VACCINE Over 6,200 new Covid-19 cases were reported on Tuesday in Romania, out of 30,000 tests. A record 1,405 patients are in intensive care, and 175 people died. The total number of infections since the start of the pandemic in Romania is over 946,000, and the death toll is 23,400. Meanwhile, the vaccine rollout continues in Romania, with some 2 million people having received at least one dose so far and nearly half of them having also got the booster. The vaccination rate is expected to reach 100,000 people per day in April, PM Florin Cîţu said. New measures are in place to contain the epidemic. In areas with infection rates above 4 per thousand, a weekend curfew is in place between 8 pm and 5 am, and shops must close at 6 pm. Where the infection rate is over 7.5 per thousand, these measures are applied throughout the week.
PROTESTS The capital Bucharest and other cities in Romania saw large-scale protests against the Government’s COVID-19 containment measures for the second consecutive day on Monday. The participants chanted anti-government protests, burnt face masks and protested what they called a “medical dictatorship.” PM Florin Cîţu said that after a year of restrictions, citizens have the right to protest, but they must do so in compliance with the law. Some rallies spiraled into clashes towards midnight, with 12 gendarmes injured slightly in Bucharest. A total of 188 people were escorted to police stations. The Bucharest Prefect Alin Stoica emphasized the restrictions will not be dropped because of the protests.
PANDEMIC Leaders of more than 20 countries, the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the WHO director, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, call for a new international treaty for the handling of future pandemics. In an opinion article run around the world, Covid-19 is described as the biggest challenge facing the global community since WW2. The authors commit to providing universal and fair access to vaccines, diagnostic and treatment, until the whole world is safe. However, leaders of major G20 members, including the US, Russia, China, Japan, India and Brazil, have not joined the initiative. Over 128 million people have caught the novel coronavirus around the world, of whom nearly 103 million have recovered and at least 2.8 million died.
ECONOMY Romania’s consolidated budget deficit reached some 2.6 billion euros, accounting for 1.14% of the GDP in the first 2 months of this year, as against 0.33% in January and 0.73% in the corresponding period of 2020. The finance ministry blamed the record figure on the exceptional expenditure entailed by the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s budget deficit target is 7.16% GDP.
SUEZ After nearly a week of efforts, the Egyptian authorities managed on Monday afternoon to free the container ship stranded in the Suez Canal, with traffic to be fully restored in the next few days. About 450 ships had been stuck because of the incident. In Bucharest, the National Sanitary-Veterinary Authority announced steps were taken to give priority to the 11 Romanian vessels carrying livestock. The Suez Canal connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean and is the shortest maritime route between Europe and Asia. Around 12% of the world’s trade takes place through this waterway.
FOOTBALL Romania’s Under-21 football team plays tonight against Germany in Budapest, in a decisive match in the 2021 European Youth Championship’s Group A. On Saturday Romania beat Hungary 2-1, after a previous draw against the Netherlands, 1-1. The European Championship’s group stage ends on March 31, with the top 2 teams in each group moving up into the Final 8 tournament, scheduled between May 31 and June 6. Meanwhile, Romania’s senior national team takes on Armenia in Yerevan on Wednesday, in Group J of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers. So far Romania lost to Germany but defeated North Macedonia. The group also includes Iceland and Liechtenstein. The top team in each group qualifies into the 2022 World Cup, with the runners-up facing each other in playoffs. Romania last took part in a World Cup in 1998, in France. (tr. A.M. Popescu)