Fresh News

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Prime Minister Ludovic Orban attends the videoconference with prefects and representatives of institutions with responsibilities in the epidemic management, at the headquarters of the Ministry of Internal Affairs

Statements by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban after attending the videoconference with prefects and representatives of institutions with responsibilities in the epidemic management, at the headquarters of the Ministry of Internal Affairs


Ludovic Orban: Good evening. We held a videoconference with the prefects and the County Committees for Emergency Situations. The topic of this videoconference was the intensification of the actions of the authorities in the fight against spreading the infection with coronavirus. There is a growing trend in the number of positive cases. For this reason, I requested  the County Committees for Emergency Situations a more serious involvement in implementing the legal measures adopted by authorities also intensified control actions, and last but not least, intensified communication with citizens for the observance of the healthcare protection measures. In this respect, I asked them to pursue several action directions. First of all, all healthcare protection measures should be observed in schools: from disinfection, mask –wearing to physical distancing. Alike, in schools and universities, once with the start of the academic year tomorrow, the decisions to be made at the level of the County Committees for Emergency Situations should strictly consider legal regulations, the Government Decision on the state of alert, and the Joint Order of the National Education Minister and the Health Minister, not the will of school management. What law provides, that should be enforced. Also, from the analyses carried out by INSP and specialists with the Health Ministry and the Department for Emergency Situations, one can clearly see that the highest risk of infection was within events, weddings, baptism parties, and other types of events where the healthcare protection rules have not been observed, as well as the rules regarding the number of attendees, and other rules which should have been observed. The second risk factor was represented by the means of transport, both urban transport, and transport within counties or between counties, the transport from home industrial platforms to the job and from job place to home.

I requested intensified controls regarding the compliance with the rules, also the adoption of very clear decisions. Where legislation requires, restriction decisions should be introduced, in order to prevent the virus from spreading. I also requested the County Committees for Emergency Situations to take decisions to quarantine localities or areas.

As regards public communication, I requested the prefects, immediately after the investiture of the newly elected mayors, to hold meetings in each county with mayors, and to ask them to get actively involved in ensuring the observance of the healthcare protection measures both through public communication, and involvement of structures under the authority of town halls in the supervision of compliance with the healthcare norms. Currently, mayors are elected, they are elected for a 4–year tenure, they have full authority, and we need the collaboration of new mayors and local authorities, in reducing the number of positive cases and ensuring compliance with healthcare protection measures.

I discussed with the colleagues, we have not updated the situation per countries, given that a debate took place at the European level, we waited for a decision at the European level on the unitary measures regarding travels inside the EU, between countries. No decision has been made yet. For this reason, we will decide on Monday within the National Committee for Emergency Situations, to reintroduce restrictions for the countries with a higher number of positive cases than Romania, over the last 14 days. These restrictions will be adjusted. For those coming to Romania and staying here for maximum 3 days, the quarantine will not be compulsory, if they present a negative COVID test, done 48 hours before entering the country. If they want to stay for more than three days, they have to choose between 14 –day quarantine, or a test on the fifth day and the day when they receive a negative test, they can end their quarantine.

Reporter: Mr Prime Minister, as far as we know, the infection rate at present in Bucharest is 1.5 cases per 1000 inhabitants.

Ludovic Orban: It is not. It is 1.32 per 2.2 million inhabitants.

Reporter: Population, according to INS, on January 1, 2020, is 1.8 million, that is the official data, according to INS.

Ludovic Orban: It is not the INS that establishes the population.

Reporter: Do you consider closing restaurants at this moment in Bucharest?

Ludovic Orban: We discussed this topic and you know very clearly that in accordance with the regulation in the Government Decision on the state of alert, in the localities with infection rate higher than 1.5, the county committees or the municipal committee for emergency situations take this decision –and decisions have been taken in some localities in this respect.

Reporter: In this situation, considering the evolution of positive cases, in Bucharest too, where we registered a record number even today is it possible to witness an increase over the next period, an escalation in the number of cases and the restaurants be closed?

Ludovic Orban: We will enforce the legal regulations.

Reporter: Do you have any evaluation over the period ahead /.../?

Ludovic Orban: We surely have evaluations.  It is very clear that starting September 1, we took measures to return to normality and very many activities were resumed, the activity in restaurants, in closed spaces, the cultural activity in theaters, cinemas. Also, the schools started on September 14. The academic year begins on October 1. Social interaction or as they say, the level of social distancing has decreased and for this reason, the risk of being infected has increased and the only serious, clear, precise solution to reduce the risk of infection is citizens’ compliance with health protection rules, compliance of institutions, companies, event organizers with these rules that we have established. For this reason, I want to send a very clear message: we will apply the law and we will apply it firmly, confidently, respectfully to citizens, companies, institutions, but we will apply the law because the degree of compliance is necessary to increase to reduce the risk of spread of the virus.

