Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jana Maláčová said Sunday the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic were worse than those of World War II as she argued in favour of reopening schools.
Prague Jewish Museum director Leo Pavlat raised objections to the statement of Ms. Maláčová comparing the coronavirus pandemic consequences to World War II.
Maláčová said in a TV debate on Sunday that not even the Second World War had prevented children from going to school. Pavlat reminded that Jewish children were banned from attending all types of schools during WWII.
“Covid is a disease that has made the country stop working for a year, the country is at a standstill, the entire economy is struggling. Even World War II did not do what the virus did. No other situation stopped us from sending the children to school,” said Maláčová in a television debate on CNN Prima News.
Mr. Pavlát reminded that Jewish children were prevented from studying in all schools during the war. The statement also aroused criticism from journalists, labeled as “extremely insensitive” toward victims of the Holocaust.
Maláčová later tried to backpedal, saying she did not mean to dishonor the more than 70 million victims of World War II.
“I’m just trying to show we have to find a way out of these blanket closures. I definitely did not want to reduce human suffering. I didn’t want to offend anyone at all, and my statement affected anyone, I apologize,” said the CSSD vice-president.
The Czech Republic has registered more than one million confirmed coronavirus cases including over 17,000 deaths and ranks among Europe’s worst-hit countries in terms of cases and deaths per capita.