Covid-19. The Romanian Government decided yesterday to extend the state of alert by another 30 days, against the background of the Covid-19 pandemic. The measure comes into force today, though several restrictions have also been lifted. Among other things, fitness centers, betting and gambling centers and the shops inside malls have been reopened. Also, religious masses are allowed inside churches. According to Bucharest officials, although the trend has been downward, the number of cases of infection with the new coronavirus might grow anytime. Lately, new cases have been reported, raising the total to 22,415 infections. The death toll now stands at 1451. Of those who tested positive, more than 16,100 have been cured and discharged from hospital.
Bill. The Romanian Senate has adopted the bill that annuls most of the fines given during the state of emergency decreed against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic and declared unconstitutional. To get rid of fines, people will no longer have to go to court. The provisions of the bill do not apply to contraventions issued due to violation of home isolation and quarantine measures and due to disturbance of peace and public order. One of the initiators, the leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu, has stated that that if the 300,000 fines end up being challenged in court, they will overcrowd the courts. In reply, the leader of the Liberal Senators Daniel Fenechiu, has said that Parliament cannot cancel the minutes of the fines. The bill will be sent to the Chamber of Deputies, which is the decision-making body on this matter.
NATO. The Romanian Minister of Defense, Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă, participates, between June 17 and 18, in a NATO defense ministers' meeting, held via video-conference. The main topics on the agenda of the meeting are focused on assessing the state of implementation of the deterrent and defense posture and allied operations and missions, as well as NATO's response to the pandemic crisis. NATO defense ministers are set to approve a new plan of operations for a second wave of the pandemic, supplies of medical equipment to be offered immediately to states in need, and the creation of a fund to purchase essential medical products. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has pointed out that dangers other than the new coronavirus have not disappeared, and that is why the agenda lists NATO's basic criteria for the national resilience of the member states. These criteria cover key sectors such as energy, transport and telecommunications. A package of political and military measures to counter the threat posed by the growing Russian nuclear presence near NATO will also be discussed.
Pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has killed about 450,000 people since it first appeared in China in December, according to official data. Nearly 8.3 million cases of infection have been diagnosed, and the number of people cured has reached 4.3 million. France Presse reports that the number of cases diagnosed reflects only part of the actual number of infections, as some countries test only in severe cases, others use priority tests for follow-up and many poor countries have limited detection capabilities. The countries with the highest number of deaths are the United States and Brazil. With nearly 120,000 dead, the United States has, since Tuesday, more COVID-19 casualties than the number of American soldiers killed in World War I, the French agency also reports
Flights. The National Company Bucharest Airports has organized for today an event titled 'Everything will be fine!', which marks the resumption of flights after the break imposed by the global crisis triggered by the pandemic. The aviation industry is one of the economic branches most affected by the measures aimed at limiting the spread of the new virus, measures materialized in the cancellation of millions of flights and in the travel ban borne by people everywhere. According to the organizers, in the last two months, the National Company Bucharest Airports has registered a decrease in air passenger traffic of about 98%. At the same time, the event is dedicated to the celebration of the flight of the first plane designed, made and piloted in Romania by Aurel Vlaicu, on June 17, 1910. We recall that Romania has canceled the flight ban to and from several countries.
Desertification. Every year, on June 17, is World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. The purpose of this day is to emphasize the need to stop or slow down the desertification process and to be aware of the effects of the drought. According to the United Nations, a third of the planet's surface is threatened by desertification and more than a billion people in about 100 states are exposed to the harmful effects of this phenomenon. Economic losses are estimated at about $ 42 billion annually. Romania is also affected, this year, by the worst drought of the last half century. (M.Ignatescu)