Prague Castle, seat of the Czech President, as viewed from Charles Bridge

People should neither play down coronavirus, nor succumb to panic, says Czech President

President Miloš Zeman called on Czechs not to play down the rising coronavirus epidemic nor succumb to panic in a TV address this evening

Prague, March 19 (CTK) – President Miloš Zeman called on Czechs not to play down the rising coronavirus epidemic, but not to succumb to panic either in his address broadcast by TV Prima this evening.

Once again, he expressed support for the Czech government and the measures it has taken to combat the coronavirus, and the measures it has taken to combat the coronavirus, and thanked China for providing a medical equipment supply to the Czech Republic.

He praised the activities of volunteers who help others amid the difficult situation.

Previously, Zeman supported the cabinet and warned against people’s running in panic in a public speech two weeks ago.

The number of those infected has sharply increased since, and the first fatalities cannot be ruled out in the days to come, he said today.

On the other hand, there have been the first cases of recovery, he said, referring to the first three patients who recovered from COVID-19 among the 694 cases confirmed so far.

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“That is why I would like to ask you to avoid two extremes. The first would be playing the epidemic down,” Zeman said, mentioning a negative example of “a theatre group boss who said quite recently that coronavirus is nothing but light flu and criticised the cabinet’s measures.”

“The other extreme would be succumbing to panic and fear. I said already on the previous occasion that fear makes us weak. That is why I would like to ask you to show courage,” Zeman said.

Referring to the current situation, he said he talked to both the current and former health ministers to ask them what the biggest problem in fighting the coronavirus is.

“They told me that the problem rests in a big shortage of medical equipment. I therefore want to thank the People’s Republic of China, which is the only country to have helped us by supplying the equipment,” Zeman said.

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He said that according to his information, Prague has sent seven planes of the Travel Service carrier to China, from where the first supply of coronavirus tests has arrived in the Czech Republic already, and that a large-capacity aircraft Ruslan will ensure such help next time.

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Zeman, who was the Czech Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman in 1993-2001, recalled that his CSSD was in opposition in 1993-1998 when the country faced an economic crisis. “I said then that everybody must set to pumping water in a situation where water was pouring into the boat. Similarly, I would like to call on our current opposition to back the government’s measures, or, if they are incapable of doing so, to keep silent throughout the quarantine period at least,” Zeman said.

He called on people to ignore the “barking and yelling of our newspaper commentators, who, as usual, write about everything and understand nothing. People should pay more attention to the advice of experts, which can help, Zeman said.

“I strongly welcome the spontaneous activities of all volunteers who associate in order to help fellow citizens, whether they are pensioners or families that have no one to care after their children,” Zeman said, alluding to the situation where all schools and many kindergartens have closed over the epidemic.

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He also appreciated medicine students’ assistance in hospitals and people’s other activities.

“Even actors, some of whom have complained of having no earnings now, would do better if they visited old people’s homes, for example, and brought a bit joy to us,” Zeman said.

He wished people to love each other, take a kind and accommodating approach to each other, help each other and show their humanism in these hard times.

Zeman’s speech was broadcast by commercial TV Prima, it was recorded on Wednesday morning.

Czech Television (CT), the public broadcaster, applied for permission to broadcast the speech simultaneously, arguing by its larger audience and the previous occasions of broadcasting of Zeman’s Christmas address simultaneously with commercial Nova TV, but the Presidential Office did not meet CT’s request.

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