A roundup of local and international news.
CORONAVIRUS – In Bucharest, the head of the Department for Emergencies, Raed Arafat, announced after a meeting of the National Committee for Emergencies on Friday that the quarantine periods would be reduced as of Saturday. A 5-day quarantine will be required for vaccinated people or people who had the disease in the last 180 days and a 10-day quarantine period for all other persons. The same rules will apply to direct contacts of people who test positive to the virus. The state of alert has been extended by the Government by another 30 days starting on Saturday and the use of textile or plastic masks is no longer permitted due to their very low efficiency. Only surgical or FFP2 masks are allowed. Almost 6 thousand new cases of Covid-19 were announced on Friday and 31 related deaths in 24 hours. Almost 8 million people have been fully vaccinated in Romania.
KAZAKSTAN – Western countries and organisations have called for an end to the violence in Kazakhstan, after the country’s president said he ordered security forces to "fire without warning", amid a violent crackdown on anti-government protests. The North Atlantic Alliance is worried about the developments in the former Soviet state, said Javier Colomina, NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for the South Caucasus and Central Asia. NATO called for restraint and calm and asked the authorities to respect the citizens’ right to peaceful protests. The German Government said that violence can never be an appropriate response and shooting civilians is not an option. The largest country in Central Asia is shaken by protests that broke out on Sunday in the west of the territory, because of the increase in the price of liquefied gas, and spread to the economic capital Almaty, where the demonstrations turned into a riot against the Power, and protesters stormed official buildings. At the request of the Kazakh government, Moscow, Belarus and Armenia sent troops while China voiced its support for the authorities.
CELEBRATION - Some 2 million Romanians celebrated their name day on Friday, when the Orthodox marked Saint John the Baptist feast day. St. John is considered the most important prophet, the one who makes the connection between the Old and New Testaments. He prophesied the coming to earth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, baptized Him, and revealed Him to the world as the Messiah. This day marked the end of the winter holidays.
DJOKOVIC - The Australian Interior Minister Karen Andrews said that Novak Djokovic was not being held captive and could leave the country whenever he wanted, while the famous Serbian tennis player spent the night in a Melbourne immigrant detention hotel and his lawyers were fighting against his deportation. The player's father, Srdjan Djokovic, has accused the Canberra government of imprisoning his son and wanting to humiliate him, and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic says the player is the victim of political persecution. Novak Djokovic, winner of the Australian Open, was detained at the airport in Melbourne after arriving in Australia on Wednesday, on grounds that there were issues with his entry visa. The tennis player had received a vaccination exemption against Covid-19 from the tournament organizers to compete in the event scheduled for January 17, but this was not enough for the border officials, who cancelled his visa saying that Djokovic failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet entry requirements into Australia'. Novak Djokovic is awaiting a court ruling on whether he can stay in Australia after his team of lawyers challenged his visa cancellation.
TENNIS - Romanian tennis player Simona Halep qualified on Friday for the semifinals of the Melbourne Summer Set 1 tournament. She defeated the Swiss Viktorija Golubic 6-2, 5-7, 6-4. Simona Halep (aged 30, 20 WTA) will face in the penultimate act the Chinese Qinwen Zheng (19 years old, 126 WTA). Another Romanian - Irina Begu - was, instead, defeated by the American Amanda Anisimova (2-6, 6-3, 6-2) in the quarterfinals of the Melbourne Summer Set 2 tournament. However, Irina Begu is qualified for the doubles semifinals, together with the Serbian Nina Stojanovic. On Saturday, the two will take on the second-seeded pair made up of Bernarda Pera (USA) / Katerina Siniakova (Czech Republic). (EE)