Covid-19 Ro. 2,611 new cases of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 were registered in the last 24 hours in Romania, following more than 27,000 tests run nationwide, the Strategic Communication Group informed on Saturday afternoon. During the same period, 61 people diagnosed with Covid-19 died. The vaccination campaign continues, and Prime Minister Florin Cîţu took the second dose on Saturday. He announced that Romania is discussing with the European Commission the possibility of producing one of the anti-Covid vaccines at the Cantacuzino Institute in Bucharest. Also on Saturday, the first tranche of over 80 thousand doses of the vaccine produced by AstraZeneca, in collaboration with Oxford University arrived in Romania. This vaccine will be administered only to people between 18 and 55 years old. By the end of February, more than 600,000 doses of this vaccine will have reached the country. Meanwhile, the immunization campaign with the Pfizer-BioNTech serum continues and the administration of the Moderna vaccine started on Thursday. In total, so far, about 650 thousand Romanians have been vaccinated.
Fire. Two more patients who were in the fifth ward of the Matei Balş Institute in Bucharest during last week's fire died, the Ministry of Health announced on Saturday. These are two men, aged 73 and 91, respectively. Five people lost their lives on the day of the fire, and nine more deaths were reported later among patients transferred to other hospitals. The prosecutor's office attached to the Bucharest Tribunal announced that it finished, on Friday, the on-site investigation. So far, 33 people, medical staff, administrative staff, police officers who participated in the initial intervention and relatives of the victims have been heard. Several wards burned and the whole building was affected by smoke. More than 100 patients were evacuated and transferred to other health facilities. A similar tragedy took place in November, at the emergency hospital in Piatra Neamţ (northeast), as a result of which 10 patients died.
Navalny. The leader of the Renew Liberal group in the European Parliament, the former Romanian Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos, has said that the High Representative for Foreign Affairs of the Union, Josep Borrell, must come with explanations before the MEPs, after he was humiliated by the Russian Foreign Minister, Serghei Lavrov. "Today's events are a slap in Europe's face and should serve as a lesson that in negotiations with the Russians we can only impose ourselves if we are united in defending the values on which the European Union is founded: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law and human rights "- Ciolos wrote in a post on Facebook, after Moscow announced on Friday the expulsion of three diplomats from Germany, Poland and Sweden, because they participated in the protests for the release of Aleksei Navalny. The head of European diplomacy had admitted, since the beginning of the week, that he would not obtain the release of the most fierce opponent of President Vladimir Putin. At a meeting with Lavrov, Borell reiterated his call for the release of Navalny and the start of an impartial investigation into his poisoning with Noviciok in August 2020. Already sentenced to prison on Tuesday in a case of embezzlement that he says it was politically fabricated, Navalny appeared in court again on Friday on charges of defaming a World War II Soviet army veteran.
Training. Soldiers from the Romanian Naval Forces and Air Force carried out, on Friday, in the Black Sea basin, a joint training mission with US Navy soldiers. According to the Ministry of Defense in Bucharest, the exercise was the first joint Romanian-American training activity this year and aimed at strengthening the NATO assurance measures in the South-East of Europe, as well as increasing the level of interoperability, demonstrating, once again, the US involvement in ensuring security in the Black Sea area. The strategic partnership with the USA is one of the pillars of Romania's defense and security. In an increasingly dynamic security environment, such as the Black Sea, cooperation between the Romanian Army and American forces deployed in Europe contributes to strengthening the ability to react, quickly and efficiently, to a wide range of social security threats on the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Alliance, the Romanian Defense Ministry states.
Vandalism. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bucharest expressed its deep concern over the act of vandalism directed against the Representation of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, which took place on Friday. In a statement issued on Saturday to Agerpres, the MFA strongly condemns any violent behavior aimed at destroying, desecrating or damaging official or religious insignia, as well as the motivations behind them. The Ministry welcomes the solidarity reaction of the Israeli authorities, which promptly and unequivocally condemned the act of barbarism on the most important Romanian church establishment in the Holy Land, where many Romanian pilgrims come annually. At the same time, the MFA expresses its confidence that the Israeli authorities will take measures to identify and sanction the perpetrator and counts on their support to ensure the security and protection of all Romanian church establishments so that such incidents do not occur in the future. The Romanian Patriarchate thanked, on Saturday, in a message, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Israeli authorities for condemning the act of barbarism
Tennis. Romanian tennis player Simona Halep, world number two and second seed, will meet Australian Lizette Cabrera in the first round of the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year, which starts on Monday in Melbourne. According to the draw, the first round also includes the duel between the Romanian Patricia Ţig and Sorana Cîrstea. Another Romanian, Irina Begu, will play against the Serbian Nina Stojanovic in the inaugural round, and Ana Bogdan will take on the American Danielle Collins. Mihaela Buzărnescu, who joined the main board from the position of "lucky loser", will play in the first round against the Romanian-born Canadian Bianca Andreescu.
Handball. Romania's women's handball vice-champion, CSM Bucharest, on Saturday returned with a victory to the Champions League, after two matches in a row that were posponed due to cases of Covid-19 reported in their oponents' teams. The Bucharest team defeated, on home turf, the Danish team Esbjerg, 28-26. After 11 matches, CSM holds the 4th place in the Group A ranking, with 13 points. On Sunday, the Romanian champion, SCM Râmnicu Vâlcea, plays away in Group B, against another Danish team, Odense. Vâlcea is on the 6th place in the group, with only 4 points. Only the first two teams qualify directly in the quarterfinals, while the other will have a play-off. (MI)