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Czech President tests positive for Covid-19 and returns to hospital

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Czech President Milos Zeman tested positive for Covid-19 and was returning to the hospital on Thursday after being discharged that same day for different treatment, his office said, confirming media reports.

The office said the 77-year-old president’s work schedule would be suspended while he was receiving treatment for Covid-19.

Zeman was due to appoint a new prime minister on Friday after the October elections.

The leftist veteran was hospitalized on October 10, the day after the general election, and received treatment for liver problems that doctors have suggested could be cirrhosis.

Zeman left the Prague Military University Hospital (UVN) for home care at his residence at Lany Castle, west of Prague, on Thursday morning.

But on Thursday afternoon, Zeman “was tested for Covid-19 within the standards of the home care provider. Unfortunately, the result was positive,” Ovcacek said.

“The president’s program will be suspended while he undergoes Covid-19 treatment,” he added as Zeman returned to UVN.

Local media said Zeman, who had received three doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, was showing no symptoms of the disease.

Zeman was due to name Fiala on Friday, but the infection has postponed the ceremony indefinitely.

Fiala is the chairman of the right-wing Civic Democratic Party, which teamed up with the centrist Christian Democrats and the center-right TOP 09 party to form the Juntos alliance that won the October elections.

Together they narrowly defeated the populist ANO movement of outgoing billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis.

Registry of Covid-19 infections

The alliance then joined forces with a centrist grouping of mayors and independents and the Pirate Party to win a 108-vote majority in the 200-seat parliament.

The five parties formed a government while Zeman, who normally would have mediated the post-election talks, was in hospital.

Zeman, who will appoint the prime minister and then the government according to the constitution, said he had a problem with a person in Fiala’s cabinet and suggested that the pro-Russian Zeman could insist on a change.

But Zeman’s latest hospitalization has slowed things even further at a time when the Czech Republic, an EU member of 10.7 million people, is grappling with record daily growth in Covid-19 infections.

The Czech Ministry of Health registered 18,004 new cases on Wednesday after a record of 25,877 the day before.

The rally prompted the outgoing Babis government to announce new restrictions on Thursday, including closing restaurants, bars and clubs at night, as well as the entire Christmas markets.

Hospitals in the east are running out of capacity and some have begun transferring patients to less congested facilities in other parts of the country.

Additional report from AFP.

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