Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania
- Monday afternoon update: 1,952 cases of Coronavirus confirmed in Romania. Of this total, 180 persons have been declared cured and have been discharged from hospitals. Death toll due to Covid-19 infection reached to 44.
Political and regulatory
- Interior Minister Vela presented new measures on prevention of COVID-19 spread: Interior Minister Marcel Vela, in a press statement at the Interior Ministry (MAI) headquarters on Sunday, presented new measures meant to prevent and manage the COVID-19 epidemic spread, provided by Military Ordinance 4. One of these measures clarifies the circulation of persons over 65, providing that they can solve their medical problems during the entire day. Another measure in Ordinance 4 provides that those who break the rules of home isolation will be placed in quarantine and will be forced to cover all the expenses. Furthermore, the Interior Minister announced that prices for electricity, thermal energy, natural gas, water supply, sanitation and fuel cannot be increased over the level existing on the date of issuance of the current military ordinance (March 29). These prices can only go down, depending on offer and demand, they cannot be increased in any circumstance, Minister Vela highlighted. Vela also announced new requirements for drivers of over 2.4 ton trucks, pilots and navigating staff in the epidemic context, provided in Ordinance 4, respectively to protect their families they have to isolate themselves between trips for up to 14 days in a space provided by either their employer, by their family or accommodations provided by local authorities. Access of ships in ports and ship inspection is carried out without restrictions, however the access of pilots onboard ships coming from risk areas is strictly forbidden without protection equipment. To ensure the production, transport and distribution of electricity and natural gas, the employers in this sector also have to take measures of preventive isolation for the essential personnel at the workplace or in specially designated areas for a period established by the employer, including for personnel in the extraction, production and processing area. Furthermore, the ordinance clarifies that the circulation limit of no more three people in a group only applies to pedestrians and not road transport.
- Authorities are ready to move to fourth scenario as number of Covid-19 infection cases nears 2,000; numbers to spike in the next two weeks: Romania is getting close to the fourth scenario of the new coronavirus pandemic as the number of confirmed cases is nearing the 2,000 threshold. Once this level is reached, the mild and moderate Covid-19 infection cases will be treated at home and only the critical cases will be treated in hospitals, in the infectious diseases and intensive care (ATI) sections, health minister Nelu Tataru said on Saturday evening at Realitatea Plus Tv channel. Tataru expects the maximum of the Covid-19 pandemic to be recorded in Romania at the middle of April, when the number of confirmed cases could reach 10,000. Some 200,000 Romanians have returned to the country since the Covid-19 outbreak started in Italy and 200,000 more could return by Easter, the health minister said at Digi24 news channel. He estimates that about 10-20% of Romanians who have come to the country lately could have been infected, without presenting symptoms, and could have transmitted the disease. According to Nelu Tataru, in scenario 4, testing will be extended to “everyone which is considered medical personnel”. A number of 21,460 tests were completed up to now at the national level, of which 1,400 in private medical units, the Strategic Communication Group (GCS) informed on Sunday.
- DSU’s Arafat: Patients cannot be refused admission; refusal falls under criminal law: Head of the Emergency Situations Department (DSU) Raed Arafat drew attention on Sunday evening over the fact that patients cannot be refused admission, even if there is no confirmation of the infection with COVID-19 and the refusal of admission falls under the criminal law. He explained that a new order has been issued in this regard, after having existed several refusal situations. Furthermore, during the state of emergency, the medical staff cannot refuse secondment or delegation to another medical facility, if such secondment or delegation is needed. Arafat added that a military hospital in Constanta, similar to the one erected near Bucharest, will become operational as soon as possible, and will be staffed by the local CFR Hospital. The ROL 2 Military Field Hospital in Otopeni, near Bucharest, has been installed on Saturday, with President Klaus Iohannis paying a visit on the venue. President Klaus Iohannis stated on Saturday, that things will continue to be grave and that an increase in the number of patients is expected, yet he said the state is preparing better and better to overcome this very difficult time.
- Authorities increase penalties for those who don’t respect Covid-19 restrictions: The Romanian authorities have decided to increase the penalties for people who don’t respect the restrictions enforced to limit the spreading of the new coronavirus (Covid-19). Fines have been lifted to between a minimum of RON 2,000 (EUR 414) and a maximum of RON 20,000 (EUR 4,140).
- Romanian companies get 5-10% bonus for paying Q1 profit tax on time: All Romanian companies subject to profit taxation will get a 5-10% discount, if they choose to pay their taxes for the first quarter’s profits by the legal deadline, namely by April 25, finance minister Florin Citu has announced.
