A roundup of domestic and international news.
FIRE – Another patient among the ones who had been transferred from the Matei Bals infectious diseases hospital, following Friday’s fire, has died, bringing the death toll to 6, the Romanian Health Ministry announced. Investigations are under way at the Matei Bals hospital, where several wards have been completely destroyed by fire. Members of the hospital’s medical staff are being heard by the police. Over 100 patients have been transferred to other medical units. Representatives of the hospital say that the medical unit has all licenses and approvals needed for functioning and that they will support the ongoing investigation. The healthcare system must be reformed and investment is needed in medical infrastructure so that such tragedy never happens again, President Klaus Iohannis and PM Florin Citu have said. The Social Democrats, in the opposition, say it is outrageous that the government has done nothing to prevent such tragic events, after last year the fire at the ICU of the Emergency Hospital in Piatra Neamt killed 10 patients.
VACCINE - A second batch of over 21 thousand doses of Moderna vaccine were delivered to Romania on Saturday, according to the Committee for the Coordination of Activities on Vaccination against Covid-19. The doses will be distributed to vaccination centers across the country. Romania currently uses the Pfizer – BioNTech vaccine. Authorities say the two vaccines are similar and their efficiency rate is quite the same, 95% for Pfizer and 94.1% for Moderna. Both are based on the ARN messenger technology. According to Health Minister Vlad Voiculescu, Romania has fewer doses than needed, for which reason some categories of people have been rescheduled for the first dose of the vaccine. Almost 650 thousand people have been vaccinated in Romania so far. Another 2,700 new infections were reported in Romania on Saturday, out of 31 thousand tests, and 68 people died.
TALKS - Romania has made important progress in the process of accession to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and continues to count on the support of France, Finance Minister Alexandru Nazare has said. On Friday, in a conference call with his French counterpart, Bruno le Maire, he discussed about perspectives for the European economy in 2021. The French official has accepted the invitation of Minister Nazare to pay a working visit to Bucharest when the epidemiological situation allows it.
APPROVAL - The European Medicines Agency on Friday approved the anti-COVID-19 vaccine produced by the British-Swedish company AstraZeneca, the third vaccine green lighted for use in the European Union. The vaccine was approved for people over the age of 18. The company has been at the centre of a dispute over the speed of supplies, which disrupted national vaccination campaigns in a number of countries. In order to make sure that vaccines are distributed in keeping with the contract, the EU has decided to introduce a control mechanism of exports for the vaccines produced in the member states. On the other hand, a number of European countries such as France, Germany and the Czech Republic have announced tougher restrictions at their borders, over worries generated by the new variants of Covid-19. Germany has banned, as of Saturday, the access to its territory of most visitors from the UK, Ireland, Portugal, Brazil and South Africa. Also starting on Saturday, the Czech authorities do not allow unessential access to the country, while France closes its borders for non-EU citizens and requires EU citizens to present a negative Covid test upon entering the country.
PROSECUTORS - The Romanian Ministry of Justice on Friday selected six candidates for the position of delegate prosecutor in Romania of the European Public Prosecutor's Office. The candidates are Dana-Manuela Ana, Camelia-Elena Grecu, Constantin Irina and Jean-Nicolae Uncheselu - all four from the National Anti-corruption Direction, Dana-Cristina Bunea from the Prosecutor's Office with the High Court of Cassation and Justice and Florin Bogdan Munteanu from the Court in Iasi, north-eastern Romania. The prosecutors will be working for the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) in their home countries and will have the same responsibilities as national prosecutors in terms of investigations, criminal actions and prosecution. The EPPO will also investigate fraud and other crimes infringing on the EU's financial interests. EPPO will also be investigating crimes with EU-wide effects or crimes perpetrated by civil servants or members of European institutions. We recall Romanian Laura Codruța Kovesi is the head of the European Public Prosecutor's Office. (Translated by EE)