Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania

  • 468 new coronavirus infection cases; total at 9,710: A number of 468 new cases of persons infected with the novel coronavirus have been registered in Romania since the last update, taking the total number of infections to 9,710 persons, the Strategic Communication Group (GCS) reported on Wednesday. Of the persons infected, 2,406 were declared cured and discharged from hospital. A number of 288 patients are being treated in intensive care units. According to the quoted source, 508 persons diagnosed with COVID-19 have died. 106,357 tests had been carried out nation-wide by April 22.
  • HealthMin Tataru: Six deaths recorded of 1,033 medical staff infected with novel coronavirus: The Minister of Health, Nelu Tataru, stated on Tuesday that there are currently 1,033 medical staff infected with the novel coronavirus, six deaths being recorded from among them. The Minister maintained that the state of mind of the medical staff has changed for the better, after the hospitals were fitted with protection equipment.
  • Entire personnel of Hunedoara Municipal Hospital to be tested for COVID-19: The entire personnel of the “Dr. Alexandru Simionescu” Municipal Hospital in Hunedoara will be tested for the novel coronavirus with the help of the RealTime – PCR machine that allows the identification of COVID-19 cases in only a few hours, this equipment being already in operation.
  • 22 employees from medical products factory hospitalized with COVID-19: A number of 22 employees of a medical products factory in the Sibiu County have been admitted to the County Emergency Hospital after they were confirmed to have been infected with COVID-19. Moreover, thirty-two health care workers of Sibiu county hospital, railway hospital, ambulance, were found to have COVID-19, according to a press statement released by the Sibiu Prefecture on Tuesday.
  • Ten soldiers from 191st Infantry Battalion confirmed to have COVID-19: Ten soldiers from the 191st Infantry Battalion “Colonel Radu Golescu”, from Arad, have been confirmed to be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the officials of this military base informed in a press release on Tuesday.
  • MApN: Medical Modular System to be established in Timisoara to have 56-bed capacity, 4 ICU beds: The Medical Modular System to be established by the personnel of the Ministry of National Defence (MApN) in Timisoara will have a 56-bed capacity, 4 ICU beds, informs a press release of the MApN. The building and operating of the SMMIT Timisoara is carried out by the Medical Department, the General Staff of the Land Forces, the Joint Logistic Command, the Logistics Department and the Communications and Informatics Command. The MApN has so far erected two medical facilities in Otopeni, at the “Ana Aslan” Institute, and in Constanta.
  • PM Orban: A new modular hospital to be established in Bacau to treat COVID-19 patients: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban stated that the Government decided to establish a new modular hospital in Bacau to treat COVID-19 patients and added that the authorities have a solution to any situation that might appear.
  • Unprecedented agreement in the fight against COVID-19: The 6 world leaders in plasma products – Takeda, CLS Behring, Biotest, BPL, LFB and Octapharmahave joined hands in trying to develop a possible treatment against coronavirus, derived from human plasma. The 6 companies will soon begin testing the development of a drug based on anti-SARS-CoV-2 polyclonal hyperimmune immunoglobulin, without branding, which could have the potential to treat people with severe complications following contact with the COVID-19 virus. The development of this type of drug requires donations of large amounts of plasma from people who have fully recovered after contacting COVID-19 and whose blood contains antibodies that can fight the virus. “It is now more important than ever to realize the importance of the availability of plasma and national collection centers in order to continue to produce vital treatments for patients in Romania. There is no substitute for plasma, but I am confident that our experience will help us provide innovative solutions. Takeda has over 50 years of experience in research and innovation for plasma-derived treatments,” said Dominika Kovacs, country manager of Takeda Romania.

