- Czech President Miloš Zeman swore in the country’s new prime minister from inside an isolation box.
- Zeman was hospitalised Thursday after testing positive for Covid-19 but was released after showing no symptoms.
- The acrylic glass box in which Zeman sat was created specifically for the unique occasion.
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There was little fanfare or ceremony as Petr Fiala was officially sworn in as the new prime minister of the Czech Republic on Sunday.
But the ceremony was still a sight to behold, as Czech President Miloš Zeman, who tested positive for Covid-19 late last week, performed his presidential duties from inside a transparent isolation cube at the Lany Manor house, near Prague.
In addition to the acrylic glass box marking the peculiarities of this particular appointment, Zeman was accompanied by health workers dressed in full hazmat suits and was seated in a wheelchair as he recovered from a recent, month-long, non-Covid-19 related hospitalisation.
Zeman, 77, was released from the hospital last Thursday following a 46-day fight with a liver illness and other health problems but was sent back later that night after testing positive for the coronavirus. He was discharged again on Saturday after showing no symptoms and was instructed to isolate.
Fiala’s swearing-in was originally scheduled for Friday but had to be pushed back following Zeman’s second hospitalisation. The see-through cubicle was created specifically for the occasion, according to CNN.
Fiala serves as the chairman of the Czech center-right ODS party, which won big in last month’s parliamentary election. He will lead two centrist coalitions consisting of five different political parties after the alliance unseats the current prime minister, populist leader Andrej Babiš.
As president, Zeman is responsible for selecting a prime minister to form a governmental coalition, so his ongoing absence left the country in political limbo for weeks. Babiš and his current government remain in power until the lower house of the Czech Parliament offers a vote of confidence for the newly formed coalition.
Zeman said he plans to meet with Fiala’s prospective cabinet choices in the coming days in hopes of completing the process by December 13, CNN reported.
Zeman, who is a notorious lifelong smoker, has had several health problems during his presidency, which began in 2013. According to The New York Times, he has a history of diabetes and neuropathy in his legs, which prompted him to begin using a wheelchair in April.
The Czech Republic is battling a surge in Covid-19 cases, setting a new record on Friday with close to 28,000 cases recorded, The Times reported. An ongoing outbreak throughout Europe has prompted multiple countries to reinstate lockdowns and curfews.