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Czech PM Andrej Babiš asks MPs to extend state of emergency by one month

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) asked the Chamber of Deputies to extend the state of emergency over the coronavirus epidemic by one month

Prague, April 7 (CTK) – Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) asked the Chamber of Deputies to extend the state of emergency over the coronavirus epidemic by one month in harmony with the government resolution today, saying the conditions for this continue and it is in the interest of all citizens.

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The state of emergency was declared on March 12 and can always last for one month only.

The current pandemic will not mean the return to a strong and omnipotent state, Babiš said.

“I do not want the freedoms to be restricted a second longer than it is absolutely necessary,” he said. He highlighted the pillars on which the EU was built, such as the free movement of persons. Democracy differs from dictatorship by its care for every single human life, he added.

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Babiš said he cannot promise MPs to ask them for prolonging the state of emergency for the last time today. It namely seems from the statements by the leaders of the parties of parliament that they would be willing to nod to the extension until April 30 only.

Babiš repeated the steps his government had taken so far to curb the coronavirus spread.

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“Along with halting the epidemic, our fundamental task is to keep the economy working. We mainly have to survive the first few months that might be hard,” Babiš noted.

He reminded of the predictions by the Institute of Health Information and Statistics (UZIS), saying 14,000 to 15,000 people would be infected with the novel coronavirus in the Czech Republic, with a population of 10.7 million, at the end of April if the government restrictions were observed.

Babiš again rejected the opinion that the population should be exposed to the virus gradually. If the number of he infected persons rose steeply, it would no longer be possible to keep the epidemic under control, he said.

The aim is to control the epidemic, not to overburden the health care system through a fast isolation of the infected, Babiš said, adding that further government steps may be released after the Easter holiday.

He again rejected the criticism of late supplies of protective means for healthcare personnel. The state has already spent 11.7 billion crowns on protective material, he said.

Babiš also thanked healthcare workers and others “in the front line of the coronavirus fight” as well as the inhabitants for having made textile face masks on their own.

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