Minister of Health Petr Arenberger announced on Tuesday morning that he is stepping down.
“I can already confirm that the new Czech health minister will be Adam Vojtech. In September, after a covid burden, he decided to leave. I was really sorry, I think he was a very good minister. We have now agreed that he will take office and remain in the position of Minister until the end of this government,” said Prime Minister Andrej Babis.
Arenberger faced several scandals. For example, he was recently accused of hiding millions in revenue on his tax returns.
The accusations come from TV Seznam who claims that he made millions of crowns for clinical studies of new drugs and illegally conducted these activities on a trade license and claimed it was for the purpose of cosmetic services.
Arenberger has worked as the director of the Královské Vinohrady Hospital as well as running clinical trials for pharmaceutical drugs for over a decade. As part of his trade license and as a public figure, he is required to disclose his income from business dealings to the public.
On April 7th, Petr Arenberger, director of the University Hospital Vinohrady, became the fourth person to accept this ungrateful task.
To recapitulate: Adam Vojěch, Health Minister since December 2017, resigned on the 21st of September as the country’s daily infection rate began to be counted in the thousands. Relatively successful in his handling of the first wave of the pandemic, Vojtěch was critically undermined by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who struck down his proposal of an indoor mask mandate towards the end of summer.
Vojtěch’s successor Roman Prymula lasted little longer than a month: he was forced to resign on October 29th after being photographed leaving a restaurant with the PM’s righthand man Jaroslav Faltýnek. Despite the fact that he himself had banned indoor dining, he denied any wrongdoing for several days following the incident.
The most recent dismissal, that of Jan Blatný, is perhaps most perplexing, as it was not prefaced by worsening infection rates or a personal scandal.
In fact, the seven-day average of new cases reached its lowest point since December just a week before Blatný’s end. Nevertheless, Czech President Miloš Zeman blamed the Czech Republic’s high mortality rate on Blatný’s refusal to permit Sputnik V use without the approval of the European Medical Agency and pressured Prime Minister Babiš to sack him.
Babiš, who relies on Zeman’s support in the upcoming October parliamentary election, eventually yielded.
Infections are falling in the Czech Republic. The day-to-day tally of new cases dropped to 695 on Monday, down from almost 17,000 in early March.
The Czech Republic has registered almost 1.7 million confirmed cases, with over 30,000 deaths.