COVID-19 Three counties in Romania, Bucharest, Ilfov (south-east) and Cluj (centre-west) are still in the red zone, with little over 4 COVID infections per thousand inhabitants. The other counties have reported infections rates below 3 per thousand. On Thursday the authorities announced nearly 3,000 new infections and 150 COVID-related deaths in 24 hours, while 1,405 patients are in intensive care. At the end of the first meeting of an inter-ministry committee working for Romania’s returning to normal as of June 1 this year, PM Florin Cîțu said reaching this goal depends on vaccination. "It is a prerequisite, this will not happen without vaccination. It is the only solution," the PM said. Vaccination remains the only way to stop the spread of coronavirus, Romanian president Klaus Iohannis said in his turn, urging all who haven't got the vaccine yet to get immunised because only this way we can have a summer without so many restrictions. The total number of people who got at least one vaccine dose is over than 2.8 million people. According to the authorities, Romania has now the capacity to immunize 120,000 people a day.
HEALTH Romania's new Health Minister, Ioana Mihaila, begins her term in office with three key priorities, which she says are going to guide her work, alongside the strategy to curb the pandemic. The new minister's priorities are, attracting funds for reforms and investment, increasing people's access to basic medical services as well as raising the competitiveness of the managing boards of hospitals and county health insurance agencies. According to Minister Mihaila, over 2.6 billion Euros worth of EU funds are to be invested in streamlining the country's healthcare system and in the next government meeting a draft emergency order will be discussed, regulating the involvement of family physicians in the vaccine rollout. Nominated by the USR-PLUS Alliance, Ioana Mihaila has replaced Vlad Voiculescu, recently sacked by the Liberal Prime Minister Florin Citu.
MEETING Bucharest is hosting for two days the Trilateral Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Romania, Poland and Turkey. The event was preceded by an online conference on current security challenges. Taking the floor during the event, Romanian Foreign Minister, Bogdan Aurescu has highlighted the value of the trilateral meeting in handling these crises, mainly in consolidating the NATO deterrence and defence posture in the eastern flank. The Romanian official also touched on the complex regional background fraught with concerning developments, affecting the area from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea and which is mainly visible at Ukraine's western border and in the illegally occupied Crimea. The situation in the Black Sea region is high on the agenda of the Romania-Poland-Turkey trilateral meeting.
UKRAINE The president of Romania Klaus Iohannis announced the Supreme Defence Council would convene on 27 April to discuss the situation at the Black Sea. The head of state said tensions emerged in that area, especially in Ukraine’s eastern border region, and described the situation as “worrying.” “I have had several discussions with the defence minister and the heads of other specialised services, we are well aware of the situation there and the tensions emerging in the region are a concern for us,” Klaus Iohannis added. On Thursday, Russia announced pulling out the troops it had deployed near the Ukraine-Crimea border, stating the military exercises conducted in the area were completed. “The troops have demonstrated their ability to ensure a reliable defence of the country. So I decided to complete the inspection activities in the southern and western military districts," said Russia's defence minister Sergei Shoigu in a press release.
NATO NATO leaders will convene in a summit in Brussels on June 14, the Alliance’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg announced on Thursday. “Russia’s aggressive actions, the threat of terrorism, cyber-attacks, emerging and disruptive technologies, the security impact of climate change, and the rise of China” will be on the agenda of the meeting. According to Stoltenberg, “This is a unique opportunity to reinforce NATO as the enduring embodiment of the bond between Europe and North America.” Also, he added, decisions will be made on the organisation’s 2030 agenda to deal with the challenges of today and tomorrow.
Romanian tennis player Simona Halep, no. 3 in the world, Thursday defeated Marketa
Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, 6-1, 6-3 in the round of 16 of the tennis
tournament in Stuttgart. Halep, a former Roland Garros champion, has won all
the major clay tournaments in Europe, except for the one in Stuttgart, where
she only made it to the semifinals in 2017. In 2020, the Romanian clinched two
titles in Prague and Rome. Also in Stuttgart, the pair made up of Raluca Olaru
of Romania and Nadia Kicenok of Germany has qualified for the doubles quarter
finals after a 7-6, 6-4 win against Hayley Carter of the USA and Luisa Stefani
of Brazil.(tr. A.M. Popescu)