The COVID-19 epidemic in Romania
As containment measures are gradually eased, Romania is facing a worrying increase in the number of new coronavirus infections, and authorities once again call for responsibility. PM Ludovic Orban asked public institutions to run inspections and check whether protection rules are complied with.
Whereas in previous weeks as many as 200-300 new cases were reported every day, this week a new peak has been reached, with over 450, the highest since the state of alert was introduced 2 months ago.
The total number of cases in Romania so far is over 25,000, with the death toll standing at nearly 1,600. A growing number of hospitals are announcing they are unable to receive further patients. To free them, the authorities have decided that coronavirus patients with mild or no symptoms will only be hospitalized for 10 days, followed by a 14-day home isolation period under medical supervision.
Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday that the self-isolation, quarantine and hospitalization of COVID-19 patients cannot be imposed under a minister order. According to the judges, this would be an infringement of individual rights and freedoms, and restrictions of this kind must be regulated by law.
This Constitutional Court ruling was prompted by an Ombudsman notification regarding the 2006 law on public healthcare reform and the Government emergency order introducing measures to prevent and contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adrian Ionel, the general manager of Unifarm, the Romanian state-owned company that handles the procurement of medical equipment for hospitals, is under court supervision ordered by anti-corruption prosecutors. He is investigated for taking bribes in exchange for assigning a procurement contract for surgical masks and protective coveralls. Prosecutors have also found that Adrian Ionel has illegally held this position since 2016. The Unifarm director denies the accusations.
COVID 19 infections among Romanians working in Germany
Around 1,000 Romanian employees of the biggest meat processing plant in Germany have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to data released on Thursday by the Romanian Foreign Ministry. According to the ministry, all the quarantined individuals receive food and hygiene products, and have a dedicated telephone line with information available in Romanian as well.
In an interview to Radio Romania, the Ambassador of Romania to Berlin, Emil Hurezeanu, explained that many issues were settled in recent months thanks to the close cooperation between German authorities and the Government of Romania, which helped improve the situation of the Romanian nationals who work in that country.
According to the Romanian diplomat, Germany will amend its legislation on the meat processing industry, where the number of inspections will be increased, along with the fines against the employers who breach employment contracts. More importantly, subcontractors will no longer be permitted, after repeated instances of subcontractors setting abusive working and housing conditions for the workers they were recruiting in Romania.
Floods and Climate Change
Extreme weather wreaks havoc on Romania where the latest flooding has caused casualties and significant material damage. Meteorologists and hydrologists have issued yellow, orange and even red alerts for heavy downpours and flooding in various Romanian regions.
Three quarters of the Romanian counties have been affected by flooding and have seen the intervention of special emergency units, who pumped out water from households and basements. Several hundred people have been evacuated and temporarily relocated by the authorities.
According to Romanian president Klaus Iohannis, the month of June has been the rainiest in the past 60 years and that has caused severe flooding and numerous issues in a very short period of time. He has pointed out to the fact that Romania has often been affected by devastating flooding and authorities in this country must be better prepared to handle suchlike phenomena.
President Iohannis believes that the Romanians outlook on flooding must change and that the conservation of forests and reforestation campaigns are effective solutions for fighting flooding with beneficial effects for both the environment and for the protection of river banks.
The IMF forecast on the Romanian economy
The International Monetary Fund has significantly reviewed down its world’s economic growth forecast this year as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been stronger than anticipated, the institution’s latest report has shown.
Whereas the IMF April forecast stood at a 3% decline, now the institution expects a shrinking of 4.9% this year. The IMF believes Romania’s economy will shrink by 5% this year and will recover in 2121 when a 3.9% growth is expected.
The IMF has also forecast a 10.1% unemployment rate in 2020 from only 3.9% last year. In 2021 unemployment in Romania is expected to reach 6%.
Romania’s high school graduates have taken the baccalaureate exam in special conditions
High school graduates in Romania have this week taken their graduation exam in special conditions. Students had their temperature taken by medical personnel before being admitted to classrooms.
Because of the Covid pandemic, which led to the suspension of courses, the exam curricula this year didn’t include the subjects on the second semester of the 12th grade. Oral exams have been eliminated and students in isolation or who have been confirmed infected will be allowed to take the exam in a different session due to commence on July 6th.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu, Daniel Bilt)