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Coronavirus

Czech Prime Minster Andrej Babis Fired His Health Minister

PRAGUE — Czech Prime Minster Andrej Babis fired his health minister, the third who has lost the job in the pandemic in one of the hardest-hit European countries.

Jan Blatny was expected to be replaced by Petr Arenberger, the director of Prague’s University Hospital Vinohrady, who will be sworn in later Wednesday.

Babis has recently repeatedly criticized Blatny over his handling of the pandemic, including imposing strict conditions for use of experimental drugs to treat COVID-19 patients.

Blatny was also under fire from pro-Russian President Milos Zeman, an ally of Babis, who demanded Blatny’s dismissal over his refusal to allow the use of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine because it has not been approved by the European Union drug regulator.

Blatny took office on Oct. 29 to replace epidemiologist Roman Prymula who was dismissed after he was photographed as he visited a restaurant that should have been closed as part of restrictive measures to slow down the pandemic.

The nation of 10.7 million has 1.65 million confirmed cases with 27,329 deaths.

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