Covid-19 Ro. Another four people infected with the new coronavirus have died in Romania, raising the death-toll to 1141, the Strategic Communication Group has announced today. According to authorities, the total number of infections has exceeded 17 thousand. 10 thousand people have been cured. As regards the Romanians abroad, some three thousand have been contaminated, mostly in Italy, Spain and Germany. 103 have died, most of them in Great Britain, Italy and France.
State of alert. The Romanian Parliament convenes today to vote on the recent decision of the Liberal Government on the state of alert in Romania, declared with the aim of preventing and combating the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the new law, parliament has five days, from the endorsement request, to issue a decision. The opposition Social Democratic Party intends to bring changes to the document. They include exceptions from the obligation to wear protective masks, especially for those with health issues, but only under certain conditions. Also, the Government might have to present in parliament, on a regular basis, the measures it takes. The state of alert was declared for a period of 30 days, but, according to the law, which came into force on May 18th, if it covers the entire territory of Romania, it has to be endorsed by parliament.
Meeting. The Romanian PM Ludovic Orban has attended an informal meeting with his Bulgarian and Greek counterparts and the president of Serbia. The meeting was held at the initiative of the Bulgarian PM and focused on the situation created by the Covid-19 pandemic and the prospects of relaxing cross-border traffic restrictions between the four states, in a coordinated manner. The circulation of people between Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia will be allowed as of June 1st, without the obligation of going under a 14 day quarantine, the Bulgarian Government has announced. Romania has not made any decision yet.
Labour. The Romanian Labour Minister Violeta Alexandru and her German counterpart Hubertus Heil have discussed in Berlin the situation of the Romanian seasonal workers in Germany and signed a joint declaration of intent on boosting cooperation with regard to the labour market and social policies. Romanian workers must benefit from the same rights of social protection, health and safety at work, said the federal minister. In turn, the Romanian Ambassador to Berlin, Emil Hurezeanu, has stated that the protests staged by the Romanian workers at several farms and abbatoirs in Germany against labour and accommodation conditions will lead to a change in the country's labour legislation. He has added that the German Labour Minister will present Chancellor Angela Merkel with a bill on this matter. The leadership of the Romanian Parliament has approved, at the proposal of the opposition Social Democrats, the setting up of an investigation commission, responsible for checking the situation of seasonal workers abroad during the pandemic.
Drought. The drought that affects the countries in the east of the EU is devastating harvests and will cause the most serious economic recession in the region since the fall of Communism, according to Bloomberg, quoted by Agerpress. According to the quoted source, in some parts of Romania and Poland, this year's drought is the most severe in the past 100 years, and in the Czech Republic, the worst in the past 500 years. Romania, which is the second largest exporter of wheat in the EU, has reported a drop to half the annual average, which usually stood at 9 million tons. That is why the Romanian Government banned the export of wheat to destinations other than the EU, and that triggered a lot of criticism. A week later, the Government dropped the ban. Recently, the Romanian agriculture minister Adrian Oros has stated that more than one million hectares of farming land have been affected.
Ban. As of today, the sale of menthol cigarettes is banned in Romania. The decision falls under the EU Tobacco Product Directive, which was transposed into Romanian laws four years ago. According to the EC, menthol cigarettes are more harmful than other cigarettes, as menthol turns into carcinogenic substances. According to market representatives, there are some 4.2 million adult smokers in Romania, and 16% of them smoke menthol cigarettes, mostly women.
WHO. The annual ministerial meeting of the WHO has adopted a resolution proposed by the EU on the need for an investigation of the global reaction to the coronavirus pandemic. In the meantime, the number of infections has reached 5 million around the world, and the death-toll is standing at 325 thousand. 2 million people who had tested positive have been declared cured, according to Worldometers. The US remains the most affected country in the world, with some 92 thousand deaths and more than 1.5 million cases of contamination. Brazil has exceeded the threshold of 1000 deaths in one day, with 1179 deaths reported in the past 24 hours, raising the total to approximately 18 thousand. In Europe, the UK reports the largest number of deaths, some 43 thousand, followed by Italy, France and Spain. Madrid authorities have announced that in Spain wearing a mask is mandatory for all, except for children below 6, both in enclosed and open spaces, if the distance of at least 2 meters between individuals cannot be observed. (M.Ignatescu)