Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania

  • Wednesday afternoon update: 4,761 cases of Coronavirus confirmed in Romania (344 new cases from the last reporting). Of this total, 528 persons have been declared cured and have been discharged from hospitals. Death toll due to Covid-19 infection reached to 209.
  • The Ministry of Health confirmed on Tuesday evening, April 7, the first death from infection with the new coronavirus (COVID-19) among the medical personnel. The victim is a 53-year old ambulance driver from the Suceava County Ambulance Service. So far, a total of 699 healthcare workers in Romania tested positive for COVID-19, the Health Ministry also said, quoting data from the National Institute of Public Health.
  • ANSVSA: Two more veterinary laboratories to process tests for SARS-CoV-2: Two more sanitary veterinary laboratories from the Satu Mare and Bistrita Nasaud counties will start to process this week tests for detecting coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, informs the National Sanitary Veterinary and for Food Safety Authority (ANSVSA) in a press release.  Moreover, in the next period, sanitary-veterinary units in the Arad, Olt, Braila, Prahova and Tulcea counties will also process tests for coronavirus.
  • 10 new born from Timisoara infected with COVID-19 in the maternity ward: Ten new born babies born at the maternity of Timisoara Hospital are infected with COVID-19, while their mother tested negative. Health minister Nelu Tatary has asked for an urgent inquiry in this case. Soon after, the Prosecutor’s Office upon Timisoara Court has announced a criminal file had been opened in this case, under the charge of foiling disease control.
  • Key people coordinating the COVID-19 medical crisis for each country region, designated: Cătălin Smarandache, Lucian Blăguţiu, Rodica Duma, Lucian Indrei, Cristina Schipor, Neagu Găbița, Miruna Constantin and Horia Timiş are the coordinators of the COVID-19 medical crisis at regional level. The decision appears in an Order of the Minister of Health, published in the Official Gazette.

 

Political and regulatory

 

