COVID-19 Romania reports over 107,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic in late February. 471 patients are in intensive care, out of nearly 6,900 hospitalised across the country. So far the death toll stands at 4,285. Meanwhile, 2 days after the start of a new school year, several schools in the country went into the so-called red scenario, with all classes held online, after teaching staff tested positive for Covid-19. In Romania the green scenario involves in-person classes, and the yellow scenario is a blend of online and face-to-face teaching. In other news, the Health Ministry announced purchasing double the amount of flu vaccines compared to last year. Three million vaccine doses will be given for free, especially to people over 65, to chronic patients, particularly those with respiratory and heart conditions, to institutionalised children and elderly, to healthcare personnel and pregnant women.
PANDEMIC Across the world, over 29 million coronavirus infection cases have been reported so far, with the death toll nearing 930,000. The US is the worst hit, with over 6.5 million cases and 194,000 deaths, followed by India, with close to 5 million cases. The situation worsens in Europe as well, with the number of cases on the rise in Hungary and in France, where containment measures are getting stricter. Denmark is also reintroducing restrictions in the capital city Copenhagen.
BUDGET A bill amending Romania’s state budget law is discussed as of today in the budget and finances committees of Parliament. The Social Democrats, in opposition but holding a majority of seats in Parliament, want to schedule the final vote for next week. They have tabled a number of amendments, including the scrapping of a provision that raises public pensions by 14% and the reintroduction of a 40% pension increase as of September 1, as stipulated in the original draft of the Pensions Act. Other amendments concern the doubling of child care allowances and increasing teacher salaries this year instead of 2021 as suggested by the government. The Liberals in power argue that these initiatives would put substantial pressure on the already oversized public spending.
ELECTIONS President Klaus Iohannis Wednesday signed into law a bill enabling Romanians in the diaspora to vote for 2 days in the parliamentary elections due this December. Other changes to the electoral legislation include an extension of voting hours to midnight for the people already queuing at polling stations at 9 PM. The Romanian foreign ministry urges Romanian citizens living abroad to choose to vote by post, which is a safe and simple option to exercise one’s right to vote, especially in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic. The foreign ministry warns that many states would not allow the opening of polling stations in this context.
EU The president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has today given her first state of the European Union address in the European Parliament in Brussels. The coronavirus pandemic and the uncertainties it has triggered are not over, and Europeans “are still suffering” and experiencing "a period of profound anxiety," Ursula von der Leyen pointed out. She thanked doctors and nurses as well as other COVID-19 frontline workers. Ursula von der Leyen announced the EU will set up its own biomedical research agency, and will hold a global summit on health next year in Italy. "We must tear down the barriers of the Single Market, we must cut red tape,” she also said, and added that the EC will come up with a new strategy on the future of the Schengen space and update its strategy on industry. All these will enable Europe to recover, and to prepare for tomorrow, Ursula von der Leyen argued. Every September the president of the EC delivers a State of the EU address before the European Parliament, reviewing the accomplishments of the past year and presenting the Commission’s priorities for the near future and its solutions to the most pressing challenges facing the EU.
TENNIS The Romanian player Simona Halep (no 2 WTA), today takes on the Italian Jasmine Paolini (99 WTA) in the 2nd round of the WTA tournament in Rome. Another Romanian, Irina Begu (77 WTA) plays on Thursday against Britain’s Johanna Konta (13 WTA), in the same tournament. In the doubles, Raluca Olaru (Romania) and Anna-Lena Friedsam (Germany), play today against Miyu Kato (Japan) and Sabrina Santamari (USA). Also in the doubles, the Romanians Simona Halep and Monica Niculescu are playing the eighth-finals on Thursday against the Japanese Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara. (translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)