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COVID-positive Czech president appoints new PM from plexiglass cubicle – Metro US

COVID-positive Czech president appoints new PM from plexiglass cubicle

Czech President Milos Zeman appoints Civic Democratic Party (ODS) leader
Czech President Milos Zeman appoints Civic Democratic Party (ODS) leader Petr Fiala as the new prime minister

PRAGUE (Reuters) -Czech President Milos Zeman appointed the leader of a centre-right alliance Petr Fiala as prime minister on Sunday in a ceremony he performed from a plexiglass cubicle after testing positive for COVID-19.

Fiala leads a bloc of five centre and centre-right opposition parties that won an election in October, ousting the incumbent premier Andrej Babis and his allies.

The new government will have to tackle a new wave of coronavirus infections that is threatening to overwhelm hospitals and an energy crisis, after the collapse of a large electricity provider. The coalition has also said https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/czech-opposition-parties-plan-lower-2022-budget-deficit-after-election-win-2021-10-17 it plans to rework the 2022 state budget to reduce a large deficit.

“The new government has a very complicated time ahead and many challenges… I want it to be a government of change for the future,” Fiala said at a news conference.

He expected his cabinet to be appointed in mid-December.

The new prime minister also called on people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and praised medical staff as cases are on the rise.

Opponents of vaccination and government’s anti-coronavirus measures such as a ban on Christmas markets gathered in their thousands in Prague later on Sunday for a protest rally.

Only 58.5% of Czechs are vaccinated againt coronavirus. This compares to a European Union average of 65.8%, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Zeman performed the inauguration ceremony from a plexiglass cubicle after testing positive for coronavirus. Zeman, who arrived in a wheelchair escorted by a medic in full protective gear, contracted the virus after a six-week stay in hospital for an unrelated illness.

(Reporting by Robert Muller, Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Angus MacSwan)

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