Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania
- Number of new cases reaches 1,292: The number of new cases of Covid-19 infection confirmed by tests in the last 24 hours went up to 263, according to the daily update provided by the Strategic Communication Group on Friday, March 27, at 13:00. The total number of Covid-19 infection cases confirmed by tests in Romania has thus reached 1,292. Of these, 115 patients have been declared recovered and sent home. Meanwhile, 24 people have lost their lives due to Covid-19 infection.
- 170 doctors, nurses and patients infected in Suceava: Around 170 patients and members of the medical staff at Suceava County Hospital are confirmed with coronavirus, said the Health minister Nelu Tataru, who has been on the scene to personally assess the situation up there. The minister said that the authorities are trying to re-open the hospital’s emergency room with doctors brought from Iasi, who will sort and send patients to other hospitals in Fălticeni, Rădăuți (towns in Suceava county) or Iași. The Health Minister stated that the local managemt system of healthcare units has to be changed. USR-PLUS alliance has asked the authorities today to isolate Suceava county, to place it under lockdown, to prevent further spread of the virus.
- The National Institute of Public Health has extended today the testing criteria for coronavirus to include patients with pneumonia or “no other etimology to fully explain the clinical picture.”
Political and regulatory
- Nelu Tataru, sworn-in as Health Minister: Nelu Tataru was sworn-in as Health Minister at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace on Thursday. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Friday that the same lines of action will be maintained in the fight against the new coronavirus, the fundamental goal being to defend the health and life of the citizens, to reduce the spread of the virus and to improve diagnostic capacity, he said after meeting the new Health Minister on Friday. The prime minister mentioned that he personally conveyed to the minister Nelu Tataru the request to distribute protective equipment, disinfectants to the network of family and outpatient medics, as well. In his opinion medical staff infection problems were in part due to the shortage of protection materials but especially due to procedures, like triage, not being followed. Orban called on the Minister of Health to urgently distribute the quantities of test kits purchased from South Korea, in order to increase the testing capacity. “I think at the beginning of next week we will have the capacity to increase the number of tests to 2,000,” said Orban. Premier Orban reiterated that people cannot be tested at random. Minister of Health Nelu Tataru on Friday acknowledged the importance of “re-initiating”, at local level, the procedures that both medical staff and public health directorates, hospital managers and local authorities have to put into practice and observe, in the context of the new coronavirus. According to the Minister of Health, medical personnel will have priority in testing. The Romanian College of Physicians has also requested on Thursday the “immediate testing” of all medics in the country “as a matter of priority”.
- Streinu-Cercel announced pilot project for testing 10,500 people in Bucharest: Manager of the “Matei Bals” Infectious Diseases Institute Adrian Streinu-Cercel has announced that a pilot project for testing 10,500 persons for the novel coronavirus will start in Bucharest within a scientific study. He said the new health minister Nelu Tataru has authorized the study.
- Nicolae Dragos Garofil – appointed secretary of state at Health Ministry: Nicolae Dragos Garofil has been appointed as Secretary of State at the Ministry of Health, by decision of Prime Minister Ludovic Orban published Thursday in the Official Journal. Previously, Garofil held the position of State Counselor with the Chancellery of the Prime Minister. Dan Dragos Dragan was also appointed as Secretary of State at the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Business Environment. The head of the executive also appointed Silviu Nastase on Thursday as vice-president, with the rank of undersecretary of state, of the National Authority for Veterinary and Food Safety replacing Filaret Bradatan, who was removed from office.
- Distribution outside of Romania, during pandemic, of biocidal products – temporarily suspended: The distribution outside of Romania, during the pandemic, of biocidal products used to ensure the prevention of the diseases associated with the infection with the new coronavirus has been temporarily suspended, according to an order of the Minister of Health, published in the Official Journal.
- Economy minister: Private company in Romania will produce millions of medical masks per month: A large private company in Romania will produce 150,000 medical masks per day starting next week, and will increase the production to 500,000 masks per day beginning mid-April, economy minister Virgil Popescu said on Thursday, March 26. According to the minister, this company is to eventually reach a production of 16-17 million masks a month, local News.ro reported. He added that these would be masks accredited by the European Commission, “masks that are defined as medical devices, according to the standards of the National Medicines Agency.”. Asked by prime minister Ludovic Orban to check the company’s export obligations, the economy minister said that they have stopped all exports. In respect to the energy companies, Virgil Popescu gave assurances that no investment has been stopped.
- DefMin Ciuca: Army not to go out to the street with tactical gear; we support other institutions and population. Nicolae Ciuca pointed out that the role of the Army is to take over some of the objectives guarded by the structures of the Interior Ministry – the activity of the Border Police to ensure the flow and the security measures at the main border crossing points to the country and will also ensure presence points, alongside the Traffic Police, for the fluidity of traffic in the Bucharest. In the last 24 hours, more than 28,100 people, Romanian and foreign citizens, have passed through the border crossing points, about 16,800 on the entrance way and 11,300 on the exit way, the Border Police Inspectorate General (IGPF) informed on Friday. President Klaus Iohannis underscored on Thursday that the cooperation of everyone is important to be able to allow the return of European citizens to their origin countries, in the context of the coronavirus epidemic. The European Commission proposed on Friday allocating 75 million euros from the EU budget to help Member States repatriate EU citizens and an increase to EUR 80 million for the first reserve of medical equipment rescEU
- Romania can access special funds during the pandemic: European Parliament (EP) has approved on Thursday an aid package for Member States worth 37 billion euros to fight the coronavirus pandemic. For the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Member States will be able to also access EUR 800 million from the EU Solidarity Fund, initially intended for support in case of natural disasters.
