NEGOTIATIONS The Liberals Monday started negotiations with parliamentary parties with a view to forming a new majority that would support the investiture of Florin Citu's Cabinet. The parliamentary hearings of the new ministers designate are scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The Social-Democrats in opposition accuse the Liberals of not giving up on the idea of early elections. Save Romania Union’s president Dan Barna said on Monday that the Liberals did not expressly ask for support for the Ciţu government, and added that his party believes the goal is to attain stability. The president of the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians Kelemen Hunor says his party is ready to ensure the majority required for the investiture of the new cabinet, but that a final decision depends on the order regarding early elections. The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats claims the Liberals try to make sure that the new Cabinet is rejected by Parliament, while the People's Movement Party says a Liberal Government backed by a parliamentary minority is unlikely to be sworn in. Florin Cîţu's nomination by president Klaus Iohannis came after the Constitutional Court ruled as unconstitutional the president's first choice, the interim prime minister and leader of the National Liberal Party Ludovic Orban. The latter's government had been dismissed through a vote of no-confidence at the beginning of February.
COVID-19 The Strategic Communication Group Monday announced that in Romania 42 people are in quarantine centres and over 9,000 are under home monitoring. So far 3 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Romania, one of whom has recovered and has been discharged, and the other 2 are reported to be in good state. Meanwhile, the Romanian Foreign Ministry announced that the 7 Romanian members of the crew of Diamond Princess vessel, who were transferred last week to a facility in Wako, Japan, are still quarantined. Two other Romanians were brought into the same facility on Sunday, and will remain there for an additional 14 days. The Foreign Ministry added that the state of the 2 Romanians infected with COVID-19 and hospitalised in Japan remains good. On the other hand, the death toll of the new coronavirus has exceeded 3,000, and over 80,000 cases have been confirmed so far, most of them in China, where the daily number of victims is decreasing steadily. South Korea and Italy are of particular concern now, reporting 500 new cases in one day and dozens of deaths so far. The coronavirus risk level in Europe has been raised from moderate to high, the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced on Monday. 2,100 cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed in 18 EU member countries to date.
LEGISLATION The Senate Monday endorsed unanimously a bill that increases punishments for the sexual abuse of children. The bill, tabled by an independent Deputy, raises the minimum penalties for sex crimes against children and introduces in the Romanian legislation a number of provisions from the EU laws designed to fight the sexual abuse and exploitation of children and child pornography. Under the new bill, rape will be punished by 5 to 10 years in prison, as against 3 to 10 years as it was so far, and offences that result in the death of the victim will be punished by 9 to 18 years behind bars. In order to take effect, the bill must be endorsed by the Chamber of Deputies as well.
FLU The number of deaths from seasonal flu in Romania has reached 49. The last 2 people who died are men, aged 69 and 75 respectively, in Ilfov and Harghita counties. They were both suffering from other conditions and had not received a vaccine. The number of flu cases continued to grow, with around 2,000 new cases confirmed between February 17 and 23. The overall number of people affected by acute respiratory infections (156,500) is a lot higher than last year, but the number of cases is on a downward trend compared to the previous week.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)