Czechs replace health minister amid record infection surge

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FILE - In this March 15, 2020 file photo, Deputy Minister of Health Roman Prymula addresses a press conference after the government talks on new measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Prague, Czech Republic. Prymula will be the new Czech Health Minister, replacing Adam Vojtech (for ANO), who announced his resignation on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. (AP Photo via CTK/Ondrej Deml)

PRAGUE – The Czech government moved Monday to appoint an epidemiologist as the new health minister as the country struggles with a surge of new coronavirus infections.

The outgoing minister, Adam Vojtech, resigned from his post on Monday, saying his departure was meant to create space for a possible different approach to the pandemic.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis, in announcing Prymula’s selection, said it was a moment for "crisis management.”

President Milos Zeman said he planned to swear in epidemiologist Roman Prymula to the post later Monday.

As deputy health minister, Prymula led the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic for a time in the spring.

The country recorded a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases and deaths then compared to hard-hit western European countries such as Italy, Spain and Britain.

Prymula later assumed a different post, as a government health care envoy.

After the government lifted most of its restrictions in the summer, the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases began to gradually grow and reached a record high last week.