COVID-19 Romania reported on Thursday new record-high figures in terms of COVID-19 infections: 4,902 cases out of over 34,000 tests conducted, and 98 deaths. More than 10,354 people are hospitalised, 778 of them in intensive care. Since the start of the epidemic in Romania, the total number of cases has reached 196,004and the death toll stands at 6,163. The Government will amend the Quarantine Act today, in an emergency order, in view of preventing hospital overcrowding. Patients with mild forms of the disease and those without symptoms are to be treated at home, unless they suffer from previous conditions, the health minister Nelu Tătaru explained. The bill has been criticised by family physicians, who say examining patients at home is out of the question because physicians would be at risk.
ELECTIONS Today is the deadline for entering candidacies for the parliamentary elections in Romania, due on December 6. The highest-ranking parties in polls have already submitted their lists of Bucharest candidates to the Municipal Election Bureau. Also today is the last day when Romanian citizens living abroad can register for postal voting. The head of the Permanent Electoral Authority, Constantin-Florin Mituleţu-Buică, says that in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, postal voting is a safe and comfortable option, which does not require traveling, costs and risks. President Klaus Iohannis said the parliamentary election is crucial, in that it represents the only democratic option that would enable a representative parliament to manage the current healthcare crisis.
GOVERNMENT The Government is analysing in today’s Cabinet meeting a draft order allowing parents to take days off from work if they need to stay at home with their children when schools are closed. The bill also stipulates support measures for employers and employees in the context of the ongoing pandemic. PM Ludovic Orban announced that also today the Bucharest Prefect Gheorghe Cojanu would be replaced. Cojanu has been criticised, including by president Klaus Iohannis, for his response when the COVID-19 infection rate in Bucharest moved over the 3 per thousand threshold. His replacement may be Traian Berbeceanu, a former police with the Organised Crime Division and currently the chief of staff of the interior minister Marcel Vela.
MILITARY Two Romanian troops were wounded on Wednesday night in Afghanistan, during a patrol mission. According to the Defence Ministry, they are stable, under medical supervision at the hospital within the Kandahar Air Base. The 2 are members of 191st "Golden Lions" Force Protection Battalion, and were deployed to Afghanistan in August, for a 6-month mission. Romanian troops have been present in Afghanistan since 2003, one year before Romania was admitted into NATO. Nearly 30 Romanian servicemen have been killed in that country.
AFGHANISTAN The situation in Afghanistan is discussed today by the NATO defence ministers as well, alongside the threat posed by China’s and Russia’s space programmes, which may jeopardise NATO satellite communications. The Alliance’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg explained that NATO’s baseline requirements for national resilience have already been updated, including 5G and telecommunications, cyber threats, the security of supply chains, and the consequences of foreign ownership and control. Stoltenberg also voiced concern with Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 defence systems, which cannot be integrated in the NATO system.
FOOTBALL Romania’s football champions CFR Cluj are playing tonight away from home against the Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia, in their first match in the Europa League Group A. Also today, in the same group, the Swiss side Young Boys Berna takes on AS Rome. Kicked out of the Champions League qualifiers into the Europa League, CFR Cluj is the last Romanian club to be playing in this year’s edition of the European football cups. (translated by: A.M. Popescu)