COVID-19 On Saturday
the Strategic Communication Group reported nearly 5,000 new COVID-19 cases in Romania,
with 79 new deaths and over 1,200 patients in intensive care. The total number
of infections so far is over 855,000, with the death toll standing at over
21,400. As of March 14, Romania extends the state of alert by another 30 days,
amid growing numbers of COVID-19 cases. All
restrictions valid so far will be maintained, and a night curfew will be in
place between 10 pm and 5 am, one hour longer than at present. Accommodation
facilities in mountain resorts will only be allowed to receive guests at 70% of
their capacity. Meanwhile, the vaccine rollout continues, with nearly 1.4
million people immunised since late December, most of them with the Pfizer
vaccine. Romania has
temporarily suspended the use of an AstraZeneca vaccine batch, but continues to
use doses from other batches. The decision came after several European
countries reported severe side effects and even deaths among people who have
received doses from the respective batch.
PANDEMIC The World Health Organisation said there are no reasons not to use the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, after several European countries announced they had suspended it as a precaution, according to WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris. The European Commission calls on states to follow the advice of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which says that so far nothing points to higher blood clot risks in people having received the AstraZeneca shots. Meanwhile, the “digital green passport” project to be presented in Brussels on Wednesday will only take into account the COVID-19 vaccines authorised by the EMA, a senior EU official said on Friday. Four vaccines are authorised for use in the EU at this point--Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/Oxford and Johnson & Johnson. The Chinese vaccine Sinopharm, used in Hungary even by PM Viktor Orban, is not included, and neither is Russia’s Sputnik V, ordered by Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia and under EMA assessment since March 4. Around the world, according to worldometers, over 119 million people have so far caught the virus. Some 95 million people recovered and more than 2.6 million died.
ENERGY The Romanian energy minister Virgil Popescu announced he will be in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday, to discuss the restructuring of the Oltenia Power Compound. In December, the Romanian government notified the European Commission of the restructuring plan for the power production unit, which included state aid. On February 5, the EC announced launching an in-depth investigation into the state aid measure. The Oltenia Power Compound needs the Commission’s approval by the end of April, if it is to receive state aid enabling it to pay the CO2 emission certificates for last year.
FRIGATE The Romanian frigate 'Regina Maria' Saturday joined the Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG-2), operating in the Black Sea. The frigate, with a crew of 238, will carry out NATO monitoring missions along with 5 other vessels from Bulgaria, Greece, Spain and Turkey, as part of SNMG-2, subordinated to the Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM).
DRUGS Romanian prosecutors with the Directorate Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism and police officers with the Organised Crime Brigade seized over 1 kilo of cocaine and nearly 4,000 Ecstasy pills in Brasov, as part of a high-risk drug trafficking investigation. Eight people were apprehended, and for 6 of them the court has issued 30-day arrest warrants.
HANDBALL The best Romanian women’s handball teams, SCM Râmnicu Vâlcea and CSM Bucharest, are playing today against each other in the second leg of the Champions League eighth-finals. In the first leg, the Bucharest side won 33 - 24, although playing away from home. The European handball federation has decided that all teams in the 2 groups should move on into the eighth-finals, as a result of many matches being postponed over the Covid-19 pandemic. (tr. A.M. Popescu)