Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania

  • 441 new cases in the past 24hrs. 5,202 cases overall: Authorities in Romania have confirmed 441 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, with the total number surging to 5,202, thus exceeding a new threshold of 5,000 infected people. Of the total persons who tested positive for the virus, 647 were declared cured and were released from hospitals . The death toll in the coronavirus epidemic climbed to 229 on Thursday morning.
  • An employee of the Ministry of Justice, from the department of budget-finances, has tested positive for COVID-19. Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu announced that the proper legal procedures were taken and the entire personnel will evacuate the headquarter, with three decontaminations to follow over the next three days

 

Political and regulatory

 

  • Romania’s PM says some of the state employees will go into technical unemployment: Romania’s Government is preparing a mechanism to send state employees into technical unemployment for limited periods of time during the state of emergency determined by the new coronavirus (COVID-19), prime minister Ludovic Orban announced on Wednesday evening, April 9, at B1 TV. Through this mechanism, about half of the employees in state institutions will go to work for 15 days while the other half will stay at home and get only 75% of their base salaries. After 15 days, they will switch places, the PM explained. Asked to comment, Finance Minister Florin Citu stated on Realitatea Plus that he did not see a draft on cutbacks for state employees yet. He also ruled out the possibility of doubling allowances for children or raising pensions by 40%, as initially stipulated in the budget for 2020.  The biggest expenditures in the budget are with social assistance and personnel, so we need to re-evaluate those sectors or that part of the budget with high expenses, to see if we can postpone them for 2021, he added.
  • Ludovic Orban speaks on medical supplies on the public radio: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban told Radio Romania Actualitati on Thursday that Romania has largely solved the shortage of equipment and drugs in the fight against coronavirus, but still has a problem with the biocidal substances used for disinfecting because the countries from where Romania imported denatured alcohol prohibited the export. “We have constantly increased our testing and diagnostic capacity. Currently we can carry out more than 4,000 tests daily, our goal is to exceed the capacity of more than 5,000 daily. (…) We had been affected by these export restrictions. At the Ministry of Defense a prototype ventilator was developed, which is currently in the testing phase and I hope we would use it as soon as possible. Also, an American company has provided us with the manufacturing blueprint and together with Dacia we are trying to start production. Together with State Secretary Arafat we decided to gather all broken ventilators and repair them,” said the Prime Minister.
  • Social Democrats amend significantly Govt’s ordinance on bank loan repayment: Romania’s Senate passed on Wednesday, April 8, the emergency ordinance through which the Government adopted a moratorium on bank loan repayment to help individuals and companies hit by the COVID-19 crisis. The Social Democrats came up with a more generous alternative to the Government’s bank loan rescheduling, promoted the bill and had it endorsed by the Parliament. Thus, the amended ordinance provides that the payment of loan instalments may be suspended until December 31, that debtors with overdue payments can qualify for the facility as well, and that the interest rate accrued on the principal debt during the grace period should not be capitalised – but repaid in installments with zero interest rate. However, for the bill conditions were imposed
  • Romanian president says he will spend Easter at home, asks Romanians to do the same: Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis said on Wednesday, April 8, that the country is not yet in a phase in which it can make plans to relax the restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19). He also said that he would spend Easter at home with his wife and asked the Romanians to do the same. The Palm Sunday and Easter services will take place this year without any believers attending because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed by the authorities on public gatherings, the Romanian Orthodox Church (BOR) announced.
  • OUG extending local public administration authorities’ terms of office published in Official Journal: Emergency Ordinance No. 44/2020 that extends the terms of office of local public administration authorities, lays out a set of measures for the organization of 2020 local elections and also amends the Government’s Emergency Ordinance No. 57/2019 on the Administrative Code was published in the Official Journal. The procedures for the organization of elections for the local public administration authorities are initiated within 6 months from the end of the state of emergency, the regulatory document stipulates.
  • PM Orban: Forecasts show we may have negative economic growth between minus 1 – minus 3 pct: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban stated, on Wednesday, that the forecasts indicate a negative effect in the economy which may lead to a negative economic growth ranging between minus 1 and minus 3 pct. “We saw 30 billion euro, 15 pct of the GDP – these are stories. We haven’t finished the evaluation yet. A very serious evaluation will be possible around April 15, because we need to see the effects on April as well, because we don’t have all the consequences factored in for March, there are still movements in the economy that are not always positive, but on the contrary there are negative movements, companies continue to reduce their activity, layoffs are occurring. I can ensure Romanians that we will use intelligently any available resource in order to bring Romania to working order,” Orban told private broadcaster B1 TV, when asked what amount Romania needs to overcome the current situation.
  • PM Orban: Returning to normal depends a great deal on how Romanians observe rules: Returning to normal depends a great deal on how Romanians understand to observe the rules and recommendations from the authorities, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban stated on Wednesday, when he made an appeal to Romanians “to hang on.” In turn, President Klaus Iohannis emphasized on Wednesday the need for the strict observance of the measures imposed by the authorities to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, so that a relaxation can follow. The President cautioned that if the restriction measures are relaxed too fast, we could end up “with these measures having to be extended for months and nobody wants that.”
  • PM tells representatives of creative industries that Gov’t will come up with solutions to remedy problems: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban told representatives of creative industries, at a meeting that took place on Wednesday, that the Government will come up with solutions and resources to remedy the dysfunctionalities in the field caused by the coronavirus pandemic and by the protection measures imposed by the situation.
  • Ciolacu: STS system is implemented; Parliament is fully functional: President of the Deputies Chamber Marcel Ciolacu on Wednesday stated that the Special Telecommunication System has been implemented for the meetings to be held during the state of emergency so that the Parliament is “fully functional” at this point.
  • PSD announces COVID-19 Lockdown Tracker app monitoring quarantined subjects is completed: The Social Democratic Party (PSD) announced on Thursday the completion of the COVID-19 Lockdown Tracker app for monitoring the persons under a forced isolation or quarantine order. The app was developed by Alexandru Petrescu – leader of BMM Testlabs’ global cybersecurity initiative – in cooperation with a group of Romanian cyber security experts.
  • HealthMin Tataru says coronavirus cases in Romania to increase in next two-three weeks: Health Minister Nelu Tataru said in Sibiu on Wednesday that there will be another two weeks in which the number of COVID-19 cases in Romania will increase, and there will also be deaths, which is why the population must protect itself.
  • Military team takes over medical, operational management of the Deva County Hospital: A team of the Defence Ministry (MApN) consisting of four commissioned officers took over the medical and operational management of the Deva County Hospital on Wednesday, according to a statement released by the ministry.
  • Ombudsman calling for logging to stop during state of emergency: Romania’s Ombudsman on Wednesday posted an own petition on its website, calling attention to logging.
  • Pro Romania leader Victor Ponta reacted after the Minister of Transport announced it ask the European Commission for aid to save national airliner Tarom. The Government should act directly to save Tarom and Blue Air and not wait for EU’s help which might come in six months, Victor Ponta stated on Facebook.
  • ALDE leader Calin Popescu Tariceanu called for the gradual resumption of activity, possibly after Easter, and calls on the Government to provide masks for protection, at affordable prices. According to the ALDE Senator, in order for people to get out of their homes and go to work, the Government need to make sure that they can buy protective masks at decent prices. “I’m not saying we have to go back tomorrow, but I do say we have to make plans to come back as soon as possible. It annoys me that the government members refuse any discussion on this subject: what are the best measures we can take so that after Easter we can go back to work, maybe gradually back to work? “, Tariceanu wrote on Facebook on Thursday.

