Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania

  • Romania exceeds threshold of 10,000 COVID-19 infections: By Thursday, April 23, 10,096 COVID-19 infections had been confirmed, with 386 new more cases reported in the past 24 hours. Out of the total, 2,478 people were cured and discharged from hospitals. There are currently 236 patients in intensive care.  To date, 113,336 tests have been processed at the national level.
  • Two military aircraft flying in medical equipment purchased from Turkey: Two C-27 J Spartan aircraft of the Romanian Air Force are flying in today 300,000 FFP2 and FFP3 face masks from Turkey, according to Romania’s Defence Ministry (MApN).
  • Pope Francis sends medical equipment to hospital in “Romania’s Lombardy” on his name day: Pope Francis has donated five pulmonary ventilators and protection equipment to the county hospital in Suceava, northern Romania. Suceava county has been the hardest-hit in Romania by the new coronavirus pandemic, which is why it has also been referred to as Romania’s Lombardy. Suceava county has recorded almost a quarter of all COVID-19 cases confirmed in Romania and the highest number of victims.
  • Ludovic Orban admits that in Romania testing is not carried out at maximum capacity: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban claims that Romania has a maximum processing capacity of 8000 tests for coronavirus per day. However, the prime minister admits that testing is not currently being carried out at full capacity, and according to official data, about 5,000 tests are being processed per day.

 

 

Political and regulatory

 

  • President Klaus Iohannis stated on Thursday in a new press statement at Cotroceni that unfortunately passing the 10,000 cases mark shows that the growth trend maintains and hygiene measures have to be strictly followed. “All this shows that national efforts have to be doubled by a common EU-level effort. In this respect I will participate today at a videoconference with the European Council,” Iohannis stated. “Substantial funding is needed at European level. I will support the creation of an economic recovery fund, as an additional tool to the measures taken previously. This instrument must be complementary to the future EU budget. I will strongly support classical policies, the cohesion policy and the agriculture do not lose their relevance in the current complicated context, on the contrary. Through the measures taken at European level, 1.5 billion euros from the current budget have already been mobilized for Romania. I  am convinced that the best way to limit the negative efforts of the pandemic is based on a common effort of all member states,” the President said in respect to some of the topics to be approached at the videoconference. Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis participates on Thursday in a video conference with members of the European Council on measures regarding the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, which will take place at 16:00hrs, EEST.
  • Orban assures that there are resources for the payment of pensions and salaries: ‘We will have economic growth’: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban announced that pensions and salaries will be paid, given the economic analyses that indicate an increase in the economy next year. “We certainly have as a priority the payment of pensions and we will ensure the financial resources for the payment of pensions and the payment of salaries, for the support of investments, for all these things we will ensure the financial resources”, Ludovic Orban said on Thursday, at the end of his visit at the “Cantacuzino” National Institute for Medical-Military R&D. The prime minister added that “all thinking” at the governmental level is towards an “economic recovery”. FM Florin Citu however said Wednesday evening, when asked pensions will be hiked in September, that this depends on the budget execution: “if it is not good, the investments, the payment of salaries and pensions will have a problem”. He rejected however the idea of tax hikes, but also tax cuts as being “a grave mistake”. His statements appear more moderate compared to the day before, when he said that “Romania will come out of this crisis better than expected”.
  • Prime Minister Ludovic Orban announced on Thursday, following the visit to the Cantacuzino Institute, that the production of influenza vaccine will be resumed, specifying that only one equipment still needs to be purchased. As for the laboratory where tests for COVID-19 are performed, the laboratory has a capacity of 500 tests per day, the prime minister announced.
  • No case for technical unemployment for public employees anymore, PM says: PM Ludovic Orban has announced on Thursday that the technical unemployment for public employees will not longer be enforced as Romania gets closer to the end of the state of emergency and measures to relax the lockdown will start on May 15.
  • IntMin Vela: We consider relaxation of program for people aged 65: The Minister of Interior, Marcel Vela, announced on Wednesday evening that he is considering a relaxation of the restrictions for the people over 65, and the time interval in which they can go shopping will be moved earlier in the morning.
  • EduMin Anisie: Schools reopening – prudent, controlled, gradual, in conditions of maximum safety for pupils and teachers: The Minister of Education, Monica Anisie, stated, on Wednesday, after meeting with President Klaus Iohannis, that the date of reopening schools will be established by the Committee for Emergency Situations, mentioning that schools must be reopened in a “prudent, controlled and gradual” manner, in conditions of maximum safety for pupils and teachers. She mentioned that the return of children to classes must be prudent, controlled and gradual. The date of reopening schools will be established by the National Committee for Emergency Situations.
  • Secretary of state Iulia Matei spoke about managing COVID-19 crisis at informal meeting of EU officials: Secretary of state for European Affairs Iulia Matei on Wednesday participated in the informal meeting of the ministers and secretaries of state for European Affairs of the EU Member States that was held as a videoconference, informed a press release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) sent to AGERPRES. The secretary of state showed that the current crisis revealed that there is a need for more coordinated action at EU level in the healthcare field. She pointed out that the Roadmap presented by the European Commission and the President of the European Council on April 15, 2020, provided a good basis for further discussions on this topic.
  • EnvinMin Alexe: Tomorrow, Romanian Parliament to vote on draft law banning exports of logs: A draft law banning exports of logs is to be submitted to Parliament for approval on Thursday, and I will support it, Minister of Environment Costel Alexe said in a videoconference with the European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fishery, Virginius Sinkevicius. According to a press release of the Ministry of Environment, Waters and Forests, Costel Alexe discussed on Wednesday with European Commissioner Sinkevicius about the Romanian authorities’ roadmap in closing the infringement procedure initiated by the European Commission regarding the illegal logging.
  • Minister of Agriculture: We have extreme drought in Dobrogea and Moldova. Three million hectares of crops compromised: Agriculture Minister Adrian Oros told Digi24 that three million hectares of crops sown in the fall are compromised to varying degrees. When we finish monitoring the agriculture, we have promised farmers that we would compensate for all the damage caused by drought. He stressed that there is no problem with basic food stocks. There are even surpluses for some products – milk, beef, eggs, poultry, vegetables – due to changes in the buying behavior. “Farmers have nowhere to value on these products, there is no demand. It is difficult to say what to do with them,” said the Minister of Agriculture. If at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic food stores were taken by storm, and manufacturers worked round-the-clock to meet the demand that artificially increased overnight, now players in this industry are facing problems with handling the overstock, the Minister said.  George Scarlat, Secretary of State with the Ministry of Agriculture also said Thursday in a Q&A session with HotNews.ro that Romania can ensure its domestic consumption.
  • Minister of Health, after the control visit: ‘I saw a changed attitude in Deva’: The Minister of Health, Nelu Tătaru, announced, after the control visit, that the situation at the Emergency Hospital in Deva “is changed”. After the visit from Hunedoara County, the minister will continue with Timiș and then with Arad.
  • Deputies Chamber – Health Committee: Physicians can organize temporary activities of a caravan type: The specialist physicians can organize temporary activities of a caravan type in such areas that are poorly covered in terms of medical services, Deputies from the Committee for health and family decided on Wednesday when they had a meeting.
  • Official Cucsa: We will ask SRI to provide a report regarding its involvement in combating coronavirus: The Committee for the exercise of parliamentary control over the activity of SRI (Romanian Intelligence Service) will ask the Service to present reports regarding its involvement in combating the coronavirus, the situation of the deforestation and the so-called cyber-attack on the IMM Invest system, the deputy head of this Committee, Marian Cucsa, stated on Wednesday.
  • Civic Association asks health min to dismiss manager of infectious disease institute over controversial statements: In an open letter issued on Wednesday, the Reset civic association is asking Health Minister Nelu Tataru to dismiss Adrian Streinu Cercel as director of the Bucharest-based Matei Bals Institute of Infectious Diseases.
  • ALDE criticizing President Iohannis for filling in for gov’t: The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) on Wednesday criticized President Klaus Iohannis for his latest statements. ALDE warns that face masks, which all Romanians must wear in enclosed public spaces after May 15, may not be found in pharmacies “at a reasonable price.” ALDE claims that “the biggest question is: when will a package of economic measures be unveiled.”
  • Barna announces he voted against IBRD loan to Gendarmerie: Leader of the Save Romania Union (USR) on Wednesday announced he was the only member of the Committee for foreign affairs of the Deputies Chamber who voted against the ratification agreement of a 40-million euros worth loan to be concluded by the Gendarmerie with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).
  • Romanian minister complains about lack of support against COVID-19 as private donation for local hospitals reach over 20 mln: Romania’s labor minister Violeta Alexandru complained in a Facebook post about the “feeble” support the Government has received from local communities and NGOs in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, companies and individuals in Romania have donated over EUR 20 mln in little over a month to help local hospitals.
  • Marcel Ciolacu, announcement about the elections: ‘They must take place when Romanians are safe: “At the moment we do not know what the relaxation measures are. I think that the lack of a clear perspective leads the population to a certain restraint. I have yet to see a clear economic plan from the Government. (…) I think that the elections must take place when the Romanians are safe. If PNL remains anchored in the electoral logic, that is a completely different story,” said PSD President Marcel Ciolacu on Wednesday evening on B1 TV.

