Politics

Czech Republic Ousts Third Health Chief in Six Months on Covid Struggle

Photographer: Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images

The Czech Republic is replacing its third health minister in just over six month as it struggles to contain one of the deadliest coronavirus outbreaks in the world.

Minister Jan Blatny said he was dismissed on Wednesday at the request of Premier Andrej Babis, who nominated him to the job in October and later criticized his handling of the pandemic. Babis picked Petr Arenberger, a hospital director in Prague, to replace him.

Read more: Europe’s Virus Hot Spot to Fire Health Chief After Blunder

Babis has censured Blatny for opposing the use of experimental drugs for Covid-19 treatment. President Milos Zeman, a close ally of the premier, demanded the minister’s dismissal for not allowing the rollout of Russian Sputnik V vaccine in this European Union member state without the approval of the bloc’s drug regulator.

After closing most shops, services and schools, the Czechs were forced to impose restrictions on domestic travel last month to prevent a collapse of the medical system.

The stricter curbs appear to have slowed the spread of the Covid-19 in the past two weeks and the country now plans to reopen parts of elementary schools from Monday.

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