COVID-19 Ro - The Romanian government is meeting today to analyze a bill which includes the disabled and homeless people in the second stage of the ongoing national vaccination campaign. The draft law proposes, among other things, the extension of the population groups for vaccination against COVID-19 by including new priority categories that are part of the critical infrastructure or of the staff undertaking missions outside the national territory. The second stage of the national vaccination campaign against Covid-19 is under way in Romania, targeting people over 65, people with chronic diseases and employees in key domains. About 6 million Romanians have the right to be vaccinated in this stage. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 700,000 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed across the country and 635,000 patients have recovered. The total death toll has reached 17,485. About 1,000 patients are in ICUs.
Protests – The protests organized by Cartel Alfa - one of the main trade unions in Romania - continue, today, with the picketing of the Finance Ministry in Bucharest. On Tuesday, the trade unionists expressed their discontent at the headquarters of the ruling coalition parties, where their representatives met with the Liberal leader Ludovic Orban the leader of the USR-PLUS Alliance, Dan Barna. Their main demands are: a decent minimum wage, fair pensions, quality public services, unblocking collective bargaining, correct taxation and the correct application of legislation. According to Deputy Prime Minister Dan Barna, part of the demands could be resolved in the coming period, others must be considered in the context of an economy in crisis, which was generated by the Covid-19 pandemic and of a budget that should fall into the deficit of 7% of GDP.
Washington - Washington has been closed down, today, ahead of the Democrat Joe Biden’s inauguration as the 46th President of the United States. 25,000 troops will be on the deserted streets this time, in a city marked by the new coronavirus pandemic and by the violent events that took place two weeks ago, when the Capitol was stormed by radical supporters of the incumbent Republican President Donald Trump. Attending the inauguration ceremony will be the former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Walker Bush. Donald Trump will be the first incumbent president in 152 years that will not participate in the inauguration ceremony of his successor to the White House. After taking the presidential oath, Joe Biden will address a message of unity and healing to a deeply divided nation. Commentators say that no president in the modern history of the US has faced so many huge crises before taking office - the new coronavirus pandemic, economic emergencies, racial disputes and the challenge to try to unity a deeply divided nation, that could not agree on the candidate that won the presidential election. According to analysts, Joe Biden will try to mend his country's international alliance system.
Sibiu - The city of Sibiu, in central Romania, was nominated, for the second consecutive year, to the list of the best 20 European tourist destinations by the European Best Destinations Association. The competition for establishing the top will take place between January 20 and February 10. The city presentation highlighted the historical center, ways of spending time in the open, the region’s gastronomy and the trekking possibilities in the area. In 2020, Sibiu was ranked 6th, ahead of such destinations as Paris, Rome and Cork.
Moldova - The President of the Republic of Moldova, Maia Sandu, was on a two-day visit to Brussels, where she had meetings with the heads of the main European institutions, as well as with members of the Union's executive and parliament. During the meetings, she highlighted the priorities of her mandate – especially fighting corruption, speeding up of access to the COVID-19 vaccine for doctors and front-line healthcare workers, stepping up economic cooperation, gaining support for farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises. According to Maia Sandu, the interest of the Republic of Moldova is to expand and deepen cooperation with the EU in several areas, including the foreign policy dimension, as well as in relation to the continuous integration in the economy, energy, environmental protection and services domains.
ECHR - The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has condemned Romania for violating the right to private life, after the country's authorities refused to recognize the 'change of sexual identity' of two people because they had not undergone gender reassignment surgery - GRS. The two persons, of Romanian citizenship, aged 44 and 38, who are recorded in the civil status register as females, complained that the court rejected their requests to change their status because they did not provide evidence for GRS. According to the ECHR, the national courts placed the applicants, who did not want GRS, in a dead-end dilemma: either to undertake such surgery, against their own will, and giving up the full exercise of their right to have their physical integrity respected, or to give up their sexual identity, which is also related to the right to have one’s privacy respected. The ECHR also considered that the applicants had been placed in a situation of 'vulnerability, humiliation and anxiety'.
Handball - The Romanian women's handball champions, SCM Râmnicu Vâlcea (south), are taking on, today, at home, Buducnost Podgorica (Montenegro) in a remaining match from group B of the Champions League. In the first match, played two months ago, the Romanians lost to the Montenegrins, 28-29. On Sunday, they defeated, away from home, 27-25, the Croatian team Podravka, thus obtaining the first victory after six consecutive defeats. With two points, SCM is on the 6th place in the group. On top position is Györi Audi from Hungary. Also in the Champions League, CSM Bucharest, another Romanian women's handball team, is on 3rd position in Group A, dominated by Rostov Don from Russia. (tr. L. Simion)