COVID-19 The number of new Covid-19 cases in Romania on Saturday was 455, out of over 28,000 tests. In hospitals, the number of coronavirus patients is under 3,700, 623 of them in intensive care. Also, 59 COVID-related deaths were reported for the past 24 hours. The vaccine rollout continues, with several vaccination marathons scheduled this weekend in various cities. Drive-thru centres are also operational in several parts of the country. Since the end of December, nearly 7.3 million vaccine doses have been administered in Romania, with more than 3.1 million people receiving the booster dose as well.
PILGRIMAGE Thousands took part on Saturday in the traditional Catholic Whitsun pilgrimage in Şumuleu Ciuc, in central Romania. The organisers have taken measures to ensure the event complies with the Covid-19 safety rules. Hundreds of volunteers have been mobilized to this end, alongside hundreds of gendarmes, police, firefighters, mountain rescue workers and ambulances. Last year, the pilgrimage on Mount Şumuleu, which brought together over 100,000 people from around the world every year, was cancelled over the pandemic. In 2019, on June 1, Pope Francis travelled to Şumuleu Ciuc, where he held a service devoted to Mary, the Mother of God. The Şumuleu Ciuc pilgrimage dates back more than 450 years.
ECONOMY The Romanian finance minister Alexandru Nazare took part on Friday and Saturday in Lisbon in this year’s first physical meeting of the Economic and Financial Council (ECOFIN). Nazare announced in a Facebook post that on Saturday he had bilateral meetings with EU officials, including Commissioners Valdis Dombrovskis and Paolo Gentiloni, and with his counterparts from Greece, Spain, Ireland and Italy, and discussed the state of European economies in the context of the pandemic and the implementation of the European Recovery and Resilience Mechanism. According to the Romanian official, the ECOFIN session began on Friday with talks on the structure of the economic and fiscal policies designed to facilitate the quick recovery of the European economies after the COVID-19 pandemic.
MOLDOVA In the Republic of Moldova the campaign for the July 11 snap elections has officially started. Political analysts say this would be a tough race between pro-European and pro-Russian parties. The pro-European Action and Solidarity Party, founded by the incumbent president of the country, Maia Sandu, promised a fair and clean campaign, to gain citizens’ trust. Their main opponent is the Socialists Party headed by the former president Igor Dodon, which forms a pro-Russian electoral bloc together with Vladimir Voronin’s Communists. Also running for seats in parliament is the party headed by the mayor of Bălţi town, Renato Usatyi, which aims to win over a chunk of the pro-Moscow electorate, and a party headed by Ilan Shor, the hideaway tycoon who lives in Israel after having been sentenced to 7 years in prison by a court of first instance, following the USD 1 billion bank fraud scandal.
PANDEMIC As of Monday Spain opens its borders to travelers from countries deemed safe, such as the UK, Austria, China, Israel and Japan, without healthcare restrictions, the Radio România corrspondent in Madrid reports. As of June 7 travellers who have completed a full vaccination scheme approved by the WHO or the European Medicines Agency will also be welcomed to the country. Austria has also revised entry conditions, with the new measures to be enforced as of the end of June. People travelling to Austria from countries for which travel alerts are not in place, Romania included, are exempt from self-isolation requirements. Entry into Austria is allowed for those who produce a vaccination certificate, a negative SARS-CoV-2 test or an anti-body test taken in the past 3 months. Tests are not required for children up to 10 years of age. (tr. A.M. Popescu)