Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania

  • Romania reports over 8,000 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours: 8,262 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Romania in the past 24 hours, out of 31,082 tests, which means that a quarter of the tests done in the past day came back positive for SARS-CoV-2. 186 Romanians infected with the novel coronavirus have died in the past 24 hours, while 1,174 infected patients are in intensive care. Most new cases in the last 24 hours were registered in Bucharest (1,003), Cluj (606), Constanta (422), Iasi (335), Timis (332), Prahova (310) and Ilfov (301). The counties with the highest incidence rate per 1,000 inhabitants are: Sibiu (9), Cluj (7.42), Ilfov (6.9), Timis (6.85) and Brasov (6.24). Bucharest has an incidence rate of 5.54.

Political and regulatory

 

  • President Iohannis, meeting with Government members and specialists on management of COVID-19 pandemic: On Tuesday, President Klaus Iohannis will have a new meeting with members of the Government and specialists for the assessment and presentation of the measures regarding the management of the COVID-19 epidemic, according to AGERPRES. According to the Presidential Administration, the meeting will taks place at 13:00 hrs, at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace.
  • PM Orban: High fines in force during state of emergency had visible effects: Just a small part of the population does not follow the pandemic-specific rules, Prime Minister Orban said on Monday evening at the end of a working visit to Bucharest hospitals, adding that the higher fines in force during the state of emergency produced visible effects, according to AGERPRES. “There are certain social groups – no doubt, just a minority – that do not comply with the rules. That’s it! We are trying to use all the legal instruments, to mobilize all the law enforcement we have to ensure compliance with the protection rules and to sanction violations wherever they occur. On the other hand – that’s a fact, a minority of the Romanian population does not respect the rules,” the Prime Minister said. The Premier also presented the government’s steps to increase the quality of medical services, mentioning settlements worth a total of 1.2 billion euros from European funds, but also projects for new hospitals. The PM also said that the measure to quarantine localities where the increase of the number of COVID-19 cases is large is giving results, mentioning that there are approximately 50 localities in quarantine, yet in Bucharest there is no need to impose this measure to stop growth.
  • Orban: Government is making constant efforts to cope with possible third wave: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Monday that the government is making constant efforts to get ready for a possible third wave of the pandemic, noting that although any restriction measure generates a lot of opposition in society, he has assumed the introduction of such restrictions precisely because they are absolutely necessary, according to AGERPRES. He said that together with the Ministry of Health management team, he made a plan to increase the treatment capacity, by introducing new hospitals in the anti-COVID scheme and specified that the Executive has assumed the introduction of restrictions, although they generate opposition in society. “You can see that any restriction measure generates a lot of opposition in society. We have assumed the introduction of restrictions, being in the election campaign, precisely because we considered it absolutely necessary to introduce these restrictions to stop the number of cases,” the premier stated after a working visit, together with Bucharest General Mayor, Nicusor Dan, and with the Bucharest prefect, Traian Berbeceanu, for the assessment of the hospitals in the Capital of Romania. Health experts estimate the third wave to occur in February.
  • HealthMin Tataru: 80 pct of hospital managers should be replaced: As many as 80 pct of the hospital managers in Romania should be replaced, and the medical units’ coordination should go back to the Health Ministry responsibility, minister Nelu Tataru said on Monday evening on Digi24 private TV broadcaster. “At one point, during this pandemic, I said that 80 pct of [hospital, ed. n.] managers should be replaced. I maintain the same opinion,” Nelu Tataru said. He added that the current situation of the health care system has been generated by governments, health ministers, political and local actors over the past 30 years. “This is why the reform of the healthcare system means a radical change, both legislative and at the level of the hospital’s administration. The Health Ministry should coordinate these hospitals,” he said. Most public hospitals are currently under the administration of the local authorities. Prime minister Ludovic Orban recently announced an analysis would be carried out on the topic of placing the hospitals under the coordination of the Health Ministry. He said the decision to put the hospitals under the local authorities’ coordination was not a wrong one. Still, the issue was the poor performance of the managers in several counties, News.ro reported. In another interview at Realitatea Plus, Tătaru said one of the reasons preventing Romanian doctors practicing abroad from returning to the country was that hospitals did not ensure the safety of the medical act. He went on to explain that if the doctors would be paid unsatisfactorily and will not have the right conditions to practice, they will not return to the country. Tătaru also said he contacted the embassies of EU countries and the communities of Romanian doctors working abroad to ask for help in the coronavirus crisis.
