Covid-19.Ro. The number of new cases of Covid-19 is dropping in Romania, but the number of related fatalities remains high, according to partial data made public by authorities on Thursday. 15,374 new cases of infection and 125 deaths were reported, of which 3 from the previous reporting timeframe. Some 1,120 patients are in intensive care. The vaccination pace has also kept slowing down, with some 7,700 people getting vaccinated in the last 24 hours, of whom a little over 1,200 with the first dose, the National Vaccination Committee has announced.
Summit. On Thursday, President Klaus Iohannis attended an informal European Council meeting in Brussels. He reiterated Romania's strong support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and for the country's right to decide freely on its European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations. "We need to continue the dialogue and look for a diplomatic solution", Iohannis also wrote on Twitter, adding that the threats to European security are still critical. The Romanian head of state is also attending the 6th European Union - African Union summit, focusing on launching an ambitious Africa-Europe investment package against the background of the current global challenges. President Iohannis has stated that Romania wants to strengthen its traditional ties with the African states and its role as donor of assistance for development, in particular in the field of education.
NATO. A NATO battlegroup is to be set up in Romania, most likely this spring, the defence minster Vasile Dincu has announced. He explained that there are still formal matters that need to be taken care of, but Romania has completed the preparations and is now waiting for the final decision. Dincu attended a meeting of the NATO defence ministers in Brussels in the context of the crisis created by Russia near Ukraine's borders. The NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg too mentioned in a press conference the intention to set up a permanent battlegroup in Romania "Our military commanders will now work on the details and report back within weeks", Stoltenberg said. In another move, three Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft owned by the German Air Force landed on Thursday at the 67th Airbase in Mihail Kogalniceanu, in south-eastern Romania. The planes brought 60 soldiers, pilots and technical personnel, who over the next three weeks will carry out, together with Romanian and Italian soldiers, missions of enhanced Air Policing under NATO command.
Inflation. The National Strategy and Forecast Commission revised Romania's economic growth forecast for this year down to 4.3%, from 4.6% as previously estimated, given the inflationary shock of the last quarter of last year and the 5th wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The institution also points out that it did not take into account the potential outbreak of a conflict caused by geopolitical tensions at the border with Ukraine. At the same time, the prospects for the 2022 agricultural year are not very bright, as the year starts with drought and very high prices for fertilizers and energy, the Romanian Corn Producers Association has stressed. Last year, Romanian economy registered a 5.6% growth.
Funding. Romania receives another 234 million euros from the European Commission for the Operational Programme Human Capital. The new funds will help 168,000 disadvantaged pupils to make up for lost class time during the pandemic. In addition, the new funds will support the employment of people who lost their jobs during the pandemic, as well as 295 new welfare enterprises assisting people in vulnerable groups. The additional funding will also ensure the provision of bonuses for 97,000 health workers who dealt directly with the pandemic.
Tennis. The Romanian tennis player Simona Halep has qualified for the semifinals of the WTA 500 tournament in Dubai, with some 800 thousand dollars in prize money. She defeated on Thursday the Tunisian Ons Jabeur in two sets: 6-4, 6-3. Simona has won this tournament two times before, in 2015 and 2020. (MI)