 

 

Political and regulatory

 

  • Klaus Iohannis: After May 15, we will give up movement restrictions, but we will wear a protective mask: President Klaus Iohannis convened a new emergency meeting, for the second day in a row, at the Cotroceni Palace. The talks took place in a restricted format, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Minister of Health and the head of the Emergency Department. At the end of the talks, the President stated that after May 15, movement restrictions will be lifted, but in closed public spaces and in public transport, all Romanians will have to wear a mask. “We will be able to go in public spaces without having to declare where and why we are going. It’s about the freedom of individual movement. Obviously, for the protection of the population, many restrictions will remain in force. All restrictions remain in force until May 15. Stay home! After May 15, we will be able to move more freely, but unfortunately life will not return the normality we knew before. We will have a relaxation plan in steps, we will determine which activity can start. An important activity is education in schools. I will have a meeting with the Minister of Education to develop a plan for the return of students to school. A plan is also necessary for restarting the economic activity. As the bans will be lifted, the responsibility falls greater on each and anyone of us” the President said.
  • Florin Cîțu: Romania will come out of this crisis better than we expected: The impact of the coronavirus crisis on the Romanian economy was lower than in other European countries, and Romania will get better out of this crisis than it was expected, as many companies have adapted their production, Minister of Finance, Florin Cîțu said on Digi24. He said that many SMEs have “reconverted” and have adapted to the current situation, starting to produce what is demanded on the market, and these SMEs pay taxes. In this context, Citu expressed his confidence in the Romanian economy, which he says it will be “stronger” after the crisis. Revenues to the state’s budget are “slightly” below last year’s level, he said. He added that Romania has gone through economic crises and learned to overcome them. Finance Minister Florin Cîțu further said on Tuesday evening at Digi 24 that the easiest and safest way is to relax the restrictions in Romania in reverse order to which they were taken and he believes that Romania will cope much better, from the economic point of view, with the second phase of the epidemic, which involves the restart of the economy. “We are much better prepared,” said Florin Cîțu, estimating that the difficult period was the first phase of the epidemic, when the crisis focused primarily on people’s health.
  • PM Orban: Gov’t prepares support measures for the large companies: The Government prepares support measures for the large companies, measures to guarantee working capital loans, as we did in the case of SMEs, PM Orban stated on Tuesday. “We are currently assessing the impact of the epidemic on the various economic sectors and also we are assessing the resources that we can use, both from the budget and from the EU, resources from the institutional investors or Romanian and international creditors. We are also analyzing the types of instruments that we can use to support an economic restart to be as fast as possible, in each field. There are some measures that we are already discussing and we also have some certainties, but we also need to wait for the decisions to be taken at the level of the European Union, in order to see what instruments they will use to be then applied in the member states and, clearly, we also have our own measures that we are discussing right now,” Ludovic Orban stated on TVR 1 public television.
  • Romania’s Govt. urges state energy companies to be more active amid slowdown: All energy companies under the authority of the Romanian Ministry of Economy and Energy will have to draft and approve, until June 15, an investment plan for the next five years, according to an order signed by minister Virgil Popescu.
  • ALDE’s Tariceanu: Senators and Deputies to return to work at Parliament headquarters next week, most probably: ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats) leader Calin Popescu-Tariceanu pleaded for a resumption of activity of both the institutions and those sectors of the economy where observing social distancing is possible, and announced that Senators and Deputies will return to work at the Parliament headquarters next week, most probably.
  • Pro Romania puts forth 10 measures to restart Romania: Pro Romania is proposing 10 measures to restart the country, including re-opening the economy on May 4, schools on May 11 or May 18 and sports, cultural activities, restaurants on June 1, and redefining vulnerable categories according to criteria other than age. Pro Romania also proposes granting loans from the IMM Invest program until May 15 to SMEs; adopting before May 4 a national program to support agriculture and the food industry, with exemption from rates and taxes for the entire 2020, loans on publicly subsidized interest rates, state aid for wage income completion. Parliament should also approve before May 15, at the proposal of the government, a national program for investment in large infrastructure with deadlines for the signing and starting of the works, Pro Romania mentions among its proposed measures.
  • Florin Cîţu: Credit card and overdraft do not benefit from deferred payment according to GEO 37. The ordinance could be amended: Overdraft, credit card, working capital credit lines for companies, factoring or no-cash facilities are not covered by GEO 37/2020 on the deferral of payments of up to nine months, according to the response sent by the Ministry of Finance to the Romanian Association of Banks (ARB). For these instruments to fall under the effect of the ordinance, it should be amended on the basis of a solution to be proposed by the ARB.

