Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania
- Daily coronavirus cases remain at over 1,000 for the third day in a row: Romania added 1,119 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 42,394 on Friday, July 24, the authorities announced in the daily report released at 13:00. Separately from the new cases, 470 patients retested positive for the Covid-19 infection. Of the total cases, 25,349 patients have recovered, while 2,918 asymptomatic patients were discharged ten days after the diagnosis. In the past 24 hours, 24 Covid-19 patients passed away, pushing the death toll to 2,150. At a national level, 1,053,656 tests were performed by the same date, 22,532 of them in the last 24 hours. As of recently, the report also includes the statistics for on-demand tests (i.e. paid tests carried out in view of vacations abroad, or for other reasons). Thus, of the total number of tests processed in the last 24 hours, 12,839 were carried out based on case definition and medical protocol (by public health authorities) and 9,693 were carried out on demand (representing over 40% of the total, and similar to the day before). Overall, 5,864 people infected with COVID-19 are currently hospitalized across Romania. 301 patients are in intensive care, a growing number.
Political and regulatory
- Gov’t not considering relaxation or restrictions, but economy must work: On Friday, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban once again urged the public to follow the health protection rules, telling them to be responsible among the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “Protecting themselves, following health protection rules, those are simple things. (…) If we get sick, we take the disease home and we make our loved ones sick in the first place. (…) We must be responsible and guard ourselves against this sneaky virus. We don’t need to think about relaxation, but we don’t want any restrictions and, above all, we don’t want to harm the economy in any way. The economy has to work; every week we adopt all the pieces of legislation needed to put the economic recovery plan into practice,” Orban said at Novaci.
- Health minister: We might return to the state of emergency: Romanian Health minister Nelu Tătaru has launched a tough warning, saying that Romania might enforce the lockdown imposed in Italy or Spain few months ago. “If some of us are insistently asking for it, we might return to the state of emergency”, the minister underlined, referring to the fact that some people do not comply with the social distancing rules. The official considers that Romania is going through a different episode of the COVID-19 epidemic right now that nobody wanted and for this ‘we all have a part of blame’. Yet, minister Tătaru says that situation is under control and there are still chances that the curb of infections to flatten in two-three weeks and then to climb down.
- Romanian Govt. to support workers in companies temporarily closed because of COVID-19: Romania’s Government passed an emergency ordinance (OUG) to support the employees and employers forced to stop working due to coronavirus outbreaks within companies, the Labor Ministry announced. An increasing number of companies resorted to such measures recently, due to COVID-19 infections. Others have been trying to continue operations, despite recording such cases, to avoid economic losses. Under the new OUG, when the Public Health Directorate (DSP) orders the suspension of a company’s activity due to COVID-19 outbreaks, all employees, except those on medical leave, will benefit from technical unemployment benefits paid from the public unemployment insurance budget.
- Romanian citizens from vulnerable categories to receive 30 face masks for free every month: Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis promulgated on Thursday, July 23, the law according to which people from vulnerable categories will receive a set of 30 protective masks per month for free.
- Former Romanian anticorruption prosecutor placed under preventive custody: The Romanian High Court approved the request filed by prosecutors of the special investigative body SIIJ to put under preventive Police custody for 30 days former anticorruption prosecutor Mircea Negulescu, G4media.ro reported. Negulescu, who worked for the National Anticorruption Directorate’s Prahova regional office, is investigated for abuses in an investigation against former prime minister Victor Ponta.
- Ownership threshold for Romanian mass privatisation funds lifted: The 5% ownership threshold at the five Romanian financial investment funds (SIF), launched in the mid-90s as mass privatization funds, was lifted as of July 23. This could lead to new increases for the shares of these companies, which are significantly undervalued compared to their official assets. The views over the impact of eliminating the threshold diverge. Still, it is assumed that the share prices should increase as a new category of investors will gain access, and a new battle for their control could start.
- TransportMin Bode: Gov’t to continue investments on Transalpina within limits of law: Minister of Transport Lucian Bode said on Friday, in Novaci, that the Government will continue the investments on National Road 67C Transalpina within the limits of the law, for making traffic safe, taking into account the fact that a file on the road modernization contract is in court.
- PSD urges gov’t to do its best to reopen schools safely: The Social Democratic Party (PSD) is urging the National Liberal Party (PNL) government to do “everything possible” to start the school year safely, adding that online education is impossible in many areas and, even if it can take place, solid studies show how complex and serious the consequences are on children.
- PM Orban tours tourist compound at Olimp, rehabilitated on private funds of over 35 million euros: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban on Thursday evening toured the Amfiteatru-Belvedere-Panoramic hotel compound at the Black Sea coast Olimp resort that was rehabilitated and upgraded on a private investment worth over 35 million euros, which Orban called “extremely important” to Romanian tourism. The investor, the chairman of the Federation of Romanian Tourism Employers, businessman Mohammad Murad, underlined the importance of collaboration between the business community and the government.