  • Romania to come up with second economic package after Covid-19 epidemic peak: Romania’s Government will come up with a second package of measures to stimulate the economy after the coronavirus (COVID-19) peak passes, economy minister Virgil Popescu announced on Tuesday, April 7, in an interview with Hotnews.ro. The first package was aimed at supporting households, since a healthy workforce is indispensable for the proper functioning of an economy, while the second package will be targeted at supporting the corporate sector. The package will include fiscal measures, capital infusion and grants – not necessarily loans, minister Popescu said. The public investments are also important for economic recovery therefore the planned investments will not be trimmed down – even if this will result in a wider budget deficit. Finance minister Florin Citu assured that financing the budget deficit will not be a problem, according to the economy minister. He also pointed out that Romania only imports masks and not RT-PCR tests from China, which are imported from South Korea, given reports of unreliable Chinese test kits imported in Europe from this country. He added that, on a positive note, Romania’s intention is to become less dependent from essential materials imports from China and produce its own in the country. He assured that the state will place orders even after the crisis passes as it wants to restore its national stocks.
  • A third NATO flight bringing medical supplies from South Korea to Romania. U.S. covered the transport costs: NATO is helping Romania again to bring the medical supplies necessary for the coronavirus crisis from South Korea. A new air transport operated by a Strategic Airlift Capability C-17 Globemaster IIII aircraft has flown around 100,000 protection coveralls destined to the medical staff from Seoul to Bucharest. The  transports costs are covered by the United States, reads a press release by the Ministry of Defense. The Romanian ministry of Defense has asked the Multinational Strategic Transport Unit that is operating at Papa Air Base in Hungary to undertake a new emergency air mission to transport another 45 tons of medical protection equipment from Seoul to Bucharest. Referring to the third SAC C-17 flight from South Korea to Romania, U.S. Ambassador to Romania Adrian Zuckerman said that the U.S. are proud to help Romania in this case. Separately, Tarom national flag carrier will fly 4 tons of medical equipment from China to Romania on Thursday, local media reported. More precisely, there will be 300,000 FFP2 surgical masks transported from Shenzhen to Bucharest. The transport will be operated by a Boeing 737-800 NG  cargo aircraft and is scheduled to land on Thursday, April 9. Also, on the night of April 6 to April 7, an Antonov AN 124, one of the largest cargo aircraft in the world, arrived from China to Bucharest carrying medical supplies. “It is the largest medical cargo flight, with medical supplies purchased from China; it is the first such flight on this plane in Europe,” Adrian Ionel, the director of state-owned distributor Unifarm, said, quoted by Mediafax. He explained that 12 other flights will bring medical supplies to Romania this month: protective masks, protective glasses, protective suits, medical equipment, and reagents. Minister of Health, Nelu Tataru, praised Unifarm, and said the protective materials and equipment will be distributed starting on Tuesday evening to all the medical units in the country, beginning with those on the front line of the battle against the novel coronavirus.
  • President Iohannis: After we overcome this crisis, we need to rethink Romanian healthcare system: President Klaus Iohannis has participated on Tuesday in the signing ceremony of the Biennial Collaborative Agreement between the World Health Organisation – the Regional Office for Europe and Romania’s Health Ministry, context in which he said that after the crisis created by the coronavirus will be overcome, those responsible should rethink the Romanian healthcare system.
  • The first thermal scanner 100% made in Romania produced by the national defense industry: The Romanian defense industry has reconfigured during this period to produce equipment needed in the fight against the novel coronavirus. A 100% Romanian thermal scanner has been developed and produced by the national defense industry, the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Business Environment announced. The product has been named Condor-SR-FS and it can be used to control access to areas transited by a high flows of people, to reduce the time needed to check if a person has fever in airports, subway, border checkpoints, hospitals (triage), public institutions and others.
  • Political parties ask Romanian Govt. to work with Parliament on a national plan: All the political parties in Romania’s Parliament, except for the ruling party – PNL, have sent a letter to prime minister Ludovic Orban asking him that the Government works together with the Parliament to draft a national plan to help the Romanians and companies affected by the new coronavirus pandemic. “All parties, except PNL, have agreed to unite in the Parliament and speak with one voice when it comes to urgent measures that are required in support of Romanians and the business environment,” Marcel Ciolacu, the leader of the biggest party in the Parliament – PSD, wrote on Facebook, local Hotnews.ro reported. “We have agreed to ask PM Orban for a weekly meeting with the parliamentary parties about the measures to exit the crisis. We also ask the prime minister to send to the Parliament all the measures he is considering during this period. We think a serious debate on these measures can contribute to their improvement for the benefit of the whole society,” USR leader Dan Barna wrote in turn. “We have a majority that can fundamentally change everything the Government decides, but we do not want this, we want a dialogue. We are concerned and worried. We would have wanted a dialogue,” Calin Popescu Tariceanu said on Tuesday on private broadcaster Romania TV.
  • Romania’s Govt. holds first informal consultations with investors: Romanian prime minister Ludovic Orban had a discussion behind closed doors on Tuesday, April 7, with representatives of the Coalition for Romania’s Development (CDR), an organization that brings together the most important business associations in Romania, most of which represent large multinational corporations. The budget was high on the agenda, since the Government is preparing to operate the first budget revision – in fact, redo the budget planning for the year, after the coronavirus pandemic has hit the country. Even some large companies, which hold enough cash, prefer taking advantage of the facility allowed by the Government and defer their payments to the budget as long as the outlook for economic recovery looks uncertain, according to sources familiar to the discussions, quoted by Ziarul Financiar daily. However, the CDR members are discussing the option of making the necessary payments to the budget on time. As regards the Government’s own resources (not including the disbursements from the European Union), prime minister Ludovic Orban implied that they are rather limited. Romania can count only on EUR 1 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), because the country has been running chronic wide current account deficits, PM Orban reportedly explained to the CDR representatives.
  • The Baccalaureate and other final exams “maybe in July”, Romanian minister says: The written tests of the National Evaluation (at the end of 8th grade) and the Baccalaureate examination (at the end of high school – 12th grade) could be organized in July, depending on the date when the courses will resume, Romania’s minister of education Monica Anisie announced on Tuesday, April 7, in a public statement. The exact date for resuming the courses will be determined based on the evolution of the coronavirus pandemic as well as the measures communicated by the National Committee for Emergency Situations.
  • PM Orban meets pharmaceutical industry representatives: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban has stated on Tuesday that a goal of the Government is to boost the domestic production of medicines, biocides and medical equipment, so that the risk of syncope be reduced in terms of supply in crisis situations. He met with representatives of producers and distributors of the pharmaceutical industry. Orban welcomed the announcement made by Antibiotice Iasi regarding the resumption of production of two medicines demanded by the market, namely Paracetamol and Novocalmin.
  • PM Orban has met representatives of large retailers: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban assured, at the meeting he had on Tuesday with the representatives of the large retail networks in the food area, that the Government wants to maintain the purchasing power of the population and to stay prepared to restart the economy, “with all the instruments at its disposal.” Moreover, the PM thanked the representatives of the big retailers for their behavior during this difficult time, when the activity needs to be maintained at normal parameters, and assured them that he will analyze their proposals and turn them into measures as soon as possible. In their turn, the representatives of the AMRCR assured that all stores are open, there are no issues with the transport of goods and the stocks are sufficient. Minister of Agriculture Adrian Oros again warned that the capping of basic food prices would endanger small producers (a bill initiated by PSD, currenly at the Deputies Chamber). PSD interim chairman Marcel Ciolacu wrote on Facebook that after discussing on Monday with AMRCR representatives he would consider amendments from large retailers and that capping prices at the level of the past three months might be a solution at the moment.
  • Romania to host EU stockpile of medical equipment: Romania is the first EU country that volunteered to purchase and host, on behalf of the European Union, a stockpile of ventilators, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, told the public television TVR. A total of 150 ventilators have already been ordered and will reach Romania before being sent to countries that need them, including Spain and in Italy.
  • HealthMin Tataru: We discuss military management at the Deva Hospital: Minister of Health Nelu Tataru on Tuesday stated in Brasov that the authorities are currently discussing the possibility to appoint a military management team at the Deva Hospital, in the context of the resignations of the current manager and medical director at this healthcare facility. He also specified that, at this point, the solution of military management has not been taken into consideration for the University Hospital in the Capital City. On the same occasion, he said some physicians working at the Suceava County Hospital believe the military management “is rather extreme,” but it was necessary to impose strictness.
  • The Minister of Economy advances the deadline of April 15 when there will be no more shortages of protection masks: The production of Romanian surgical masks can reach 1 million pieces daily starting from April 15, so that from that time there will be no problems with the supply of masks, the Minister of Economy, Energy and Business, Virgil Popescu, said on Wednesday on Digi24.

