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Czech WHO branch criticizes coronavirus response, Babiš responds

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The Czech branch of the World Health Organization criticized the Czech government’s response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on Monday, which incited a response from Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.

“[The] Situation in the Czech Republic is concerning at the moment. Data shows elevated and growing levels of transmission across many regions and districts,” wrote the branch in a public Facebook post.

“Among 55 parties to the International Health Regulations (2005) in the WHO European Region, Czech Republic is on the 16th place in terms of 14-day incidence of Covid-19, which is an increase of 75% in comparison with the previous two weeks. Only 7 countries in the WHO European Region have currently a higher 2-week growth rate,” it added.

In his Twitter response, Babiš stated that the WHO “should keep quiet” and that he believed Czechia was doing a “very good” job at containing the virus. His tweet contained a table showing the country ranks 26 out of 31 European countries in the number of deaths per million, which is more favorable than Germany, Denmark, Belgium, and France, among others.

The WHO’s post also commended the government for its “greatly expanded” testing, and claims new “faster, simpler and cheaper” tests could become available soon. However, the agency also noted that 30% of positive case contacts are not identified by the government’s tracing program and recommends that it “scale up the service rapidly” in order to combat potential unidentified cases.

Health Minister Adam Vojtěch also wrote on Twitter that “The ongoing discussion on changing the tracing system is highly technical. We don’t want to stop tracing, we want to make it more efficient. We are increasing the capacity of KHS and laboratories. We are doing our best to keep the epidemic under control. Let’s wait for a specific proposal and not draw conclusions before it’s on the table.”

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