- Foreign Minister Aurescu, Saudi counterpart Al-Jubeir hold phone call: Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu discussed today on the phone with the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, at the request of the Saudi side, the Foreign Ministry informs.
- Justice Minister Predoiu holds talks with EC Vice President Jourova, Commissioner for Justice Reynders: Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu held today bilateral talks via video conference with European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova, and with Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders; the European officials thanked on this occasion for Romania’s active involvement in supporting the upcoming Rule of Law mechanism.
- PM Orban: Public Health Directorates – the main guards against COVID-19, need additional manpower: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Thursday in the eastern city of Constanta that at this time, the Public Health Directorates (DSPs) are the “main guards” against the COVID-19 epidemic, which is why he considers supplementing the staff of these institutions as a priority. Orban said that personnel must be seconded to the directorates, given the fatigue build-up with the existing staff in the last five months. Ludovic Orban added that the Public Health Directorates need to beef up their activity, labeling them the “main guards” in the fight against the novel coronavirus. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Thursday in southeastern Constanta with reference to the tourist overcrowding at the seaside, that the authorities’ ability to persuade people to strictly observe the rules so as to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus is limited, education, awareness and care for oneself and for loved ones being up to each and every one.
- PM Orban: It is premature to talk about postponing local elections: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Thursday in (southeast) Constanta that it is premature to talk about a possible postponement of the date of the local elections, even if in the last 48 hours over a thousand cases of coronavirus have been confirmed daily nationwide. Ludovic Orban reiterated that the Government he leads does not want to impose new restrictions on the population and says that the number of those who “do not believe in the deniers’ gibberish” is increasing.
- Iohannis: For Romania it’s important to be part of NATO so it’s defended, but also to offer security: President Klaus Iohannis participated, on Thursday, at the ceremony to establish the HQ of the Multinational Corps – South East (MNC-SE) and in the final stage of the short-term notice exercise (ETSN) which took place at the Getica National Center for Combined Training (CNII) in the Brasov County locality of Cincu (center).
Impact on the economy
- Romania’s Govt. ponders helping private airline Blue Air by becoming its shareholder: Romania’s Government should opt to become a shareholder in the private airline Blue Air in exchange for the EUR 64 million emergency loan the company requested from the state, transport minister Lucian Bode said, according to Economica.net.
- Major Romanian courier company issues EUR 1.5 mln bonds: Nemo Express, one of the largest courier companies in Romania, concluded last week a private bond placement worth EUR 1.5 million.
- Romania’s Govt. guarantees bank loans for large companies: Romania’s Government amended the functioning law of state-owned lender Eximbank to allow it to manage the state guarantees program for loans extended to large companies, Digi24 reported. This program, included in the Government’s Investment and Economic Recovery Plan, is designed to facilitate working capital and investment loans for large companies, with a turnover bigger than RON 20 million (EUR 4 mln). The state will guarantee 80% of the value of loans granted under this program.
- Romanian unicorn UiPath plans to list its shares next year: UiPath, the first unicorn set up by Romanian entrepreneurs, is preparing to list its shares under an initial public offering (IPO) next year, announced the company’s co-founder Daniel Dines.
- Production value of agricultural branch decreases 3.8% in 2019: The production value of the agricultural branch decreased in 2019 by 3.8% compared to the previous year, to 89.997 billion lei, according to the data published on Friday by the National Institute of Statistics (INS).
- “New House” program to provide two categories of loans for new homes: The “New House” program will provide two categories of loans for new homes, respectively loans of up to 140,000 euros for which a down payment of 15% is charged and a state guarantee of 60% is granted, and 70,000 euros, with a down payment of 5% and a state guarantee of 50%, states the National Credit Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (FNGCIMM SA-IFN). According to the quoted source, the down payment of 15% and the guarantee of 60% apply only to new homes that exceed the threshold of 70,000 euros up to 140,000 euros included.
- Non-governmental credit balance increases by 0.4 pct in June 2020: The balance of non-governmental credit granted by credit institutions increased in June 2020 by 0.4 pct (0.3 pct in real terms) compared to the previous month, to the level of 270.118 billion RON, the National Bank of Romania (BNR) informs AGERPRES on Thursday, through a release.
- RON deposits of households increase by 0.4 pct in June: The deposits in RON of households increased in June 2020 by 0.4 pct over the previous month, up to 139.667 billion RON, and over the similar period of 2019 they recorded an increase of 12.3 pct (9.5 pct in real terms), the National Bank of Romania (BNR) informs through a release sent on Thursday to AGERPRES.