Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania
- 2,069 new cases of COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours: 2,069 new cases of COVID-19 infections have been reported in Romania in the past 24 hours at 10,051 tests, with the tally climbing to 157,352. The death toll surged to 5,467, with 56 new more deaths reported in the past 24 hours. The number of patients admitted in intensive care mounted to 628. Over the weekend, there have been 3,517 new cases reported on Saturday (new record high, at 29,284 tests) and 2,880 on Sunday (at 15,709 tests). Notably, despite the lower number of tests carried out over the weekend, the incidence of positive tests in the total number remains high (for example 20.59% at Monday’s figures). Overall, in the past 72 hours Romania added 8,466 new cases, most of which were registered in Bucharest (1,516), Iasi (509), Prahova (397), Timis (312), Sibiu (293), Cluj (291), Brasov (286), Neamt (267), Valcea (264), Doj (250), Galati and Alba (241 each), and Mures (223). Romania also registered the youngest COVID-19 victim, a 4-year-old boy from Mures (with severe pre-existing medical conditions), and a great loss among the PNL party, Stefan Drăgulin, incumbent mayor of Calarasi, vice-president of PNL and head of the county organization. PM Ludovic Orban expressed his condolences. Dragulin was mayor of Calarasi for 8 years, and in the elections of September 27 he ran for a new term, but lost to the PSD candidate Marius Grigore Dulce, director of the Calarasi Health Insurance House. Prahova County also registers a negative record with 15 teenagers diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
Political and regulatory
- PM to propose ban on private events or restricting it to 20 people: PM Ludovic Orban has announced on Monday that he would propose the ban of private events or to get back to the old system when only 20 people were allowed to attend such events.
- Health minister: Romania can’t afford a lockdown or to ignore prevention rules: Romania can’t afford another lockdown or to ignore the Covid-19 prevention rules, health minister Nelu Tătaru told television station Digi 24. Health Minister Nelu Tataru told a news conference in Iasi on Sunday that for the time being locking down Bucharest City is not being considered. He believes that the restrictions imposed since the beginning of this pandemic should be followed, that prevention and not quarantine is the way forward. “Should we close for a month? There are specialists who say we should close for two months! From my point of view, we should follow some restrictions that we have imposed since the beginning of this pandemic and think about those around us who are no longer with us because of this pandemic, let us think of those suffering, of a medical body that at this moment, with faith in their hearts, have been on duty since the beginning of this pandemic. Allow me to continue to thank them. We are in it together, we are there, and I hope that those who provide us with these cases, who do not believe in these cases before they reach to the hospital, will reconsider both their attitude and their rhetoric,” the minister said, when asked by a journalist to comment on specialists suggesting a one-month lockdown.
- Comment: Minister Tataru’s reply, visibly outraged, that seems to admonish the population is indicative of the rising pressure on the authorities to contain the situation while avoiding unpopular measures. In fact, the government has delegated responsibilities with restrictions to local authorities, claiming a targeted approach versus compete lockdown, yet as more and more counties are exceeding the 1.5 ceiling, the 3% ceiling for red scenarios imposed in Bucharest might also be extended to other parts of the country. As some restrictions seriously damage entire industries, it is possible that they would be eased if proven ungrounded, and the focus would shift towards a tighter observance of rules by the population including through fines and other means of raising awareness. However this too must done through a balanced approach, as general elections are looming. The most unpopular measures here seem to be those related to church gatherings (pilgrimages) and forcing mask wearing outdoors all the time, which is currently only a recommendation, but might be imposed following the international practice. Online education is also a hot topic, in part due to the (lacking) technical capabilities to actually provide education just like with physical attendance, the potential disruption of economic activities, and the benefits that have to be provided to employees that have to stay at home with their children (benefit which is granted provided that the employee does not also work remotely for his/her employer). And lastly, in the health sector, tight triage measures and home treatment of asymptomatic patients, would leave many patients in uncertainty outside the hospitals doors, especially as Public Health Departments are overwhelmed and are trying to pass the responsibility of keeping track of such patients to family physicians. Understaffing is a problem admitted by both Minister Tataru and PM Orban.
- Romania’s president to receive Kaiser Otto prize this week: President Klaus Iohannis will receive the 2020 Kaiser Otto prize (Kaiser-Otto-Preis) this Wednesday, October 14. He will travel to Magdeburg, Germany, to receive the prize for “great merits in the European unification efforts,” according to a statement from the Presidential Administration.
- Ex-chief of National Office for Prevention and Control of Money Laundering, charged with forging his high school diploma: Laurentiu Baranga, former chief of the National Office for Prevention and Control of Money Laundering, has been placed on house arrest by the District 5 Court. He is investigated in a fraud case, after he had forging his high school diploma that he had obtained when he was 32 years old. Laurențiu Baranga also worked in the past at the National Registry Office for Classified Information (ORNISS).