- Romania gets EC’s green light to buy medical equipment of EUR 10 M: The Romanian president announced on Thursday that Romania is the first member state that received the European Commission’s green light to start the necessary procurement procedures to buy medical equipment within the limit of EUR 10 million. “The EU has agreed on setting up a strategic supply of medical equipment, within the European Mechanism of Civil Protection, destined to preventing various crises and disasters, such as the current epidemic.
- Electoral Authority asks for the delay of local elections, PM to consult the political parties: The Permanent Electoral Authority (AEP) has sent a letter to President Iohannis, PM Orban and the Parliament’s Speakers, asking for the postponement of the local elections envisaged for June-end amid the current Coronavirus crisis. PM Ludovic Orban has retorted that he would summon political parliamentary parties for consultations to discuss this issue.
- The Chairman of Pro Romania party, Victor Ponta, on Thursday urged Prime Minister Ludovic Orban to resign from office, on his Facebook page, maintaining that the solution would be a national union government headed by secretary of state with the Interior Ministry Raed Arafat.
- Social Democratic Party (PSD) interim Chairman Marcel Ciolacu and Social Democrat MEP Victor Negrescu had a videoconference on Thursday with heads of state and governments, as well as European left-wing party leaders about the measures that must be taken in Europe and nationwide to deal with the coronavirus crisis. Ensuring medical equipment for all member states and developing a common response in the EU for the economic re-launch is a first step, he said.
- Florin Cîțu: GEO on deferring loan installments payment applicable from next week: Minister of Finance Florin Cîțu, explained today the measures taken regarding the suspension of credit instalments. He says the rules for implementing the GEO will be released next week. From that moment, applications for suspension paying credit installments can be evaluated. In order to help banks that will face liquidity following the process of suspending credit installments for the population and business loans, the National Bank of Romania took several decisions aimed at helping banks during this period, including deferral from a number of fees that had to be paid to the bank resolution fund.
- The Government amended the Ordinance 30/2020, following the feedback received, and simplified the procedure by which the state pays the technical unemployment for the employees affected by the effects of the coronavirus epidemic, said the Minister of Labor, Violeta Alexandru. The payments from the Government will be made earlier, in just 15 days from submitting the application to AJOFM, as opposed to 30 days, as it was before, said the minister.
Impact on the economy
- Philip Morris, record donation of one million dollars: The Red Cross received today one of the largest donations: one million dollars from Philip Morris Romania. Other companies that announced donations include: Enel – another 100.000 euro, Electrica 240.000 de euro, Coca-Cola 200.000 de euro, DB Global Technology 88.000 euro. Romaqua Group Borsec announced donating RON 500,000 to Matei Balş şi Victor Babeș hospitals.
- Romanian Fiscal Council head floats idea of “solidarity tax” to support fight against Covid-19: The head of the Romanian Fiscal Council, Daniel Daianu, proposed the creation of a temporary solidarity tax that will be levied to incomes above a certain threshold, with the aim of financing the fight against coronavirus (Covid-19). Supporters of the idea also include UNPR head Gabriel Oprea.
- Biggest private healthcare provider in Romania cuts costs, moves temporarily online; The management of the MedLife medical network, the leader of the private medical services market in Romania, has taken several measures to limit the impact of the crisis caused by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on its business.
- Biggest retailer in Romania offers its employees bonuses totaling EUR 1.6 mln amid Covid-19 crisis: Kaufland Romania, the biggest retailer in Romania, part of German Schwarz Groupe, offers a bonus of EUR 1.6 million to its “first line” teams in shops and warehouses, and introduces the immediate payment of the extra hours made in this period, according to the internal criteria, the company announced in a press release.
- BCR expects Romania’s economy to contract by 4.7% this year: Romania’s second biggest lender, BCR, part of Austrian Erste Bank Group, expects the country’s economy to contract by 4.7% this year under the circumstances of severe eurozone recession amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Polish group CIECH closes Romanian soda ash factory but promises to return: Soda ash producer CIECH Soda Romania, part of Polish group CIECH, announced on Thursday that it was “forced” to enter into “a prolonged stand-by”, in the context of the economic uncertainties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and after unsuccessful negotiations for the resumption of industrial steam supply to the factory.
- Romanian researchers start lab testing Covid-19 vaccine: Researchers working with the Center for Gene and Cellular Therapies in the Treatment of Cancer – OncoGen in Timişoara, in western Romania, have started testing a Covid-19 vaccine, the center announced. The vaccine is currently meant for laboratory testing on human cells.
- Car repair garages announce suspension of parts imports, while some might even close down in this period
- 23 distribution centers ensure the daily supply of nine big retail chains in Romania: A number of 23 distribution centers supply daily the stores of the nine of the largest retailers throughout the country, working during this period at maximum capacity, to ensure that the population finds all the products it needs on the shelves, shows an analysis conducted by Dunwell.
- The National Bank of Romania warned today of narrower room available to fiscal policy for taking measures to support both companies and households in its minutes of the monetary policy meeting from March 20.