 

Impact on the economy

  • 38 business and civil society organizations call for unrestricted access to the online works of parliamentary committees: In an open letter to all political parties and to the Parliament, 38 employers’ organizations, business and civil society representatives have requested unrestricted access to public online works of the Parliament’s specialty committees.
  • Number of labour agreements terminated since the beginning of the state of emergency still growing: The number of labour agreements terminated since the state of emergency was declared by the authorities (March 16) climbed up to 245,462 on Wednesday, according to the information provided by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection (MMPS).
  • Romania posts widest public deficit, lowest budget revenues in EU: Romania’s public deficit increased from 2.9% of GDP in 2018 to 4.3% of GDP in 2019 when the country posted the widest deficit-to-GDP ratio in the EU, according to Eurostat reporting under the harmonized European methodology. While Romania’s public debt is among the lowest in the European Union, wide budget deficits (this year’s deficit could reach around 8% of GDP) tend to close the gap.
  • RO bankers, insurers ask Govt. for masks, disinfectants and tax breaks: Invoking the “critical infrastructure” role played in the country during the state of emergency, representative organizations in the financial sector in Romanian have requested support from the Government, Economica.net reported. In brief, their demands include support for the procurement of sanitary materials and financial support in the form of tax and social security contribution breaks.
  • Nearly 60% of RO SMEs ready to return to full employment within three months: Nearly three in five small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Romania estimate that they will be able to employ all their entire pre-crisis personnel within three months after they resume operations, according to a survey conducted by the National Council of Small and Medium Private Enterprises in Romania (CNIPMMR).
  • One of IKEA’s biggest Romanian suppliers suspends operations due to COVID-19: Sortilemn, one of the leading local suppliers for the Swedish group IKEA, has suspended for one week the operations of its furniture factory located in Gherla, “following the recent developments related to the local coronavirus epidemic.” Another factory in the Sortilemn group, Becker Romania, has 11 employees diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Another factory in Romania reopens its doors: Michelin manufacturer is gradually resuming the production of tires at the factory in Zalău, after the same measure had been taken, starting with April 8, at the local tire wire factory. About 1,400 employees work in the tire factory in Zalău, and in the wire factory, about 700 employees.