Surreal Photos of Czech President Appointing New PM From Inside Airtight Box

Miloš Zeman arrived at the swearing-in ceremony with hospital staff in full protective gear after testing positive for COVID.
Czech President Appoints New Prime Minister From Inside Airtight Box
Petr Fiala (left) is appointed the new prime minister of the Czech Republic by Miloš Zeman (in the box). Photo: ROMAN VONDROUS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Czech president Miloš Zeman has appointed a new prime minister from inside a specially-designed air-tight plexiglass box, after testing positive for COVID.

The 77-year-old president, a controversial and divisive figure, contracted the virus after a six-week stay in hospital for an unrelated illness. He had been released from hospital only to be sent back later in the evening after he tested positive for coronavirus.

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Photo: ROMAN VONDROUS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Photo: ROMAN VONDROUS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Zeman sat in a wheelchair as he performed the ceremony to swear in centre-right leader Petr Fiala as prime minister. He arrived at his residence in Prague with staff in full protective gear, as rules in the country state patients must self isolate for two weeks after testing positive.

Fiala is the leader of a coalition that won the Czech general election in October, but Zeman spent weeks in intensive care following the result, leaving the country in stasis as one of the Czech president’s key roles is appointing a prime minister and forming a government.

Photo: ROMAN VONDROUS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Photo: ROMAN VONDROUS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Fiala won a surprise election victory over billionaire Andrej Babiš in the October election. One of the outgoing government’s last actions was to tighten COVID-related restrictions – just under 60% of people in the Czech Republic have been vaccinated against COVID, below the European Union average of 66%, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.