COVID19 Romania has 3 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection, with the patients’ current state reported as good. Another 52 people are quarantined across the country, and 8,796 under home monitoring. The healthcare authorities in the counties Timiş in the west and Maramureş in the north-west are running investigations to establish the people who were in contact with the 2 persons who tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday. Both of them had travelled to Italy recently. The first patient in Romania, a 25 year old man from Gorj County, in the south, is feeling well, and Friday’s tests came out negative, doctors say. If the next test is also negative, the patient will be discharged. In Europe, Italy remains the most affected country. As the epidemic spread, stock exchanges across the world reported total losses of over 5 trillion US dollars. The BBC says the US financial markets have not been hit so hard since the 2008 financial crisis. Investors fear that the growing number of coronavirus cases outside China may turn the disease into a pandemic.
ARREST The former healthcare minister in the Social Democratic government Sorina Pintea, currently the manager of the Baia Mare Emergency Hospital in the north-west of the country, was detained on Saturday by the National Anti-Corruption Directorate for continuing bribe taking. According to the DNA, between December 2019 and February 28, this year, Pintea received 10,000 euros and 25,000 euros from a business operator, in 2 instalments, accounting for 7% of the value of a public procurement contract concerning the design and building of a cardiovascular and thoracic surgery unit. The contract was signed in 2019 by the hospital with the company in question. Pintea allegedly received the money in exchange for completing some of her duties as a manager and authorising officer, anti-corruption prosecutors say. They requested the Bucharest Court to approve a 30-day pre-trial arrest order against Pintea. Sorina Pintea was a healthcare minister in Viorica Dancila’s left-wing government dismissed last October.
DISEASE Romania has too few doctors able to diagnose rare diseases, experts warn today, the International Rare Disease Day. They say investments in medical equipment in the field of genetics, which are vital for accurate diagnoses, are scarce. Physicians also warn that rare disease patients and their families face severe challenges in terms of access to care. So far more than 6,000 different rare diseases have been identified, most of which are without treatment across the world. In Romania, such diseases are underdiagnosed.
MIGRANTS Greece prevented 4,000 migrants to enter its territory “illegally” from Turkey, a spokesman for the Greek government announced on Saturday after an emergency meeting chaired by PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, AFP and Reuters report. On Friday, the country faced a mass, organised and illegal border crossing attempt, but it managed to overcome it, the government spokesperson explained. He added that Greece protected its borders and the borders of the EU. Also on Saturday, in an address in Istanbul, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will open its borders to enable migrants to leave, and criticised the EU for not helping Ankara enough. Turkey says it was forced to ease border controls for the refugees trying to reach the EU from Turkey, because of the pressure of the refugees coming from Syria amid clashes in the rebel stronghold of Idlib.
SLOVAKIA Slovakia is voting on Saturday for a new Parliament, hoping to fight corruption, frequently linked to the populist, left-of-centre ruling party Smer-SD. The vote may be crucial for the history of the country, which is still outraged by the murder of anti-corruption journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee in 2018, AFP reports. His killing, ordered by a businessman with political connections, mobilised the public, and polls suggest that the ruling party Smer-SD is running shoulder to shoulder with the centre-right opposition party OLaNO, which turned the fight against corruption into its rallying call. The double murder in 2018 triggered massive street protests against the government, and prime minister Robert Fico had to resign.
RUSSIA Hundreds of Russian opposition supporters gathered in Moscow on Saturday to protest the constitutional reforms initiated by president Vladimir Putin and to pay tribute to opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, murdered 5 years ago near Kremlin, AFP reports. In Sankt-Petersburg, nearly 2,000 people rallied in the centre of the city. The authorised march is the first important public gathering since Putin announced a Constitution review set to strengthen the role of the president and of the State Council. The killing of Boris Nemtsov in February 2015 had huge echoes in Russia and abroad. Nemtsov was in the middle of an investigation into the involvement of the Russian Army in the east Ukraine war.
HANDBALL Romania’s women’s handball champions, CSM Ramnicu Valcea, play today at home against the Swedish side Savehof, in the Champions’ League Main Group 2. In Main Group 1 in the same competition, vice-champions CSM Bucharest play away from home on Sunday against the French team Metz. The Romanian teams are ranking 4th in their respective groups and CSM is the only one having secured a place in the quarter-finals. In men’s handball, champions Dinamo Bucharest take on Sporting Lisbon, on Sunday night, after a 26-25 win away from home. If they go past the Portuguese team, Dinamo move into the Champions League round of 16.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)