Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania

  • 246 more cases, 6,879 overall: Until Tuesday, April 14, 6,879 cases of COVID-19 have been registered in Romania, with 246 new ones in the past 24 hours. Among the total number of infections, 1,051 patients were cured and discharged from hospitals, according to the Strategic Communication Group. Most cases of persons infected with the novel coronavirus have been recorded in the Suceava County – 1,733 and in Bucharest – 789, until now. There are currently 241 patients admitted in intensive care. Death toll reached to 346. To date, 70,097 tests have been processed at national level. The Strategic Communication Group adds that approximately 45 tons of medical equipment, consisting of 100 thousand protective suits, will be brought to the country, between April 13 and 17, with transport aircraft belonging to the Romanian Air Force.

 

Political and regulatory

 

  • Klaus Iohannis extends state of emergency by 30 days: President Klaus Iohannis has signed on Tuesday, April 14, the decree extending the state of emergency in Romania by 30 more days. The president explained that all the restrictions currently in force remain valid. The decree maintains that prices can be capped for drugs, medical equipment, basic food, and utilities (power, gas, waste, water, fuels), adding that if power and natural gas prices drop on regional markets the Government will take the necessary measures for these decreases to be transferred partially or fully to the end-consumers. The Government will take all measures to ensure the food security of the citizens. Courts will continue to judge only cases of extreme emergency. For non-fulfillment of work duties, emergency measures can be taken, up to dismissals in hospitals, Public Health Departments, health insurance houses, ambulance services, central and local public institutions. The decree eliminates notices in layoff situations for managers in the healthcare or social assistance systems. Throughout the state of emergency the management of public healthcare units can be ensured by personnel dispatched from national security and defense institutions. Electronic communications providers have the obligation to ensure the integrity of their networks. Schools remain closed throughout the state of emergency. “It’s precisely the bleak scenario we wanted to avoid. Firm and early actions save lives. The danger is not gone. And a relaxation of restrictions as I see some politicians are recklessly asking for would prompt a rise in cases and a huge pressure for the national healthcare system. Stay home in order to prevent ending up on a hospital bed. Stay home for us to recover as soon as possible”, President Iohannis pointed out at the press conference. The decree is to be published in the Official Gazette. Parliament must vote the extension within five days. Opposition parties previously announced that they will set conditions for the parliamentary approval of the decree extending the state of emergency. Of the opposition parties, USR is so far the only party that announced to vote in favor of the decree. More positions and negotiations are expected in the coming days.
  • IntMin Vela: We will take measures so that Romanians can enjoy Easter celebrations: Minister of Interior Marcel Vela on Tuesday informed in Azuga that after discussing the matter with the Romanian Patriarchy they established a series of measures to allow the faithful “to enjoy” the Easter celebrations. A new military ordinance will be issued on Tuesday or Wednesday, with some clarifications regarding Easter holidays, Marcel Vela said. Asked by the journalists how long the restrictions for the citizens will last, he said he cannot say at present. Health Minister Nelu Tătaru said however that the restrictions imposed in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic cannot be eased before May 15-20, even June 1. He explained that the easing of restrictions would be done progressively and cautiously.
  • Romania’s novel coronavirus testing strategy might change: Senior official with Romania’s Ministry of Health Horatiu Moldovan said on Tuesday that there is talk of changing the country’s COVID-19 testing strategy, given that in two weeks’ time there could be more than 7,000 tests per day. He said that an increase in the number of tests for the frontline doctors and dialysis patients is being considered.
  • EduMin Anisie: I’ve signed order on new timetable for national exams: Minister of Education and Research Monica Anisie on Monday announced that she has signed the order – which will be published in the Official Journal – regarding the new programming for the national evaluation and the Baccalaureate, to be based on the courses studied before the second semester started.
  • ALDE’s Tariceanu on prolongation of state of emergency: They ask a blank cheque, without measures, I cannot agree: ALDE’s (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats) leader Calin Popescu-Tariceanu on Monday stated that he doesn’t agree to just give “a blank cheque” for the prolongation of the state of emergency by another 30 days, when there isn’t any measure plan in the medical field and for resuming general activity.
  • Romanian researchers develop online platform to fight Covid-19 disinformation: Romanian researchers working at the Romanian Bioinformatics Society and UEFISCDI, an institution of the Education Ministry that coordinates various research programs, have developed an informative platform meant to combat Covid-19 related fake news.