 

Impact on the economy

  • Largest Romanian airline asks Govt. for EUR 45 mln rescue loan: Blue Air, the largest Romanian air carrier and the second-biggest player on the local market, after Hungarian rival Wizz Air, has asked the Government for a rescue loan at a preferential interest rate. The size of the loan Blue Air has requested from the Government is EUR 42-45 million, according to sources familiar with the request quoted by Hotnews.ro.
  • Romanian hotel owners ask Govt. to help seasonal workers at risk: The unemployment rate among the workers in the hotel and restaurant sector has already reached 60% and risks reaching 90% in the next period, taking into account the current conditions, according to the representatives of the Federation of Romanian Tourism Employers (FPTR), local Economica.net reported.
  • Romania’s budget revenues reportedly EUR 1 bln below target in Q1: The revenues to Romania’s state budget lagged EUR 1 bln (nearly 0.5% of year’s GDP) behind target at the end of the first quarter (Q1) of this year, Economica.net has reported quoting government sources.
  • Sales of new cars in Romania shrink by one third in March: The number of new cars registered in Romania decreased in March 2020 by 32% compared to March 2019, to a volume of 6,654 units. Thus, during the first three months of 2020, the number of new cars registered reached 27,979 units, down 22% compared to the similar period of 2019, according to the Association of Automobile Builders in Romania (ACAROM).
  • Romania seeks EUR 1 bln loan from IBRD to fight Covid-19 effects: Romania’s Government approved in its meeting on Monday, April 7, a memorandum empowering the Ministry of Finance to negotiate a loan with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) “to ensure the liquidity needed during the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” government sources told G4Media.ro. The terms of the deal include a maturity of up to 20 years.
  • Romania’s Govt. asks the EU for EUR 810 mln for first five measures against Covid-19: Romania’s Government has summarized first five measures taken to mitigate the effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, summing up total expenditures in amount of EUR 810 million, which are going to be submitted for disbursement to the European Union, EU funds minister Marcel Bolos announced after the Government meeting on Monday, April 6.
  • Supermarket chain Mega Image announced to award a bonus of 25% for each work day in this period as of March 9 for its employees in supermarkets and warehouses, who are at the frontline and risk exposure to the virus.
  • Construction companies: Technical unemployment is the last option to be used. We support the continuation of the activity, where possible: The Federation of Employers of Construction Companies (FPSC) considers that technical unemployment is the last option to be used by the companies in the field, and the facility should not be seen as a facility that all companies “should take advantage of”, but as a support to those who, in a real and provable way, are forced to access this aid.