- PSD leader Ciolacu calling on all political forces to care about people’s lives instead of percentages: Romania must prepare itself to avoid a medical catastrophe, national chairman of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) Marcel Ciolacu said on Sunday, adding that it was time for all political forces to shake hands to weather well the present time.
- FinMin Citu accuses PSD of economic terrorism, throwing Romania into chaos for some votes: Finance Minister Florin Citu has called on the Sociasl Democratic Party (PSD) to stop what he dubs “economic terrorism,” saying that no politician has the right “to sentence Romania to poverty, hyper-inflation and astronomical interest rates for some more votes.” He pointed out that, until the general election on December 6, there are two more ECOFIN meetings where Romania can lose EU funds.
- USR PLUS to finalise general election lists next week: Next week, the Save Romania Union – Party of Liberty, Unity and Solidarity (USR PLUS) alliance will finalise its lists for this year’s general election, MEP Dacian Ciolos said on Saturday in Brasov, adding that the lists “are not decided at a central level, by the national leaders of the two parties; the candidates will not be handpicked to office, but they will result from an internal selection process.”
- Final results of local elections 2020, released: The Central Electoral Bureau (BEC) published the final results of the September 27 local elections. According to the data centralized by BEC, the PNL mayors obtained a percentage of 34.58%, PSD – 30.34% and the USR-PLUS Alliance – 6.58%. The rest of the parties obtained less than 5%.
Impact on the economy
- Govt. resumes subsidies for technical unemployment in HoReCa: Romanian prime minister Ludovic Orban assured that the Government would continue to subsidize the technical unemployment for employees in the HoReCa sector as long as the sector’s activity is suspended.
- RO will issue more Eurobonds this year only if SURE money doesn’t come in time: Romania’s Finance Ministry has planned to borrow RON 80.4 billion (EUR 16.5 bln) from the domestic market and EUR 9.3 billion from foreign markets this year, according to a presentation for foreign investors, consulted by Profit.ro. The planning suggests that Romania will issue new Eurobonds only if the money earmarked by the European Union under the SURE program aimed at supporting the labor market, doesn’t come in time to finance this year’s budget.
- Romania’s economic contraction in Q2, slightly softer than initially reported: Romania’s GDP contracted by only 11.9% in the second quarter of the year (Q2) compared to the previous quarter (Q1), in seasonally adjusted, real terms, under the revised data published by the National Statistics Institute (INS). The INS initially reported a quarterly plunge of 12.5% in Q2.
- Average net wage in RO, up 2.6% in real terms in Mar-Aug: The average net wage in Romania increased by a nominal 7.6% year-on-year to RON 3,275 (EUR 677) in August. In real terms, the average net wage rose by 4.8% year-on-year, not far from the 5.2% real increase seen in July.
- Romgaz will deliver gas to Bucharest’s heat supplier for another year: Romanian state-controlled natural gas company Romgaz has concluded a contract worth RON 525.9 million (EUR 107 mln) with Bucharest power producer Electrocentrale Bucuresti (Elcen), the company that also supplies the heat and hot water to Bucharest residents, Bursa reported. The contract was signed after incumbent mayor Gabriela Firea lost the race for a new term and new mayor Nicusor Dan promised a more sustainable strategy for the municipality’s heating system.
- 5.1% decrease in end energy consumption in Romania, on Aug 31: End electricity consumption in Romania was 35.164 billion kWh in the first eight months of this year, 5.1% lower than the similar period in 2019, while energy resources primary education decreased by 12%, and electricity by 3.1%, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INS), as reported by Agerpres.
- Romania’s trade balance deficit up by 642 million euros Jan-August: Romania’s trade balance deficit (FOB/CIF) increased in the first eight months, compared to the same period in 2019, by 642 million euros, up to the value of 11.516 billion euros, shows data released by the National Institute of Statistics (INS) on Monday, according to Agerpres.
- Annual inflation in Romania falls to 2.5pct in September 2020: The annual inflation rate in Romania fell to 2.5% in September 2020, from 2.7% in August, as food prices rose by 4.96%, services by 2.89%, and non-food goods by 0.62%, according to data released on Monday by the National Institute of Statistics (INS), as reported by Agerpres.
- 14 candidates for the position left vacant by Sorin Grindeanu at telecom watchdog ANCOM: 14 people submitted their candidacies until Monday at noon for the position of president of ANCOM. All 14 applications will be analyzed on Monday, October 12, by the IT&C Commissions of the Parliament, which will select the files that meet the legal criteria for the position of ANCOM president, and on Tuesday, October 13, the new President of ANCOM will be voted in the Parliament Plenary.