COVID-19 Another 420 cases of infection with the new coronavirus have been reported in Romania, taking the total number of contaminations to 28,166, the Strategic Communication Group announced on Friday. Over the past 24 hours 21 people have died, taking the death toll to 1,708. 224 people are still in intensive care, while 20,433 patients have recovered. Another 7 Romanian nationals infected with the coronavirus died in Germany, with the total number of Romanians living abroad who died during the pandemic reaching 122. The Romanian health minister Nelu Tătaru has said that at present there is no risk of reinstating the state of emergency in the context of the coronavirus pandemic but the state of alert might be extended, if necessary. He provided data pointing to a steady increase in the number of contaminations over the past 3 weeks, and pointed out that restrictions may be further lifted only if the evolution of the pandemic allows it. The state of alert introduced in Romania is due to end in mid-July.
PANDEMIC As many as 11 million cases of COVID-19 contamination have been reported around the world since the start of the pandemic with around 6 million people having recovered. More than 520,000 people have died. The US, Brazil and Great Britain are the countries hardest hit by the pandemic. The US has reported more than 2.7 million cases. News agencies write that the number of cases in the US is higher than ever, since the onset of the pandemic and more and more people are being hospitalized in Houston (Texas) and Phoenix (Arizona).
SCHENGEN Joining Europe’s border-free area remains a priority for Romania, the foreign minister Bogdan Aurescu reiterated in Bucharest on Friday, at the conference occasioned by the start of Germany’s presidency of the Council of the EU. More flexibility is required in this respect, and the current crisis has proved that including Romania and Bulgaria in the Schengen area would be a gain, Bogdan Aurescu said. In turn, the German Ambassador to Bucharest, Cord Meier-Klodt, sent a message of unity and solidarity, emphasizing that the motto of the German presidency is “Together for Europe’s recovery." On July 1, Germany took over the 6-month rotating presidency of the Council of the EU. Romania’s and Bulgaria’s Schengen accession has been repeatedly postponed because of the opposition of some member states, primarily over the absence of reforms in the judiciary.
FRANCE The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, has appointed Jean Castex as the new PM of France. A conservative politician aged 62, Castex was re-elected on Sunday mayor of a small town in southern France. In April he had been appointed by Macron to prepare a strategy for lifting the COVID-19 lockdown. Radio Romania’s correspondent in Paris mentions that the outgoing PM, Edouard Philippe, stepped down on Friday morning.
IMMIGRANTS The Romanian border police have identified 23 citizens from Syria, Palestine and Egypt who were trying to illegally cross the border from Romania into Hungary. During the investigation they stated they were trying to reach Germany, Austria and Sweden. The driver of the van transporting the immigrants is being investigated for immigrant trafficking and is going to be taken into temporary custody for 30 days.
CANNES The Romanian short film ‘Contraindications’ by Lucia Chicoş has been selected for the Cinefondation section of the Cannes International Film Festival. The director is a student with the I.L. Caragiale National University of Theater and Film in Bucharest and the film is 19 minutes long. The other countries participating in the Cinefondation section this year are Israel, Great Britain, Argentina, Hungary, India, Switzerland, the US, South Korea, France, Poland, Portugal, Germany and Slovenia.
GREECE The Romanian authorities are making diplomatic efforts to deal with the situation of the long queues of Romanian tourists waiting to enter Greece. The Romanian Foreign Ministry officials have called on the Greek authorities to identify solutions to streamline traffic flow through the only opened border-crossing point between Bulgaria and Greece, namely Kulata – Promachonas. The Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu talked on the phone with his Greek counterpart and suggested the opening of other checkpoints too, given that the tourist season has begun. The Greek side has announced they are looking into the situation and are trying to work out solutions to solve the problem. As of this month, Greece has introduced random tests for foreign tourists who reach the Greek territory by air, road or sea. After testing, tourists will wait for the result in self-isolation at their tourist destination. (tr. L. Simion, A.M. Popescu)