CORONAVIRUS - A Romanian citizen on board the Diamond Princess cruiser, sailing in the Japanese territorial waters, tested positive for the new cornonavirus. He has been transferred to a Japanese hospital specialized in such cases. The Romanian diplomatic mission in Japan stays in contact with the Romanian citizen in hospital and also with the other Romanians on board the ship. In another development, on Thursday, the WHO said that the considerable growth in the number of infections with the new coronavirus was caused by a change in the registration method and it did not mean the situation got worse. China has reported more than 15,000 additional contaminations and 254 new deaths, the biggest increase since the first outbreak in December. Some 60,000 cases have been confirmed in China, of which 1360 deaths. The EU is ready for a potential aggravation of the situation, said the EU health ministers gathered in Brussels on Thursday. They drew attention to the fact that the member states must collaborate better and ensure a fast exchange of information.
FLU - The death toll from seasonal flu in Romania stands at 34 people, health authorities announced on Thursday. The latest three victims are two men and a woman with additional medical conditions who had not been vaccinated against the flu. A flu epidemic was officially declared in Romania last Thursday. Classes in schools have been suspended in some cases. Experts say the rising trend will be maintained in the next few weeks, given the low vaccination rate among the population.
NATO - In Brussels, where he is attending a NATO defense ministers' meeting, the Romanian defense minister Nicolae Ciuca on Thursday stressed the importance of a robust, effective and credible allied presence in Romania, given the complex and volatile security situation in the Black Sea area. He also highlighted the fact that Romania continues to keep by it commitment to allocate 2% of the GDP to defense. The money will allow investments in capabilities and equipment that are needed to face the challenges in the area. The agenda of the meeting includes talks about a string of additional recommendations in response to Russia's developing medium range missiles. Also, the participants have analyzed the progress in the peace process in Afghanistan and the future of Resolute Support Mission. Nicolae Ciuca has stated that Romania will maintain its contribution in Afghanistan, in keeping with the development of NATO's plans. Romania is currently the 5th most important contributor to Resolute Support. On Wednesday, the NATO defense ministers agreed to extend the training mission in Iraq, which will take over some of the activities carried out by the US led coalition against ISIS.
SECURITY CONFERENCE - Romania's interim PM Ludovic Orban is attending until Sunday the International Security Conference in Munich, currently at its 56th edition. PM Orban will have meetings with counterparts from several countries and top representatives of the business environment and will deliver a speech at the "European Dinner" event. The International Security Conference has brought together major security and defense leaders and decision-makers, as well as representatives of international and regional organizations, including the EU and NATO. The event is an opportunity for the European politicians to strengthen ties with counterparts from the US, Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East.
FORECAST - Romania reported an economic growth of 3.9% in 2019 as compared to 4.4% in 2018, according to the winter economic forecast made public on Thursday by the European Commission, which says that the economic slowdown will continue in 2020. The EC has revised downwards its November forecasts regarding Romania's economy to 3.8% for this year and 3.5% for 2021. According to estimates, only Malta will report a bigger economic growth than Romania in 2020 and 2021, of the EU27.
BREXIT - By the end of January, some 500,000 Romanians applied for the settled status in the UK, following Brexit. The Romanian Embassy in London has informed that some 3 million European citizens have registered in the EU Settlement Scheme provided by the UK for the European citizens who want to keep living and working in the UK after December 31st, 2020. In another move, the British Ambassador to Bucharest Andrew Noble has termed as exceptional the collaboration between the London authorities and the Romanian Police in solving cases of human trafficking.
WRD - On Thursday we celebrated World Radio Day. Proclaimed in 2011 by the Member States of UNESCO, and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 as an International Day, February 13 became World Radio Day (WRD). This year's theme is "Radio and Diversity" and is divided into three main sub-themes: advocating for pluralism in radio, including a mix of public, private and community broadcasters, encouraging representation in the newsroom, with teams comprised of diverse society groups and promoting a diversity of editorial content and programme types reflecting the variety of the audiences. Radio Romania International is marking the event alongside other partner radio broadcasters. Journalists from the foreign language teams of Radio Romania International, Radio Canada International, Radio Prague International, Radio Poland and Swissinfo have held pre-recorded debates on diversity. The debates, held in English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Chinese and Italian are being aired as part of the radio programmes of the above mentioned broadcasters. Also on World Radio Day, a meeting of RRI journalists with volunteers working on the Radio Shalom Romania programmes has been scheduled. Radio Shalom Romania is the online station of the Jewish community in Bucharest which Radio Romania International has supported with know-how and training.