COVID-19 IN ROMANIA - The anti-COVID-19
vaccination campaign continues in Romania. According to the National Committee
for Coordinating Vaccination Activities, some 820 thousand people have been
immunized, the total number of dozes administered so far exceeding 1.4 million.
Most people have received the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine. Other vaccines being
administered in Romania right now are those developed by Moderna and
AstraZeneca. A new batch of 200,000 Pfizer shots reached Romania on Monday. On
Tuesday, the Group for Strategic Communication announced another 3,382 COVID
infections reported in the last 24 hours and 119 related fatalities. The total
number of infections has exceeded 784 thousand since the start of the pandemic.
Over 20,000 people have died to the virus in Romania.
COVID-19 IN THE WORLD - The total number
of COVID-related deaths has exceed 500 thousand in the United States. President
Joe Biden ordered flags be flown at half-mast on federal buildings for five
days as a tribute paid to all the people who've died since the start of the
pandemic a year ago. According to the latest worldometers.info update, over 112
million infections have been confirmed so far in the world, and 2.5 million
people have died. Over 87 million people have recovered. Meanwhile, European
states are stepping up efforts to prevent the new COVID strains from spreading.
Germany currently fears a third wave of the pandemic amidst plans to ease some
of the restrictions recently introduced. Italy has announced an extension of
restrictions on travel between regions until March 27 due to an increase in the
infection rate. In turn, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a
timetable for lifting the hard lockdown in this country in an effort to restart
the British economy.
VIDEOCONFERENCE - Romania's
President, Klaus Iohannis, is today attending a videoconference with European
Council President, Charles Michel, and other EU leaders, ahead of the European
Council meeting of February 25-26. In two days, European Council members will
meet online to discuss the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a common
response to health, security and defense threats. EU leaders will review
epidemiological developments. As regards security and defense, they will hold a
strategic debate on European policies in these fields. High on the agenda are
also actions to boost EU resilience, especially against cyber-attacks and
hybrid threats. Participants will also approach EU relations with states in the
southern vicinity. In December, 2020, EU leaders underlined that a democratic,
more stable, greener and more prosperous southern vicinity is a strategic
priority for the EU.
BUDGET - The draft state
and social security budgets for 2021 are due to arrive later today in
Parliament, after the Government operated several last-minute changes on Monday.
The timetable for debating and voting the laws will be accelerated, as the
ruling coalition want the budgets to be adopted by early next week at the
latest. Coalition leaders agreed not to table any amendments. The
Social-Democratic Party in opposition, on the other hand, has accused the
Government of proposing an austerity budget amidst an economic crisis generated
by the pandemic and said it is preparing thousands of amendments.
PROTESTS - Representatives of
the Sanitas Federation of trade unions are today staging a protest before the
Parliament in Bucharest, calling on Romanian MPs to modify the 2021 budget law
so that both the beneficiaries of healthcare services, as well as health
workers should have access to "quality healthcare services of European
standards". The Sanitas Federation announced it would continue its series of protest
actions until its demands are met. Also today other protests are organized in
Bucharest by representatives of the National Federation of Trade Unions in Law
Enforcement, who are in turn criticizing the Government's salary policies.
SANCTIONS - The Russian
Foreign Ministry believes the new sanctions the EU is considering to introduce
against Russia are illegal and a source of disappointment. EU Foreign Ministers
on Monday agreed to introduce sanctions against four high-ranking Russian
officials close to president Vladimir Putin. The measure is tied to the arrest
and investigation of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and follows Brussels'
repeated pleas for the observance of human rights in Russia.
FOOTBALL - Atletico Madrid is
taking on Chelsea London tonight on National Arena stadium in Bucharest in the
first leg of the Champions League round of 16. The match will be played in
front of empty stands. With over 54,000 seating capacity, the stadium will be
hosting matches counting towards EURO 2020, due to kick off in four months.
National Arena will also be hosting matches in the U21 European Championship in
2023. The stadium hosted the Europa League final in 2012, which Atletico Madrid
won against Athletic Bilbao. (V.P.)