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Czech health minister set to resign after violating his own Covid guidelines

Roman Prymula, the Czech Republic's leading epidemiologist, courted controversy Thursday night after he was photographed leaving a restaurant and entering a car without wearing a face mask in Prague.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: October 24, 2020 5:35:10 pm
Roman Prymula is Czech Republic’s leading epidemiologist. (FB/Czech Embassy New Delhi)

The Czech Republic’s newly-appointed health minister will soon be stepping down from his role after coming under fire for violating the emergency coronavirus regulations he himself had put forward in an effort to contain a recent surge of cases in the European nation.

Roman Prymula, the country’s leading epidemiologist, courted controversy Thursday night after he was photographed leaving a restaurant and entering a car without wearing a face mask in Prague, The Guardian reported.

The incident took place two days after Prymula introduced a slew of tighter coronavirus restrictions — including physical distancing regulations and a new mask wearing mandate.

With more than 220,000 cases at present, the Czech Republic has one of Europe’s highest per-capita infection rates.

Soon after, the country’s Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told him to either leave his post voluntarily or be dismissed and announced that he would be appointing a new health minister to replace him, according to Al Jazeera. He also fired the deputy head of the senior government ANO Jaroslav Faltynek, who Prymula had allegedly met at the restaurant.

“We can’t preach water and drink wine. I think that the minister should lead by example without further ado,” Babiš said at a press conference. “For that reason, I’ve asked the minister to resign. If he doesn’t, I’ll dismiss him. I’ve asked Mr Faltýnek to resign as first vice-president of the Ano movement. I’m very sorry, he apologised to everyone for that.”

However, at another news conference, Prymula told reporters that he had no intention of stepping down and denied violating any measures as he claimed he had not met anyone at the restaurant. His statement came soon after Prague’s city council announced that it was launching “administrative proceedings” against him and the restaurant, The Guardian reported.

Prymula was appointed health minister on September 21, after his predecessor Adam Vojtech’s sudden resignation from office. He had earlier criticised the Czech government for relaxing Covid-19 restrictions during the summer and not enforcing a strict mask mandate.

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