Reporter: Prime Minister, in a school class, when a positive student is found, his other classmates are sent home and are not tested unless they show symptoms, although we know that the little ones are mostly asymptomatic. Why you do not change this protocol so that everyone in the class can be tested?

Ludovic Orban: You know very well that this is the protocol that is established by the Ministry of Health, the National Institute of Public Health and the Anti-COVID Commission. I am not a specialist in this field. I will discuss this topic again, because you asked me this question, with health specialists.

Reporter: Risk of infecting adults at home.

Ludovic Orban: That is the rule. However, when a child is infected in a class, his classmates enter home quarantine.

Reporter: So what should a family do?

Ludovic Orban: For 14 days, classes are suspended in the classroom where a child who is infected, an infected student and colleagues have a quarantine regime exactly as it happens with people who are considered contact persons of a patient who tested positive.

Reporter: Specifically, in a two-room apartment, where parents are living with a child, and the child comes from a class where a mate tested positive, what should the parents do with the child who was sent home, knowing that he has a classmate who tested positive?

Ludovic Orban: To protect themselves.

Reporter: How?

Ludovic Orban: To protect themselves from physical contact, not to come into contact with the child.

Reporter: Do you have an assessment for the first two weeks since school started? Are you pleased with the way things developed, given the number of cases in schools?

Ludovic Orban: Over the first two weeks, it is difficult to have an assessment of the spread due to the school and I send this message once again, because I know what is happening in schools. The child is exposed to the lowest risk of infection in school, in the classroom, under the supervision of the teacher. The risk for a child, student, adolescent to be infected is higher when he is in his leisure time and when he interacts without the supervision of an adult, a parent or a teacher. An assessment cannot be made yet. Of course, positive cases appeared, but many of the positive cases that appeared are due to contracting the virus, not necessarily from school. As regards the number of cases in schools, despite suspended schools, or children on holiday, the number of cases as percent was around 6.3 percent per schools. As regards our evaluation, there is no significant increase in the number of cases per age category.

Reporter: As the Education Ministry did not manage to purchase the remaining necessary tablets and there are no more companies to bid for the others..

Ludovic Orban: We have made available to local authorities and schools European funds amounting to 150 million euros, of which 100 million euros are for the purchase of tablets. We also allocated an additional amount from the government reserve fund, amounting to 100 million, that is at the disposal of the school inspectorates, in order to create “buffer” stocks, I told them, about tablets, masks, webcams, which are needed for online education. We have increased the number of schools that are connected to optical fiber, by about 3,000 schools. We continue this process of increasing the percentage of schoolchildren and students who can participate in online education. National auctions, conducted through ONAC, have procedures that are required by European law. It is very difficult for us. How do we know that a company that comes to the auction, knowing what the calendar is, says after submitting the offer, and it is the only one that submits the offer, that it does not have the capacity to deliver the tablets according to the calendar that was announced in the tender procedure. Surely, the auctions are resumed at the national level and on the sections, on the regions where we don't have tablets yet, but we have provided two more solutions and I ask the local authorities and the school units to purchase tablets because the tablets are not given for good to families; they are given in a form of loan. It is possible that in one locality, the level of spread of the virus decreases and then the respective tablets can be purchased and distributed to another locality where the number of positive cases increases and online education is necessary.

Reporter: The mayor-elect of Bacau said that online classes cannot be held in his city and they will do their best to bring all children to school. What do you convey to him?

Ludovic Orban: The mayor must obey the law, and observe the Government Decision on the state of alert, and the Joint Order of the Minister of Health and Minister of Education.

Reporter: This is a photo from a PNL campaign event. There are colleagues from a certain you think that events of this kind led to the increase in the number of positive cases?

Ludovic Orban: Yes. As regards the organization of elections, we oversaw that everything that meant campaign activity, the election process on the election day took place in accordance with the established rules and most of it took place. What we could not control, because we could not control humanly, are the parties that were organized after winning the election.

Reporter: It wasn't a party! It was an event ...

Ludovic Orban: In this respect, I recommend to all those who participated in such parties, no matter what political party they are from, to consider themselves as possible infected, because at these parties - some of them I saw on TV and online - the rules were not followed and, if it was a person who was infected, they could transmit the virus to those with whom they interacted. As such, all those who participated in such parties celebrating the victory should consider themselves as possible infected, take care to strictly follow the measures so as not to transmit the virus to others. I wish you a pleasant evening!

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