  • Piatra Neamt fire/PM Orban: Manager’s resignation is not enough, investigation must identifies those responsible: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Monday that the resignation of the manager of the Piatra-Neamt County Emergency Hospital, Lucian Micu, is not enough, pointing out that the investigation into the fire at the ICU unit of this hospital must identify those responsible. He pointed out that all the measures that are being taken are aimed at preventing a similar situation from ever happening again. Meanwhile, PSD (Social Democratic Party) leader Marcel Ciolacu on Monday called on Prime Minister Ludovic Orban and Health Minister Nelu Tataru to resign, saying the tragedy at the Piatra Neamt Hospital represents the expression of the “national failure” of the Government to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Nelu Tătaru on the mandatory vaccination against COVID-19: The Minister of Health, Nelu Tătaru, stated on Monday evening, on a TV show on Realitatea PLUS, that a possible anti-COVID vaccine will not be mandatory, but people should understand that it is the best way to protect themselves and those around them. Meanwhile, according to some sources memos are circulating in the government at all ministries for drawing lists of those who want to sign up to get vaccinated, which may spark controversies since such an endeavor is yet to circulate in hospitals, where doctors would take priority according to the official statements. The first reaction came from PSD.
    • Comment: While a vaccine is not yet in sight this year, the elections are three weeks away, and the subject of the vaccine is just as important, as the fire at the Hospital in Piatra Neamt and the quarantine of localities.  The PM himself admitted the electoral impact of imposing restrictions, hinting that he sacrificed PNL’s political interests to fight the pandemic.
  • USR PLUS requests military leadership at DSP and Sibiu County Hospital: The Save Romania Union – Liberty, Unity, Solidarity Party (USR PLUS) Alliance called on the County Committee for Emergency Situations and the Ministry of Health to appoint a military leadership to the Public Health Directorate (DSP) and to the Emergency County Clinical Hospital in Sibiu, a press release sent to AGERPRES informs. USR PLUS requests that, after the military leadership, only competent people be placed at the head of the two institutions, without political interference. Meanwhile the Sibiu County Emergency Hospital announced having received a leased oxygenation station and that it’s ICU capacity for patients in serious conditions will increase by 22 beds.
  • Timisoara’s Covid infection rate spikes at 8.02 per 1,000 population: Timisoara city’s 14-day Covid infection rate spiked today at 8.23 per 1,000 population, after Monday’s slight decrease to 8.02 per 1,000 population, the Timis Prefecture announced, according to AGERPRES. Meanwhile,  the Bistrița-Năsăud County Committee for Emergency Situations (CJSU) decided, on Monday, to start the steps for establishing the quarantine in the city of Bistrița, where the incidence rate of Covid cases exceeded 9 per thousand inhabitants.
  • Ludovic Orban, discussion with Traian Berbeceanu and Nicușor Dan: We will  supplement ICU beds in Bucharest: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban had a meeting with the Bucharest General Mayor Nicușor Dan and the prefect of the Capital, Traian Berbeceanu, at the end of which he promised that the Executive will get involved to increase the number of beds at ICU in Bucharest. “We discussed this urgency in the evaluation visits that we paid yesterday, together with the mayor Nicușor Dan, at the Colentina Clinical Hospital, the St. John Clinical Emergency Hospital, the Malaxa Clinical Hospital and the St. Stephen Pneumophtisiology Hospital.
  • District 1 Mayor, Clotilde Armand makes first layoffs from the former administration: Bucharest District 1 Mayor elect Clotilde Armand announces the layoff of the Director of the Public Domain Administration, the director of the Local Police and the director of the Investment Department, all “legacy departments that created a damage of RON 700 million”, the mayor alleged.
  • Parliament: The employer can reduce the working time of employees by up to 50% during the state of alert period: the Chamber of Deputies adopted, on Tuesday, the ordinance that provides the possibility for the employer to reduce the working time of employees by a maximum of 50% in the context of the epidemiological situation caused by the spread of the new coronavirus. However, the deputies amended the ordinance. Thus, the employer can reduce the working period after a consultation with the union or the employees representative. The flexible work schedule (Kurzarbeit) will be able to be applied by employers even after the end of the state of alert, for a period of up to 3 months after its termination, with the receipt of the related subsidy from the Government. At the same time, the authorities will have to reimburse to the employers the amounts from the budget within maximum 5 days from the accomplishment of the steps in this respect. The project goes next to President Klaus Iohannis for promulgation.

