VACCINATION More than 3,500 new coronavirus cases and 66 related deaths were recorded on Thursday in Romania. The total number of confirmed cases is now over 684,000, while the death toll is 17,035. 1,101 Covid patients are in intensive care. 90% of Romanians who caught the virus have recovered. Some 155,000 healthcare workers and those working in social care have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Romania. Phase two of the vaccination campaign gets under way on Friday, targeting the elderly, chronic patients and workers in key sectors, totalling some 5 million people. PM Florin Cîțu says the pace of vaccination will be stepped up, the target being the immunisation of more than 10 million people by September. 62% of Romanians say they want to be given the vaccine according to a poll conducted by Reveal Marketing Research between 6th and 11th January.
SALARY LAW The government is looking at bonuses in the public sector and if they are justified as part of drafting the state budget for this year, PM Florin Cîţu said on Thursday. He explained that he is considering amending the salary law to eliminate inequalities in the public sector. He said the pensions law would also be amended this year to take into account the contribution principle. The government on Wednesday increased the gross minimum wage by approx. 3%.
SCHOOLS Most schools in Romania will reopen on February 8, if the COVID-19 situation stays the same as in the past few weeks, president Klaus Iohannis said on Thursday. He had a meeting with the PM Florin Cîţu, the education minister Sorin Cîmpeanu, the health minister Vlad Voiculescu, the head of the Department for Emergency Situations, Raed Arafat, and the head of the National Centre for Infectious Disease Monitoring and Control, Adriana Pistol. Iohannis explained that when the infection rate in a locality goes above 6 per thousand, a lockdown will be introduced. He also said the situation will be re-assessed prior to opening schools, with a final decision to be made on February 2. As far as universities are concerned, each institution will be free to decide. With the exception of two months, schools have been closed in Romania since March last year, with teaching being conducted online.
PROTEST Healthcare trade unions in Solidaritatea Sanitara federation picketed the government building in Bucharest and prefecture offices around the country to demand more protection measures for healthcare workers amid the pandemic. They also demand a rise in the basic salary for all healthcare staff as of January 1 this year, to the level stipulated in the salary law for 2022. The federation also wants the government to give up on the reduction of the basic salary as a result of a government order issued at the end of 2020, and to grant all healthcare workers special bonuses and a risk incentive for the entire duration of the pandemic.
AIR FORCES Four Romanian F-16 aicraft with Air Base 86 in Borcea (south-eastern Romania), together with US Air Force aircraft deployed in Europe, took part on Thursday in the Prime Accord multinational military exercise. The exercise included escort and combat patrol missions. According to the Romanian defence ministry, the action was designed to reinforce NATO assurance measures in south-east Europe, and to check the integration of Romanian and NATO command and control structures. (tr. A.M. Popescu)