A roundup of domestic and international news.
NATO - Chief of the Romanian Armed Forces General Staff, Lieutenant General Daniel Petrescu, has had two telephone conversations in the past two days with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Army, General Mark A. Milley, and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Tod D. Wolters, according to a communiqué of the Romanian Defense Ministry on Saturday. Talks focused on allied support in strengthening defense capabilities, the planning and unfolding of the STEADFAST DEFENDER 21 exercise and Romania’s contribution to NATO missions. The Romanian official emphasized the fact that his country’s NATO membership and the strategic partnership with the US are pillars of Romania’s national defense strategy.
PRINCE PHILIP - The United Kingdom is in mourning after the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on Friday. The British Navy on Saturday staged ceremonies in a number of cities in memory of Prince Philip, who served as navy officer during WW2. In London, flowers and notes have been laid by mourners at the gate of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Palace, paying tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh. In line with coronavirus restrictions, authorities reminded those gathered to adhere to social distancing guidelines. On the website of the Royal Family, members of the public are asked to consider making a donation to a charity instead of leaving floral tributes in memory of the duke. An online book of condolence is also available for the public to post their personal tributes. Union flags were half-masted at all royal residences and British government building. Upon his wish, Prince Philip will not lie in state. Instead he will lie at rest in Windsor Castle. According to the BBC, the College of Arms, which helps to organise state occasions, said the plans for the duke's funeral were "in line with custom and with His Royal Highness's wishes". Monarchs, heads of state and prime ministers across the world have sent heartfelt tributes following the death of Prince Philip, praising his exceptional public service. Princess Margareta, Custodian of the Crown of Romania, the goddaughter and niece of Prince Philip, said Queen Elisabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh remain as spiritual models and fundamental sources of inspiration for today’s generation. In his turn, President Klaus Iohannis said in his message that Romania stands with the Royal Family and the British people in this time of sorrow and that he is confident that history will honor Prince Philip’s contribution.
PROTEST – Fresh protests were held on Saturday in the centre of the capital Bucharest against the restrictions imposed by the authorities in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Participants called on Government to step down, asked for the elimination of all restrictions, such as compulsory mask wearing, quarantine and compulsory sanitary policies, and their replacement with new policies that respect individual freedom. Authorities, however, have reminded that these measures are necessary to limit the quick spread of the novel coronavirus. Protests against restrictive measures were held in Bucharest and other Romanian cities last week, almost on a daily basis.
FILM –This year’s edition of the British Academy Film Awards is held this weekend. According to the organisers, Saturday’s opening focuses on the creative process behind productions. The most important awards will be announced on Sunday. The production ˮcolectivˮ, directed by the Romanian Alexandru Nanau, is nominated for best documentary. The film tells the story of the first year after a fire at the Colectiv club in Bucharest that killed 64 people.
CORONAVIRUS – Romania exceeded, on Saturday, 1 million cases of coronavirus, after more than 4,300 new infections have been reported. 1,492 patients are in intensive care. Many patients are being treated in emergency rooms instead of ICUs, given that the latter are already packed and an increasing number of hospitals can no longer take in patients. Another 139 deaths from Covid-related conditions have been reported, bringing the death toll to over 25,000 since the start of the pandemic. On Thursday, the government extended the state of alert in Romania by a further 30 days but announced restrictions will be eased for the upcoming Orthodox Easter so that people can attend the Easter service in church. Some restrictions are also eased for Muslims during the Ramadan. So far, over 2.2 million people have been given at least one shot of the Covid vaccine in Romania.
ASTRA-ZENECA - France has decided to offer an alternative vaccin to people aged below 60 who got the first shot of the Astra Zeneca vaccine. Spain intends to do the same thing, although the WHO announced that, in the absence of clear data, it cannot recommend the change of vaccin between the two doses. Italy goes ahead with the Astra Zeneca vaccination schedule, but, just like a number of other countries, restricted its use for people aged below 60, according to radio Romania’s correspondent to Rome. A link between AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine and rare blood clots is considered plausible but is not confirmed, said the World Health Organisation after the European Medicines Agency on Wednesday said it found a potential link between the Covid vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and rare blood clots in adults who received this jab. The Agency emphasized, however, that the benefits outweigh the risks. Astra Zeneca has recently announced delays for half of its vaccine supplies due to be distributed to the EU this week. (EE)