via Facebook / Andrej Babiš

The Czech Republic is facing its biggest challenge yet, says PM Andrej Babiš on coronavirus

Babiš thanked citizens for observing the restrictive measures and said the Czech Republic is doing very well in a televised speech this evening

Prague, March 23 (CTK) – The Czech Republic never before faced such a challenge as the current coronavirus pandemic, no one was prepared for it and the whole world is learning how to react to it, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) said in a televised speech today.

Babiš thanked citizens for observing the restrictive measures.

The Czech Republic is doing very well and it will certainly control the situation, Babiš said.

Babiš admitted partial mistakes and problems and asked for lenience.

“The whole world is dealing with a pandemic of enormous reach. All of us are only learning to react. Please, forgive our partial mistakes and problems. There are lots of them. This cannot be helped,” he added.

“This is a crisis situation for which not a single country in Europe was prepared,” Babiš said.

Both the government and state institutions are doing their utmost for the protection of the lives and health of citizens, he added.

Babiš thanked for the patience with which people accept the restrictive measures, which are not easy for anyone.

“Maybe the measures will take longer than we originally thought. I speak frankly. This is just the state of affairs. But do not be afraid,” he added.

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Babiš criticised all those arbitrarily violating the restrictive measures adopted to curb the spread of the infection.

He said this was neither bravery nor fun, as it would only prolong the complications now faced by the Czech Republic.

The emergency measures the government has adopted to curb the coronavirus outbreak may take longer than the government expected, Babiš said.

Babiš said he believed the effect of the measures would soon bring to bear and the nation would control the situation.

Babiš thanked all the health staff, police, firefighters and volunteers who provide selfless help to the rest.

All citizens have jointly stood up against the crisis and the nation will also jointly overcome it, he added.

Babiš praised the public media for launching instruction programmes and the programme for the elderly as well as other media that help citizens calm down.

He said it was a good thing that people did not succumb to hysteria.

Babiš said with the quarantine, the government was trying to limit contacts among people, lowering the risk of the spread of the infection, while economic life should not be crippled.

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He also spoke about the shortage of protective equipment, for which he and Health Minister Adam Vojtech (for ANO) were criticised.

Babiš said there was a global shortage of face masks and respirators and they were already unavailable on the global market at the beginning of February.

Both coalition partners and opposition politicians thanked the Prime Minister for the solidarity and cooperation which he expressed in his address of the nation over the coronavirus outbreak today.

The speech was adequate to the serious situation of the Czech Republic and other countries afflicted by the coronavirus epidemic, the leaders of the Social Democrats and the Communists, Jan Hamacek and Vojtech Filip, said.

The opposition says the government should speak more about its plans with the public.

“It is right that in his speech, Babiš called for cohesion and reacted to the mistakes of the government which have occurred. Now there is the question of the specific steps to be taken by the government,” Petr Fiala, the leader of the opposition Civic Democratic Party (ODS), said.

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“We are still ready to support all the proposals to help people,” Fiala said.

Babiš’s speech was such that ought to have been delivered by President Milos Zeman, the leader of the opposition TOP 09, Marketa Pekarova Adamova, said.

“There is the difference that the words of Zeman came from his own head, while the words of Babiš are from his PR team. However, I agree with the content and I thank for his thanks to the citizens of the Czech Republic. They are really coping admirably with the situation,” she added.

“It is good that Babiš was speaking decently, having thanked the health staff, emergency workers and many volunteers who are saving our country on the front line,” the leader of the opposition Pirates, Ivan Bartos, said.

Hamacek said the “speech was adequate to the situation.”

The leader of the anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), Tomio Okamura, said Babiš had not said anything new or concrete.

“Unfortunately, not a single word about what the government and Babiš concretely are doing so that we overcome everything. Nothing but soothing, excuses, praises,” Okamura said

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