Doctors report a flu epidemic in seven of the Czech Republic's fourteen regions. Elsewhere there is a heightened incidence of the flu and viral infections and doctors fear that the wave of milder weather will only make things worse. People have been advised to avoid crowded places and increase their intake of vitamin C. Children and elderly people are considered particularly vulnerable. Flu epidemics have been reported from a number of European countries over the past few days.
Fifty three percent of Czechs would like to vote on the EU Constitution in a referendum, according to an opinion poll commissioned by the daily Lidove Noviny. Close to 50 percent of respondents said they would like the referendum to be held within the framework of the parliamentary elections in 2006. Sixty percent of Czechs said they were ready to go to the polls. One third of respondents said they would prefer for Parliament to ratify the EU Constitution.
The Czech Republic's ice hockey team won its match against Finland at the Swedish Games in Stockholm. The Czechs won 3:2 in an extended game, with Jaroslav Bednar scoring the winning goal in the 63rd minute. The Swedish Games are part of the four-nation Euro Hockey Tour, in which the Czech Republic is ranked third.
The former Czech president Vaclav Havel has expressed deep sorrow over the death of American playwright Arthur Miller calling him "the greatest playwright of the 20th century". "The news of his death moved me a lot, because I was his friend since the 1960s" Mr. Havel said in a statement made available to the press. Like other major literary figures, Mr. Arthur Miller supported the process that led to the fall of communism in Europe.
The right wing opposition Civic Democrats would win a landslide victory if general elections were held today. Polls suggest that the party has retained a strong lead over all others on the Czech political scene. Voter preferences suggest that the Civic Democrats would capture 32 percent of the vote, the Communists would get 15 percent, the ruling Social Democrats 14,5 percent while the Christian Democrats would come fourth with around 10 percent of the vote. No other party would win enough votes to acquire seats in Parliament.
Speaking on Czech Radio on Friday, President Vaclav Klaus said the scandal surrounding Prime Minister Gross was "most unfortunate". This will damage the Czech Republic's credibility both at home and abroad, the President said, adding that he personally regretted the fact that this affair would make Czechs more sceptical than ever about Czech politics and politicians.
The Czech Republic is to send another 40 soldiers to Afghanistan in March, according to the Defence Ministry. The Czech troops will serve in a German-led NATO reconstruction team, and will be based near the town of Fayzabad in the north of the country; they will focus on maintaining security, protecting international units and co-operation with local people. The Czech Republic already has a 15-member Army team in Kabul; it deals with explosives and takes part in weather and geographical observation.
Around 60 percent of Czech voters would like to see Prime Minister
Stanislav Gross resign from office, suggests an opinion poll published in
Friday's edition of the daily Lidove noviny. Mr Gross - who for some time
was one of the most popular politicians in the country - has come under
increasing pressure recently, after failing to explain how he had paid for
his luxury flat in Prague.
The prime minister has insisted he will not step down over the affair, which he has described as "artificial", and part of an orchestrated campaign against him. Speaking in the Lower House on Thursday, Mr Gross reiterated that he would undergo security screening in order to clear his name.
The Czech Republic's ice hockey team have lost their first game at the Swedish Games in Stockholm. The Czechs were beaten 3:2 by the hosts after the game went to penalties. Their next match is against Finland on Saturday. The Swedish Games are part of the four-nation Euro Hockey Tour, in which the Czech Republic are ranked third.