 

Impact on the economy

  • Dacia resumes production at its Mioveni plants in two stages, on April 21 and May 4: Dacia has announced it is resuming production at its plants in Mioveni in two phases: on April 21 and on May 4, under safety and social distancing conditions, with skeleton crews. Dacia had halted its activity in Mioveni factory in March, likewise other automotive companies with production units in Romania. The other car producer in Romania, the Ford plant in Craiova, also stopped operations on March 19 and is expected to also resume production at the beginning of May.
  • The World Bank revises Romania’s economic growth estimates to 0.3% in 2020, from the 3.8% it estimated three months ago
  • Number of jobs suspended or terminated in RO amid Covid-19 crisis hits 1.2 million: As many as 1.0 million labour contracts, out of a total of 6.5 million, have been suspended since the state of emergency was introduced in March 16 and the Government decided to support the companies negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and related restrictions by paying from the state budget the technical unemployment benefits.
  • More than half of exporters estimate export contractions in March 2020: Over 50pct of the exporters, who held 62pct of Romania’s exports in March last year, estimate export contractions in March 2020, according to some experimental statistical research on the volume of foreign trade operations, conducted by the National Institute of Statistics (INS).
  • Official statistics: Romania’s Jan – Feb trade deficit at 2.6 billion euros: Romania’s (FOB/CIF) trade balance increased by 170.8 million euros in the first two months of the year compared to the same period of 2019, to almost 2.6 billion euros, shows the data published by the National Institute of Statistics (INS) on Thursday.
  • Cooperation during COVID-19 pandemic: Drug producer borrows employees from Ikea to cope with high demand: The Romanian subsidiary of Czech drug producer Zentiva has signed a partnership with the local subsidiary of Swedish group Ikea, the biggest furniture and home décor retailer in the world, through which 18 employees of Ikea Romania will work at Zentiva for a period of three months. The new employees will be integrated into the Zentiva factory’s operations to cover the increased production determined by higher demand for drugs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Canadian investor will bring 90 mln masks from China to Romania to meet high demand amid Covid-19 pandemic: Romanian company Naguma Medical Supply SRL, controlled by the family of Canadian investor Michael Topolinski – known mainly for his real estate investments in Romania, will import 90 million masks from China, in the context of the dire need for protective equipment against the new Coronavirus. The first of 30 transport flights contracted with Blue Air, carrying 3 million masks, landed on Wednesday afternoon (April 8), the company announced on the same day.
  • Biggest online retailer in Romania starts selling masks with no retail margin to meet COVID-19 demand: Romania’s biggest online retailer eMAG gas started selling protection masks and says that it has over 7 million masks in stock to address the demand from customers. The retailer claims that it charges no retail margin for the masks and the price for a box containing 50 items is RON 146.83 (EUR 30.2), resulting in a price per piece of under RON 3.
  • Covid-19 pandemic: Facebook’s Community Help feature available in Romania: Facebook’s Community Help feature is now available in Romania, allowing users to request help or support those affected by Covid-19, the company announced.

Fixed-line internet traffic rises by 20% in RO during lockdown: Total data traffic increased through mobile networks increased, on average, by 12% in the last week of March compared to the last week of February, while the traffic through fixed networks went up 20.9% in the same period, according to data published by Romania’s telecom regulator – ANCOM