 

Impact on the economy

  • FinMin Citu: We have a buffer for at least 5 months; salary on time for administrative apparatus: The Ministry of Finance has a financial reserve that will be enough for another 4 – 5 months, or even more, and the Government hasn’t discussed the possibility of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund yet, the Minister of Public Finance, Florin Citu, told Digi 24 private television broadcaster. “At this point, we are not discussing something like this [an agreement with the IMF – editor’s note],” said Citu. The Minister also said the administrative apparatus is battling the current crisis on the front line and that the members of the administrative apparatus shouldn’t worry about their salaries. Finance Minister Florin Citu says it is difficult to talk now about short-time working in the public sector, because the measure is difficult to interpret, cannot be applied uniformly and the entire administrative apparatus is needed in the fight against the coronavirus crisis. On the other hand, asked if he thinks about a measure discussed Europe-wide according to which private employees are to be kept, but to be paid partially, for short -time work, the finance minister replied that there are several measures that will be discussed with the private sector and that such option exists, but no decisions are made.
  • Romania’s Government prepares EUR 750 mln “package for SMEs”: Romania’s Government is sketching a EUR 750 mln “direct aid” package for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), minister of economy Virgil Popescu announced on Monday, April 13. He added that European funds minister Marcel Bolos is discussing this in Brussels. Although not specified by minister Popescu, this “package” will be financed from the national budget. Romania could then recover the money from the European Union budget as part of a broader, Union-level agreement
  • Foreign direct investment down over 70pct in Romania, Jan.-Feb. 2020: Foreign direct investment in Romania decreased by 70.86% in the first two months of 2020 to 409 million euros, compared with 1.404 billion euros in the first two months of 2019, according to data with the National Bank of Romania (BNR) released on Tuesday.
  • Romania’s current account deficit widens by 84pct, Jan.-Feb. 2020: In January – February 2020, Romania’s balance-of-payments current account posted a deficit of 325 million euros, compared with 176 million euros in the same year-ago period, according to a press statement released on Tuesday by the National Bank of Romania (BNR).
  • Romania’s industrial production, down 2.6pct, Jan.-Feb. 2020: Romania’s industrial production was down 2.6%, both when adjusted for working days and seasonality and as gross series, in the first two months of 2020 from the same period of 2019 year, the National Institute of Statistics (INS) reported on Tuesday.
  • New orders in processing industry up 4.6 per cent in January-February: Overall new orders in the processing industry increased by 4.6 per cent in the first two months of this year against the same period of 2019, the National Institute of Statistics (INS) informs.
  • Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air lays off 19% of its employees, cuts pilots’ salaries due to COVID-19: Hungarian group Wizz Air, one of the biggest low-cost airlines in Europe and the market leader in Romania by number of passengers transported, will lay off 1,000 people, representing 19% of its workforce, to mitigate the financial impact of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Meanwhile, the biggest Romanian airlines, state-owned Tarom and privately-owned Blu Air, are facing major financial problems because of the COVID-19 pandemic and have asked the Romanian state for rescue loans of over EUR 60 mln each.
  • Continental reopens two of its four factories in Romania: German group Continental, the largest manufacturer of car components in Romania, has resumed activity at its factories in Timisoara, where it produces tires, transmission belts and air conditioning pipes made of aluminum.
  • Sales of new cars in Romania plunge by 24% in Q1: New car sales in Romania dropped by 23.8% in the first quarter this year (Q1) compared to the same period last year, according to data from the Association of Automobile Constructors and Importers (APIA).
  • One in ten RO bank debtors want to defer payments on bank loans: Some 10% of the 1.5 million retail bank debtors have applied for the moratorium on the debt repayment, which allows them to defer installment payments, Digi24.ro reported.
  • Romanian company invests EUR 20 mln in medical textile factory: Techtex, a member of the Taparo group, has launched two more automated technological lines for the production of surgical masks. The furniture manufacturer announced that it would invest EUR 20 million in the Techtex to transform it into the first medical textile factory with full Romanian capital.
  • 9 in 10 Romanians living in the city won’t visit their family on Easter, survey says: 90% of the Romanians living in urban areas intend to stay home on Easter this year amid the Coronavirus pandemic, says the Consumer Stress Score survey conducted by iSense Solutions during April 6-10. Almost half of the respondents (47%) consider that brands should send messages that are not related to the coronavirus epidemic, while 44% say that brands should adjust their communication strategy during this period. Only 6pc consider that brands should not communicate at all. 7 in 10 Romanian consumers would like that more and more brands should make home deliveries, while 63% would like special discounts during this period.
  • Deutsche Telekom actively seeks sole buyer for RO assets: German telecom group Deutsche Telekom is actively exploring the option of selling its operations in Romania to entities other than Orange Romania and Digi (the leading candidates so far), sources familiar with the talks told Ziarul Financiar. An agreement with a single entity would no longer require undergoing the complicated process of separating the IT and technical infrastructure of the former companies Cosmote and Romtelecom, which is necessary for a transaction with the two mentioned local operators. Deutsche Telekom would prefer this option, even if it probably needs a permit from the Supreme National Defense Council.
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