Fresh News

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Press briefing by Prime Minister Florin Cîțu at the end of the Cabinet meeting of October 14

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Florin Cîțu: Good afternoon! In today's Government meeting, we supplemented the budget of the Ministry of Health with 10 million lei, money that will be used to purchase the DTPA vaccine for 14-year-old children and pregnant women, provided in the national vaccination schedule for the implementation of the National Vaccination Program. These funds are needed to unblock and complete the 71,000-dose vaccine contract for which the Ministry of Health has a framework agreement.

In today’s Cabinet meeting, regarding hospitals, as we know very well that we need hospitals and they should be built. We approved a Memorandum on the negotiation of the financing contract between Romania and European Investment Bank, its signing and granting the power of attorney to the Minister of Finance. The financing contract amounts to 305 million euros and aims at supporting the investment objective Regional Emergency Hospital Cluj.

As regards healthcare, we asked for a report on what happened during September 8- October 12, at the Ministry of Health, on the measures that have been taken to fight the pandemic. First and foremost, the ICU beds have been supplemented by 1000, therefore, we supplemented the number of beds by 1,000. Through Government Decision 1017 of September 29, 2021, the budget of the Health Ministry has been supplemented by 386 million lei for the purchase of Remdesivir and to better the unfolding of priority actions necessary for the care and treatment of ICU critical patients, the amount of 70 million lei.

Moreover, activities that are now ongoing: earmarking of the 5,206 ampoules of neutralizing monoclonal antibodies which the Italian state donated to Romania; we kicked off the procedures for signing the contract for the supply of 10,000 monoclonal antibody treatments, based on the framework agreement signed by the European Commission, and signing of a new contract for the supply of 139,200 Remdesivir vials.

 In early September, all outstanding payments for the period May-August were paid to vaccination doctors from vaccination centres. So, in September, we paid for three months all the outstanding payments in the amount of 91.4 million lei, for the May-August period,  91.4 million lei and 24.5 million lei for September. To ensure the testing process, the Ministry of Health earmarked to DSP a number of 509,000 rapid antigen tests, for 280,000 schools, 144,900 residential centres and 85,000 pharmacies. The free flu vaccination campaign has been unblocked - you know very well, and of course, we have implemented the two measures to change the vaccination campaign against COVID-19, the Minister of Health’s order on granting food allowance in the form of meal vouchers to people who are vaccinated and, of course, the Vaccination Lottery. These are some of the measures we have taken during this period to ensure that in the health system we fight with all resources, we put all resources against the pandemic; to support medical staff in overcoming the difficulties created by the pandemic and to identify solutions to ensure access of chronic patients to health services, ANMCS resumed support visits and methodological guidance in hospitals, so we resumed these visits to hospitals.

A less pleasant thing, but you should know it. In July, the European Commission launched a funding line for Member States to ensure access to COVID green certificates under the ESI funding instrument. Applications for funding have been requested to the Member States concerned. The Ministry of Health submitted an application for obtaining funds on July 2, which was analyzed and approved by the European Commission, in the amount of 4.7 million euros to ensure the defrayal of a large number of 88,350 PCR tests and 89,760 tests rapid antigen. The defrayal, reimbursement of tests can be done only in conjunction with the release of green certificates for applicants for the period June-October 2021. Regarding the signing of the financing contract, we mention the following: it was sent for internal approval in the first half of August, the Legal Department discussed many times the need to urgently sign it with the Minister of that time, but the contract was returned to the Legal Department, without being approved, on September 7. Therefore, this money was lost because the Minister of that time did not approve it.

Alongside four members of the Cabinet, Mr Kelemen Hunor, Mr Cseke Attila and Mr Lucian Bode, I signed a draft law to be submitted to the Romanian Parliament. Briefly, public or private healthcare employees who are not vaccinated, or did not go through the disease, will have to be tested at their own expense. And also those working for the IGSU and in aviation. We have submitted this draft law to the Romanian Parliament today. This was Minister Bode’s proposal. This draft law has been submitted today. If it was not for the motion of censure by which the Government was dismissed last week, the draft law would have been approved by the Cabinet and forwarded to Parliament as a matter of urgency.

Last but not least, I think you have all seen information about the development of prices, worrisome information, the dynamics of prices exceeded the estimates of the National Bank, and here, of course, the monetary policy in Romania is independent, the decisions belong of course to the National Bank, but I would like to mention one thing: I think a macro stability committee is needed, Mr Governor will decide when he establishes it. If this inflation is just temporary, if we see it as a temporary event, transitory, things are all right, and we will follow what the Central Bank estimates. I hope only we did not miss a measure in the past, and now, we should not hurry to reduce prices through restrictive monetary policy measures, which could jeopardize economic growth, but I am sure that the National Bank takes the best measures in order to make sure that inflation will decrease in the next period, and will return to a downward trend, as indicated by the Central Bank's estimates.

This was the information from the Cabinet meeting and the newest information we have.

Reporter: Good afternoon! Mr. Prime Minister, we have seen the number of COVID-19 cases increasing, the number of patients admitted to intensive care units is much higher, and today, the incidence of cases in Bucharest exceeded 15.42 cases per 1000 inhabitants. In this context, I have seen an epidemiologist coming with the recommendation to quarantine Bucharest and Ilfov county for the next 14 days. Do you take such a measure into account?

Florin Cîțu: No, at the current moment, not, we are not taking this measure. You saw that last year, as well, there had been this discussion about quarantining Bucharest and Ilfov, and it didn’t work, nonetheless we are considering other measures designed to prevent the spreading of the virus. One thing we discussed with Mr Health Minister was that of mandating or requiring the green certificate for all activities we have in Romania, for any activity we get in contact with other people, to have this green certificate for economic activities. If we still want to have an open economy, I believe it is a measure that would help a lot. We haven’t discussed yet about reducing the open hours during the weekend, this hasn’t been discussed, but we are looking at all the measures. I think that using the green certificate for any economic activity is an important step and we are considering this.

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