 

Impact on the economy

  • 2,000 employees of Bucharest Transport Company to be furloughed: Deputy Mayor of the Capital City Bucharest Aurelian Badulescu on Tuesday informed that 2,000 of the 11,000 employees of the Bucharest Transport Company (STB) will be furloughed, as a result of the number of passengers having significantly reduced in the last period, in the context of the restrictions generated by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  • Over 1,100 Tarom employees will enter technical unemployment: A number of 1,112 employees of Tarom national airline will enter technical unemployment for 90 days, starting April 27.
  • Romania employees start returning to work: The number of employees sent temporarily home by their employers amid lack of activity decreased by almost 130,000 from the peak registered on April 9, to about 902,000 on April 16, according to data from the Labor Ministry. Additionally, some 80,000 employees in the automotive industry returned to work on April 21.
  • French retailer Cora, food delivery operator foodpanda join forces in Romania: The Romanian subsidiary of French retailer Cora has partnered with one of the biggest food delivery operators in the country, foodpanda, to increase its capacity to reach potential customers. Meanwhile, competing delivery service Glovo launched operations in five more Romanian cities last week, reaching a network of 23 cities in the country.
  • Poll shows 80% of Romanian firms will still hike wages this year: About 60% of the 160 companies polled by Mercer Marsh Benefits in Romania have already increased wages based on targets agreed for this year, or are about to implement increases. Mercer Marsh Benefits conducted between the survey between April 1 and April 10.
  • Bucharest-listed winemaker Purcari says demand for wine is holding well: Bucharest-listed Purcari Wineries, one of the largest wine producers in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), announced its sales rose by 9% year-on-year in the first quarter (Q1). The increase came despite a nearly 50% plunge in exports to China in the same period, due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
  • Smartphone sales in Romania plunge by 50% in April: The sales of smartphones in Romania surged robustly by 20% in the first two months of the year, compared to the same period last year. However, they plunged suddenly by 50% in annual terms in the last days of March – during the first week of the lockdown period caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, when the shopping malls were closed.
  • Bank CEO: Lending in Romania, down to a quarter of the normal volume: The demand for loans has plunged below 25% of the average level for this time of the year, amid the state of emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, estimates Banca Transilvania CEO, Omer Tetik. However, he believes there’s nothing bad about this. On the one hand, people do not leave their houses, some of them have no financial power or are not willing to invest, while others are waiting, he explained.
  • Romanian entrepreneur raises EUR 1 mln to help hospital in COVID-19 stricken region: A fundraising campaign launched by Romanian entrepreneur Stefan Mandachi has managed to gather donations worth over EUR 1 million to help the county hospital in Suceava, the city with the most COVID-19 cases in the country. This is probably the biggest donation campaign carried out by an individual in Romania to date.
  • COVID-19 testing device donated to Mioveni Hospital by Groupe Renault Romania Foundation, car manufacturer Dacia: Starting this April, the Mioveni-based COVID-19 support hospital has a more than 500,000 lei ExiStation 48A automated molecular diagnostic system donated by the Groupe Renault Romania Foundation in partnership with Dacia, the car manufacturer said in a Wednesday release. Groupe Renault Romania has also made 150 Dacia and Renault cars available to hospitals throughout the country, via its dealership network.
  • Director of “Avram Iancu” Airport in Cluj-Napoca: charter flights taking Romanian workers to Germany continue: The director of the “Avram Iancu” International Airport in Cluj-Napoca, David Ciceo, announced on Wednesday, in a press conference, that the charter flights which take Romanian workers to Germany, started in March, will continue until May 17. He underscored that the charter flights to Germany provide revenues to the airport, although the amounts are small compared to those collected in April 2019.
  • Ministry of Economy launches call-center for canceled holidays: The General Directorate of Tourism within the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Business Environment (MEEMA) has opened a call center dedicated to those who want to know details about canceled holidays and the situation of reimbursement, according to an announcement posted on the Facebook page of the Ministry of Tourism – the current General Directorate of Tourism from MEEMA.
  • 9 out of 10 non-food retailers applied for technical unemployment – Colliers study: Nine out of ten non-food retailers (88%) applied for the technical unemployment measure, while over two thirds of them (67%) focus on alternative sales channels to offset losses from inactivity in classic stores, according to a study drawn by the Retail Division of Colliers International released Wednesday.