The head of the State Veterinary Authority Milan Malena has said that a potential outbreak of bird flu is more likely to occur in the Pardubice, Strakonice and Znojmo districts where there is a high density of poultry farms. If the deadly H5N1 virus were detected in those areas, Mr Malena said stricter precautionary measures would be adopted than elsewhere. The infection has so far been detected in 12 European countries, including three countries neighbouring the Czech Republic.
Health Minister Rath also told Czech Television on Sunday that he would like the heavily indebted teaching hospitals, directly controlled by the Health Ministry, to repay their debts by the June elections. Mr Rath said the Health Ministry did not have the required 2 billion crowns and he would therefore need the help of Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. Meanwhile pharmaceutical wholesalers have refused to deliver drugs to three most indebted hospitals until they pay for previous deliveries.
The Czech Republic defeated Russia 3:0 in men's ice hockey on Saturday to win the Olympic Games ice hockey bronze medal. Marek Zidlicky scored a powerplay goal early in the second period to make it 2-0 after Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk was given a five-minute major for boarding. Martin Erat and Martin Straka also scored for the Czechs who finished with a record of four wins and four losses and picked up their first Olympic medal since winning gold in 1998.
The President of the Chamber of Dentists Jiri Pekarek has said healthcare workers are considering a general strike in May, one month before parliamentary elections. Speaking in a TV discussion programme on Sunday, Mr Pekarek said during the industrial action many practices and surgeries would be closed and health care would be less available. Health Minister David Rath said he would not yield to the pressure of the disaffected health care employees. On Friday, thousands of health care workers staged a protest rally in Prague, demanding Health Minister Rath's dismissal.
The film "Stesti" or "Happines" has won the Czech Lion award for the best Czech film of 2005. The film, directed by Bohdan Slama and produced by Pavel Strnad, received a total of seven prizes at Saturday's award ceremony in Prague; for best Czech film, best director, best script, best photography, best actor in a leading role and best actress in a leading and supporting role.
Border police in North Bohemia turned back a lorry carrying a load of communal waste from Germany in the early hours of Saturday. The driver claimed he had only crossed the border to buy diesel. The Czech Environment Inspection Authority estimates some 15,000 tonnes of rubbish have been imported from Germany in recent months and dumped illegally in the Czech Republic.
Health Minister David Rath has called on the pharmaceutical wholesaler Pharmos to submit evidence proving alleged corruption practices at the Health Ministry, otherwise the ministry will take legal action against it. Pharmos initially agreed to resume supplies of medicines to three indebted teaching hospitals after it had stopped deliveries along with three other distributors. The company has now finally decided to end supplies because of alleged corruption at the ministry.
Former Czech president Vaclav Havel opposes plans to send a giant neon heart which temporarily adorned Prague Castle to the Afghan capital Kabul, warning that it might cause religious offence, the newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Saturday. The heart, by artist Jiri David, became a highly visible landmark in the Czech capital at the end of Mr Havel's last term in 2002. The former president's secretary, Jakub Hladik, told the paper that there were indications that the heart could be viewed as a religious symbol and cause conflict. The heart had been bought by the World Development Organisation which came up with the idea of displaying it in Kabul.
Roads around the northern town of Liberec were blocked on Saturday morning as hundreds of tourists were leaving the Jizerske Mountains and new holidaymakers were arriving at the ski resorts. Local hotel managers say the past week was one of the busiest in the season as children from the Czech Republic as well as some neighbouring countries had come to spend their school break in the mountains.
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