The fight against COVID and the tragedy in Piatra Neamt
Right on the day that the state of alert in Romania was extended by 30 days, last Saturday, in Piatra Neamt in the north east of the country, a major tragedy occurred at the county hospital. A conflagration was caused by a ventilator in the intensive care unit. The disaster, which left many dead and injured, was followed throughout the week by a wave of accusations, but also political excuses, some of them obviously made with the December 6th elections in mind. A criminal case was opened, which could result in manslaughter charges, as well as investigations in IC units throughout the country. President Klaus Iohannis had a meeting with healthcare decision makers, physicians, and medical engineers, to identify dysfunctionalities at the national level. At the end, the head of state promised to modernize medicinal gas systems and electrical wiring, as well as a restructuring of legal and financial instruments that underlie maintenance systems in hospitals. In parallel, considering that the number of COVID infections is on the rise, IC units are getting crowded. Right after the tragedy in Piatra Neamt, PM Ludovic Orban promised to increase the capacity of the units, and funds for their proper functioning. Also this week, quarantines continued to be applied in localities in which the rate of infection went above the prescribed level. At the same time, an announcement was made that work is being done on a strategy of vaccination against the virus. Added to that are street protests by healthcare workers, who picketed the central government building in Bucharest with signs that read 'The healthcare system is sick' and 'In a country of improvised measures, we are not the guilty ones'.
Romania salutes the result of presidential elections in the Republic of Moldova
Pro-European candidate Maia Sandu became the first woman president in the neighboring Republic of Moldova. She got 57.5% of the vote, beating pro-Russian incumbent, Socialist Igor Dodon. Sandu said her priorities were curbing corruption, stopping embezzlement of public money, and reforming the political class. Here is what she said:
“I want us to get over our divisions, to unite society and domestic politics, and foreign policy. To build a dignified foreign policy, able to benefit our citizens. To bring Moldova close to European standards through reforms and hard work at home.”
Maia Sandu received congratulations from many world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, although the Kremlin openly supported her rival, Igor Dodon. From Bucharest, President Klaus Iohannis conveyed his new Moldovan counterpart congratulations for her victory. In a telephone conversation, the two agreed to widen the bilateral Strategic Partnership, aimed at the European integration of the Republic of Moldova. Klaus Iohannis will visit Chisinau after Maia Sandu takes over the presidency.
Gaudeamus, books of learning
The 27th edition of the Gaudeamus Radio Romania Book Fair takes place online this year, due to the health crisis caused by the coronavirus. Starting on November 16th , over 100 companies, publishing houses, distributors of Romanian and foreign books, music, and educational games, await their visitors. The virtual stands can be accessed on the website gaudeamus.ro, where readers can buy books. There is a section for the approximately 200 events, live or recorded, held by Radio Romania and the participants. Writer Norman Manea, who lives in the US, proposed several times for the Nobel Prize for Literature, is the honorary president of the fair this year. He said that holding the fair during the pandemic is an act of heroism:
“It seemed to me a heroic act, at a time when everything is on shaky ground, and sometimes collapses. Culture, as you well know, is not absolutely necessary unless people call for it. This initiative comes from people, people from Romania this time, and, as I said, a sort of cultural heroism. It should grant the participants, and even people who just hear about it, trust in the revival of a normal world”.
The Gaudeamus Radio Romania Book Fair ends on Sunday, November 22nd.
Young Romanian footballers at the Euro 2021
The under 21 Romanian team has qualified for the youth European football championships 2021, tying 1-all at home with Denmark, in the last game of the preliminary 8th group. The young Romanians got their second qualification in a row for the final tournament. In their last tournament, they made it all the way to the semi-finals. The youth EURO 2021 youth competition will be hosted by Hungary and Slovenia. Also this week, in the recently minted League of Nations, the senior players from Romania tied 1-all against Northern Ireland away from home. At the same time, Romania won at home at the green table against Norway 3-0, due to a coronavirus case in the Scandinavian team. As a result, Romania has reached its aim of being in the second tier in the drawing of the lots for the 2022 World Cup. The last participation by the Romanian national team at a world final tournament was in France, in 1998.