Prague – The Prime Minister of the Czech Republic has called on his health minister to resign or be sacked after he broke strict government restrictions to slow a record wave of coronavirus infections and visited a restaurant in Prague.
Prime Minister André Babis said on Friday that he would meet the country’s president later in the day to discuss a possible replacement for Minister Roman Primula.
“There is no other solution than his resignation from the position,” said Babis. “It shouldn’t have happened.”
“If we want people to abide by the rules … we have to be an example,” said Babis. “We cannot preach water and drink wine.”
The Pelsk daily said Primula met with Jaroslaw Valinik, vice president of the large government ANO or YES movement led by Babis, at a Prague restaurant on Wednesday evening. The photos published in the paper showed that Prymula also did not wear a mandatory face mask.
Restaurants in the Czech Republic have been closed due to the pandemic, and it was not immediately clear if the establishment was open or whether the owner had only allowed Prymula and Faltynek to eat there.
This revelation shocked the countries hard hit by the epidemic. At Primula’s request, the government has agreed to strict restrictions to slow the increase threatening the entire health system.
The small government coalition party, the Social Democrats, joined the opposition to demand the resignation of Primula, describing his behavior as “totally unacceptable”.
Primula denied wrongdoing and refused to step down, further escalating the crisis. He said he was invited to participate in a meeting with the hospital director and only passed through the restaurant to a private place where it was done.
He said, “I haven’t broken anything.”
Valinjk apologized for the meeting and said he had asked Primula to meet to discuss a special parliamentary session that would agree to a plan for NATO military medical personnel to come to the Czech Republic to help their local colleagues.
Before becoming Minister of Health, Primula was Deputy Minister of Health who led the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic for a period in the spring.
The country has recorded relatively low numbers of cases and deaths from COVID-19 compared to the hardest-hit Western European countries such as Italy, Spain and Britain.
Primula, an epidemiologist, would later take on a different position, as a government envoy for healthcare.
He was appointed just a month ago as a “crisis manager” to lead the country’s response to the pandemic as new infections were on the rise.
Primula became Minister of Health on September 12, and imposed a series of strict regulations in an attempt to slow the sharp rise in infections. Bars, restaurants, and schools are closed, as are theaters, cinemas, zoos and many other locations. Professional sports competitions are prohibited.
Just hours before the accident at the restaurant, Primula and Babis announced that the country would return to lockdown as it had been in the spring with new restrictions limiting movement, closing many stores and services and limiting public gatherings to two.
Primula said the health system would collapse around November 10 if measures were not taken, Primula said.
He described the current situation as dramatic, and recently tweeted in one of his videos: “I’d like to invite all of you to stay, if possible, at home.”
The daily increase of new confirmed cases reached 14,151 on Thursday, the second largest after a record high of nearly 15,000 cases recorded the previous day. The country confirmed 223065 positive cases, about a third of them in the past seven days, while 1845 died.
The number of people infected with COVID-19 in hospitals has reached 4,777, of whom 735 are in serious condition.
The average daily new cases for seven days over the past two weeks increased from 32.81 new cases per 100,000 people on October 7 to 92.88 new cases per 100,000 people on Wednesday.
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