Impact on the economy

  • Google Pay becomes available in Romania through partner institutions: Google officially launched its Google Pay mobile payment service in Romania on Tuesday, November 17. Google Pay is a free digital wallet compatible with Android devices equipped with NFC, enabling simple, secure, and fast payments in physical stores and online. The service is not available directly but can be accessed through partner financial institutions’ “wallet” applications. For now, the Google Pay service is available in the mobile applications of ING Bank, UniCredit Bank, Banca Transilvania, Alpha Bank, and CEC Bank, and through Revolut, Transferwise, Curve, Viva Wallet, and Orange Money.
  • Romanian tech unicorn UiPath reportedly advances with preparations for 2021 IPO: UiPath, the most valuable company ever launched in Romania, has reportedly started working with four investment banks on preparing the initial public offering (IPO) that could take place in the first half of 2021. The four banks are JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, and Credit Suisse, according to sources quoted by Bloomberg. The IPO could bring UiPath’s valuation at over USD 20 billion, double compared to the most recent valuation announced by the company in July this year, after a USD 225 million funding round. At that time, the company reached USD 10.2 billion, up from USD 7 billion in a previous financing round in 2019.
  • Transactions on Bucharest Stock Exchange in first ten months, higher than in whole 2019: The value of share trading on the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB) reached RON 10.3 bln (EUR 2.12 bln) in the first ten months of this year, up 6.4% compared to the level for the whole of 2019 (RON 9.68 bln), the operator announced in a press release. However, the evolution of the main market index – BET was negative in October, after a solid recovery from March until September following the plunge in February-March caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, in the first ten months of this year, the BET lost close to 15% of its value. Still, since the end of November, the BET has gained 4.7%.
  • Focus Sat launches online television service in Romania: Focus Sat, one of the biggest providers of digital satellite television services in Romania, has launched Play TV, a new television service aligned with the trends on the smart television market in Romania.
  • Hidroelectrica’s 9M EBITDA shrinks on lower electricity prices and demand: The earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of Hidroelectrica, the largest electricity producer in Romania, shrunk by 19.5% in the first nine months of the year, compared to the same period of 2019, according to the quarterly financial report of local investment fund Fondul Proprietatea (FP). The drop in EBITDA resulted from lower deliveries and lower prices – both reflecting subdued demand.
  • Drug sales decline in Romania amid COVID-19 pandemic: Despite the 9.3% rise in the volume of OTC drugs purchased by Romanians from pharmacies in the 12 months ended September 2020 compared to the previous 12-month period, the overall consumption of medicines decreased by 2.1% in volume terms and by 4% in value terms over the period. Romanians purchased 614 million boxes of medicines between October 2019 and September 2020, down 2.1% compared to the same period last year. The value of drug sales thus decreased by 4%, to RON 17.4 billion (EUR 3.66 bln), at distribution price, according to the Pharma & Hospital Report study conducted by market research company Cegedim.
  • MedLife’s shares rally on Q3 earnings and profit capitalization: MedLife Group (BVB ticker: M), the leader of the private medical services market in Romania, announced on November 13 above-expectations earnings in the third quarter. On the same day, MedLife summoned its shareholders to approve the capitalization of retained earnings and distribution of free shares. The combined effect was a 19% rally of the company’s shares on the Bucharest Stock Exchange in the November 16 trading session.
  • Study: Romania’s e-commerce market up 40% to EUR 6 bln in 2020: Romania’s e-commerce market will reach about EUR 6 billion in 2020, at least 40% more compared to 2019, according to estimates revealed in a study conducted by iSense Solutions for the GPeC summit – the annual event dedicated to the local e-commerce industry, quoted by Ziarul Financiar. In the pandemic context, the number of Romanians shopping online increased by 13% this year compared to 2019, and the average value spent on online shopping went up by 41% compared to 2019.
  • More than a third of Romanians would keep their savings in a hidden envelope in the closet!: Reveal Marketing Research conducted a study on Romanians’ attitudes towards savings and investments to find out what are the main tools of managing their financial resources. Given the COVID-19 context challenging the economic situation at all levels and industries, people need to reassess their money expenditures now more than ever. Here are the results of the study: Half of Romanians claim that if they managed to save 350 lei once every 3 months, they would deposit the money in a bank account. 32% of respondents said they would prefer to keep their savings in an envelope in the closet. Only 8% of respondents mentioned they would choose to invest in a life insurance. Only 4% of Romanians would invest in the stock market through a broker.
  • Impact Developer & Contractor’s nine-month sales revenues up 35 pct YoY: Real estate developer Impact Developer & Contractor closed the first 9 months of the year with revenues of 135.349 million lei from home sales, up 35 percent from the same period of 2019, the company said in a statement issued on Tuesday, according to AGERPRES.
  • Burduja, Ministry of Finance: Romania will not have an easy situation from a fiscal-budgetary standpoint next year either: Romania will not have an easy situation from a fiscal-budgetary standpoint next year either, but the Government does not intend to increase taxes or imposes new ones, the solution being to increase the collection rate, said on Tuesday, Sebastian Burduja, Secretary of State with the Ministry of Finance.
  • The additional tax on Black Sea natural gas will be relaxed in the new offshore law: The additional tax on natural gas production, the “windfall tax”, will be maintained in the offshore law, but the price threshold from which it will apply will be increased, said Niculae Havrileț, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Economy and Energy, at the online conference “Oil in the new economy”, organized by EM360 and Sustainable Romania. It is a substantial change, the architecture of this tax being one of the obstacles that were put in the way of companies’ taking a final investment decision for the exploration/exploitation of the Black Sea natural gas deposits.