Visit. The Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bogdan Aurescu, is paying a visit to Jordan today, at the invitation of his counterpart, Ayman Safadi. The talks will focus on boosting bilateral relations in areas such as agriculture, construction and the IT sector. The head of the Romanian diplomacy will underline the importance of continuing the close collaboration in the field of education, considering the existence of a significant community of Jordanian graduates of Romanian educational institutions, many of them holding leadership positions in the Jordanian public administration. During the meetings with Jordanian officials, Bogdan Aurescu will also address regional issues, focusing on the latest developments in the Middle East Peace Process, the prospects for resolving the crises in Syria, Libya and Yemen, as well as other regional issues relevant to the stabilization and the socio-economic development of the region. The Romanian Foreign Minister will pay special attention to the EU - Jordan relations and will emphasize Romania 's constructive role in this regard. The agenda of the visit also includes a meeting with the leadership of the Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
Covid-19RO. Over 4,150 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Romania today, out of some 21,500 tests performed. Most of them were registered in Bucharest. 97 Covid-19 related deaths have also been reported, and about 1,500 patients are currently hospitalized in Intensive Care. The total toll exceeds 974 thousand cases of infection and 24,000 deaths. The capital and 13 counties are in the red zone, with over 3 cases per thousand inhabitants in the last 14 days. The highest incidence is registered in Ilfov county, 9.08. In areas where the incidence is higher than four cases per thousand inhabitants, the movement of people on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays is allowed only until 20:00, not until 22:00, as during the rest of the week. Also, on these days, the shops close at 18:00. The measures become valid also during the week if the incidence rates exceeds 7.5 cases per thousand inhabitants.
Vaccination. The national vaccination campaign continues in Romania, with some 50 thousand doses administered daily. So far, more than 2 million people have been vaccinated, and half of them have received the second jab. Prime Minister Florin Cîţu has announced that Romania is in the process of selection at European level for the production of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, and one of the companies in our country will be evaluated by the European Commission's task force for the development of vaccines against COVID-19. The Minister of Defense, Nicolae Ciucă, has announced that, from April 5, 15 new anti-COVID-19 vaccination centers will be opened, for both military and civilians. In another development, the new list of countries with high epidemiological risk has been updated. According to the National Committee for Emergency Situations, the list includes countries such as Bulgaria, Italy, France, Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Turkey, the Republic of Moldova and Poland, but also Brazil and South Africa. All people arriving from these countries in Romania will be quarantined for two weeks.
Protest. New protests against the restrictions imposed to curb the pandemic took place on Saturday night in the center of Bucharest. The organizers also read a 10-point statement, calling for the repeal of some normative acts or measures taken by the authorities, and ending all restrictions and the state of alert. Among the most criticized measures, protesters mentioned the reduced shopping time, closing schools and wearing masks in open spaces. They say because stores have to close so much earlier than usual, people queue and crowd, which can increase the level of COVID-19 transmission. Authorities say, however, that these measures are needed to limit the rapid spread of the new coronavirus.
Easter. Roman Catholic and Protestant believers around the world, including Romania, celebrate, today, the most important Christian holiday, the Resurrection of the Lord, a month earlier than the Orthodox. Pope Francis, who led the Easter ceremony under the special conditions caused by COVID-19, said on Saturday that he hoped the hard times of the pandemic would end and people could soon rediscover "the joy of everyday life." This was the second consecutive Easter in which all papal services had about 200 participants in the second altar of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, instead of nearly 10,000 in the previous years. Italy is in lockdown, but has kept its churches open. Citizens can go to the churches nearby using a self-declaration. In Romania, too, traffic restrictions were lifted on the night of the Resurrection, so that believers could go to church. The Romanian president, Klaus Iohannis, wished the believers celebrating the Holy Easter these days 'blessed holidays, good understanding and prosperity', emphasizing that in these moments 'we need more than ever the faith and hope that the Light of the Resurrection brings."
NATO. NATO Day is celebrated in Romania every year, on the first Sunday of April. The North Atlantic Alliance, together with the EU and the Strategic Partnership with the United States, ensures the strongest protection that Romania has benefited in its entire history, against any threats to its national security, the Minister of National Defense, Nicolae Ciuca has said. He also mentioned that the Romanian forces were already in Afghanistan and Kosovo when Romania was invited to join the Alliance and, when our country became a member of NATO, the Romanian were also present also in Iraq, in another difficult mission. "For Romania, NATO has been and continues to be the main guarantor and the fundamental pillar of national defense and security", Prime Minister Florin Cîtu also stated. He also said that Romania has an active and significant contribution to Allied missions and operations, as well as a distinct and active role in shaping NATO policies and decisions, including measures to strengthen the deterrence and defense posture. In 2004, Romania became a member of NATO, the strongest politico-military alliance in the world.
Elections. Some 6.7 million Bulgarians are called to the polls today to elect the next 240 members of the National Assembly in Sofia amidst a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The voting process is accompanied by numerous sanitary rules. Voters in quarantine will be able to vote by mobile ballot boxes. The election is set to decide whether Prime Minister Boiko Borisov's GERB (right, pro-European) party will remain in power in the poorest country in the EU. Last summer, street protests took place in Bulgaria over allegations of corruption against the ruling coalition, which also includes VMRO nationalists. According to the polls, there will be no landslide victory in this election. It is anticipated that GERB, which has ruled since 2017 in a coalition with the nationalists, will emerge as the strongest political party, with 28-29% of the votes. It is likely that the opposition, which accuses GERB of corruption, will come out fragmented between several parties, but polls give the Socialists as the second political force after the elections, with 20-22% of the votes.
Weightlifting. Romanian athlete Monica Suneta Csengeri won, on Saturday, three gold medals in the 49 kg category, at the European Weightlifting Championships in Moscow. Csengeri (CSM Bistrita) won the snatch event with 86 kg, the clean and jerk with 103 kg, and in the total she won with 189 kg. Romania's record after the first day of competition is three gold medals, two silver and one bronze, after Cosmina Pană also won silver in the 45 kg category. Romania participates with 9 athletes, 7 women and 2 men, in the European Championships in Moscow, held between April 3-11. The goal of the Romanian Weightlifting Federation is for the team to come home with at least three medals. (MI)