said he saw no reason to resign.

Babis: “No reason to step down” despite COVID crisis mismanagement

In an interview with TV Prima, the Czech Premier acknowledged the government had made a number of mistakes in its management of the coronavirus pandemic, but said he and his cabinet were working around the clock to contain the spread of the virus and turn the situation around.

The Czech Republic is today one of the hardest-hit countries in the world in terms of new deaths and infections relative to population size.

Babis said he had used his “managerial skills” to acquire new vaccines as the government also faces strong criticism over the slow rollout. Last week, Israel sent 5,000 doses of anti-COVID vaccines to the Czech Republic, while France reportedly promised to supply the country with as many as 100,000 doses by mid-March.

The German Länder of Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia also announced they would collectively send 15,000 coronavirus vaccines to help the Czech Republic in its fight against COVID.

Czech Republic enforces ban on travel between districts

Despite a mild lockdown and night curfew in place since late December, the country has seen the number of cases surge once again in recent weeks, prompting Czech authorities to introduce new restrictive measures to stay in place for at least three weeks.

Starting Monday, kindergartens and a number of stores and shops that had been allowed to remain open are forced to close. Additionally, people are no longer allowed – apart from a few exceptions – to travel outside of their district of residence (the entire city of Prague is regarded as one single district).

Over 30,000 police officers and military personnel have been deployed around the country to enforce the domestic travel ban.

Face-mask rules have also been tightened last week.

In the same interview with TV Prima, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said he had received death threats against him and his family earlier this year, and had sent his wife to Dubai for protection.

Main photo credit: Official Facebook page of Andrej Babis

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.