COVID-19 RO. The daily number of new COVID-19 cases in Romania is constantly growing. Another 9,714 cases, the highest number since the onset of the pandemic, were reported on Thursday by the Strategic Communication Group, out of 37,685 tests performed. The total number of people infected with the new coronavirus exceeded 276,802. Another 121 people died, the total number of deaths in Romania reaching 7,540. 12,061 people with COVID-19 are hospitalized in the specialized health units, of which 1,014 in intensive care, the largest number so far. The Government is to decide the mandatory use of masks in all public spaces, where the rate of infection is 1.5 per one thousand inhabitants.
PANDEMIC. European countries facing a new wave of the coronavirus pandemic have stepped up restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday declared a lockdown for the entire country until the end of November. During this period all stores will be closed except for supermarkets and pharmacies. Middle schools will remain open but high schools will be closed and civilians will need a self-declaration to leave their homes. In England, a four-week quarantine has come into force, as the latest daily figures show that nearly 500 people diagnosed with COVID-19 died within 24 hours, the worst toll since May. Restaurants, pubs, cafés, non-essential shops, gyms, swimming pools, hairdressers and beauty shops stay closed until 2 December. Schools and churches remain open. In Spain, several regions have closed non-essential activities, restaurants and gyms. The region of Castilla y León has announced that, as of Friday, it closes restaurants and gyms and bans visits to homes for the elderly.
TELEWORK. Working from home came with advantages, but also with disadvantages for Romanian companies, especially for those in which, before the pandemic, the use of email, video conferencing systems and other platforms was unknown, reveals a study conducted at national level by the consulting company Frames. The biggest inconveniences are related to the absence of social interaction with colleagues, mentioned by about 60% of those surveyed, the lack of an optimal work environment and the higher workload in the new conditions. The increase in cybersecurity risks is also on the list of challenges. Most of the respondents did not benefit from any form of training in the field of management, information security and personal data protection. According to the study, the elements that can reduce the dangers of working from home are related to online training of employees on recognizing fake websites and avoiding scam emails and phishing, to use the work laptop only for professional activities and to proper manage passwords and other security measures.
PROTEST. Representatives of the Sanitary Solidarity Federation protested in Bucharest on Thursday, demanding decent working conditions for employees in the sector. They say that such actions will continue every Thursday until the requests are resolved. The list of demands includes, among other things, the adoption of all necessary measures to protect the health and safety of health workers, so as to significantly reduce the number of employees infected and killed by COVID-19. The trade unions also demand access to all relevant information on the impact of COVID-19 on health workers and the granting of all bonuses for maximum working conditions. The protest took place two days after the 'Exhaustion Rally' organized on November 3 by health and social workers, members of the SANITAS Federation, who expressed dissatisfaction with what they describe as the 'incoherent crisis strategies' of the authorities regarding the approach of the epidemic.
ECONOMY. Romania's economy will register a contraction of 5.2% this year, less severe than initially estimated, thanks to investments and construction works, according to the autumn economic forecasts published on Thursday by the European Commission (EC), taken over by Agerpres. The Community Executive's estimates are more optimistic than in the spring. Then the Commission forecasted that the Romanian economy will register a contraction of 6% this year. For the next 2 years, the EC estimates that the Romanian economy will gradually recover, with a growth of 3.3% in 2021 and 3.8% in 2022, respectively. However, uncertainty remains very high, given the recent pandemic developments, and real growth will not return to pre-crisis levels until the end of 2022. Instead, the Commission estimates that Romania's government deficit will increase to 10.3% of GDP in 2020, compared to 9.2% of GDP as forecast in spring and will continue to grow in the coming years, reaching 11.3% of GDP in 2021 and 12.5% of the GDP in 2022.
NATO. NATO and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania are jointly organizing the 16th annual NATO Conference on Weapons of Mass Destruction, Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, in videoconference format. The hosting and organization of the event is a concrete expression of Romania's contribution to the Allied efforts to consolidate the global architecture on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The event will be opened by Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The Conference marks the 50th anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and will provide a framework for debate in the perspective of the Evaluation Conference of this Treaty, scheduled for August 2021. We recall that in 2019, the Romanian Mircea Geoana took over the office of Deputy Secretary General of NATO.
US ELECTION. The final results of the US election, in which the Americans had to choose between the current president, the Republican Donald Trump, and the former vice president, the Democrat Joe Biden, are still awaited, given that most people resorted to postal voting and the states have different ways of counting votes. Meanwhile, Donald Trump's campaign team has filed a lawsuit in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia, demanding that the counting of votes be stopped. A campaign official has accused the Democrats of trying to overturn and weaken the Republican vote. International observers say there is no evidence of widespread electoral fraud, but the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, insisted that the counting of votes in big cities was somehow fraudulent. Earlier, Donald Trump's campaigners announced that they were calling for a recount of votes in another crucial state, Wisconsin, where they complained about irregularities. The election came against the background of a country severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with the highest number of contaminations and deaths in the world. However, according to Radio Romania's correspondent in Washington, the turnout was impressive, showing Americans' interest in the election. ( M. Ignatescu)