- Defence Ministry: Second 45-ton medical equipment transport from South Korea arrived on Otopeni Airport: The C-17 Globemaster III that was conducting a second transport of medical equipment from South Korea, 45 tons in all, landed on the Otopeni Airport on Saturday. The equipment, consisting of another 100,000 protective coveralls, were acquired by the Romanian state through the National Office for Centralized Acquisitions and the General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations.
- Minister of Agriculture, Dan Oros, stresses that capping food prices is a bad idea, pointing out that “if the state brutally intervenes and sets prices at the shelves, without previous negations between supply chain actors, those who are most affected and can go bankrupt are the small producers, which is something that we do not want.”
- Minister of Economy, Energy and Business Environment, Virgil Popescu, announced that on Sunday production of the first protective masks in Romania has started at Techtex SRL, a company in Bihor, member of the Taparo group, whose main activity is the manufacturing of non-woven textiles.
- LabMin Alexandru: No risk of pensions not being paid; we’re trying to pay them earlier: The funds for pensions and social benefits have been embedded in the budget and we are trying to reach beneficiaries even earlier, says Minister of Labour and Social Protection Violeta Alexandru.
- President Iohannis meeting with Prime Minister and several ministers, from 12.30 pm: President Klaus Iohannis will have a meeting to assess the measures regarding the management of the coronavirus crisis with Prime Minister Ludovic Orban and several Government members on Monday, at 12.30 pm. At the end of the meeting, the President will hold a press statement.
Impact on the economy
- RO automotive companies join forces to produce medical ventilators: The Romanian companies in the automotive industry have formed a group with the aim of starting production of medical mechanical ventilators needed for the treatment of Covid-19 patients in local hospitals, economy minister Virgil Popescu has announced, News.ro reported. The companies in the automotive industry are already working on a prototype of a medical ventilator. However, they are also willing to produce such devices based on existing patents, minister Popescu said. Separately, state owned military equipment company Romarm is about to start the production of surgical masks in Romania, in order to create a strategic reserve. At maximum capacity, Romarm will produce 500,000 masks per day starting April 15. Doctors working in hospitals throughout Romania have been complaining about the lack of basic protection equipment in recent weeks and over 10% of the confirmed coronavirus infection cases are among the medical personnel.
- Romania’s public deficit, already up 60% y/y before Covid-19: Romania’s public deficit increased to RON 8.3 billion (EUR 1.7 bln) in the first two months of this year, according to the data published by the Finance Ministry. The deficit recorded in January and February accounts for 0.73% of the GDP projected for the full year, before the Covid-19 crisis hit. Separately, ING Bank Romania has revised downward sharply its projection for Romania’s GDP growth this year, less than two weeks after the previous forecast, from minus 0.9% to minus 6.6%.
- Electrolux closes factory in northwestern Romania: Swedish group Electrolux has temporarily closed its gas oven factory in Satu Mare, northwestern Romania, where it has 850 employees, due to lack of orders. Company officials say this is a short-term measure.
- Superbet gambling operator donates RON 1 million, which will be used for the purchase of medical equipment for healthcare professionals.
- Cars wait in line for five hours to enter Romania through Nadlac II border crossing point: People arriving at the Nadlac II border crossing point on Monday around noon seeking to enter the country are forced to wait in line for at least five hours for the transit procedures, because they come in very large numbers. “We are currently operating eight entry lanes, but the number of passenger cars having arrived at the Nadlac II checkpoint for transit is extremely large. And we also need to carry out the medical controls to stop preventing the COVID-19,” said the spokesman of the Arad Border Police, Filip Ionut Matei. Within 24 hours, from 8.00 am on Sunday to 8.00 am on Monday, as many as 5,900 persons entered Romania through the Nadlac II border crossing point, with 2,300 transport means.
- As many as 500,000 employment contracts suspended, expected to double: Half a million individual employment contracts are currently suspended, Minister of Labour and Social Protection Violeta Alexandru said on Monday. She added that the government is ready to cover furlough benefits for one million people.
- Oltenia Energy Complex announces measures imposed to protect the employees
- The capping of the price of natural gas (together with the prices of other utilities), recently taken by the Government, favors gas importers and suppliers, and affects the consumers, the Intelligent Energy Association, which gathers professionals in the field said in a statement in reaction to the measures imposed through Military Ordinance 4.
- Allianz Euler Hermes research: COVID-19 crisis in Europe to put 13,000 corporates at risk. In Romania, insolvency risk higher by 12% in tourism, transport and services