Czech President Zeman's condition improves, leaves intensive care

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PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech President Milos Zeman was moved from an intensive care unit after more than three weeks of treatment to a standard hospital room on Thursday after his condition improved, the Prague Central Military Hospital said. 

  Zeman, 77, was taken to hospital with an unknown condition on Oct. 10, a day after an election that his ally Prime Minister Andrej Babis lost to a group of centre-right opposition parties. 

  The president will get in touch with Babis on Friday, and hold a video conference with the opposition candidate for prime minister, Petr Fiala, on Saturday in his first consultation with the opposition since the election. 

  The presidential office has not revealed his diagnosis but a hospital report on Oct. 18, said Zeman was unable to carry out his duties, which could lead parliament to strip him of powers including appointing a new prime minister. 

  It was not clear if the president's condition had improved enough to change the hospital's view of his ability to work. 

  "The treatment, especially complex nutrition support, given in intensive care led to the improvement of the president's clinical condition. Today the president has been transferred to a standard bed," the hospital said in a statement on Thursday. 

Watch: Czech politics in limbo with hospitalised president too ill to work

  The hospital said Zeman was not allowed to accept visitors in person after a ban on visits due to a sharp rise in coronavirus infections. 

  The presidential office, which insists hospitalisation did not prevent the president from working, said Zeman had ordered his staff to prepare documents for accepting the old government's resignation that will follow the first meeting of the new lower house of parliament starting on Nov. 8. 

  Under the constitution, the president then picks a new prime minister. 

  Zeman, who has in the past stretched his constitutional powers and once appointed a cabinet of his allies without parliamentary backing, has not said whether he would heed an opposition request to respect the parliamentary numbers and appoint Fiala. 

  If both houses of parliament agree that Zeman's medical condition makes him incapable of performing his duties, the authority to appoint a new prime minister would be transferred to the head of the lower house. 

  (Reporting by Robert Muller and Jan Lopatka; Editing by Alison Williams, Hugh Lawson and Giles Elgood) 

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