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Saturday, 04 April

Statements by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban after the working meeting held at the Ministry of Internal Affairs

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Ludovic Orban: We assessed the number of people entering the country and our quarantine capacity, and given the participation of the Health Minister, we established the measures for preparing the hospitals that are about to admit patients infected with COVID and a set of other important elements linked to…
Reporter: An alarming situation is in Ialomița County, in Țăndărei, where the Army was also sent. There could be an outbreak of infection there, and in the Barbulești commune. So what decisions did you make?
Ludovic Orban: Yes, very many persons came from countries that had entered the red zone and special measures will be taken at least for Țăndărei.
Reporter: What sort of measures?
Ludovic Orban: They will be presented by the Internal Affairs Ministry today.
Reporter: On the other hand, very many Romanian doctors, medical personnel are among the infected. In this regard…
Ludovic Orban: You know very well that I made the decision to establish quarantine spaces for doctors between shifts, Ministries and local authorities with hospitals under their authority are obliged to assure accommodation places for the medical personnel other than their place of domicile. Whenever there is a suspicion, the doctors who had been in contact with the medical personnel who tested positive, will be tested in their place, they enter self-isolation, and we try to limit the number of cases in hospitals. It is very important for all established protocols to be observed, the triage to be done in case of any patient suspected of infection and with protective equipment. Basically, the rules must be observed.
Reporter: Mr. Prime Minister, I have two questions: one pertaining to that sum of 500 euros announced by the President for doctors, medical personnel.
Ludovic Orban: It is already included in the draft Emergency Ordinance initiated by the Ministry of European Funds. 
Reporter: The sum will amount to 500 euros?
Ludovic Orban: Yes, it will be about that.
Reporter: When, on Monday?
Ludovic Orban: A Cabinet meeting is scheduled for Monday and we will take several measures to be financed from European funds.
Reporter: And what other healthcare procurements are being made during this period because those ventilators are needed.
Ludovic Orban: Currently, there are contracts signed for 400 ventilators. Unfortunately, these contracts do not observe the delivery schedule as the governments of the countries from which we had to buy these ventilators, issued decisions banning their export. We are looking for solutions. We are trying to start manufacturing ventilators, there is an American company that made available to manufacturers from Romania including the project, all components and the patent implicitly, and we can produce a number of ventilators necessary for manufacture. We will also resort to a solution that I discussed with the Secretary of State Raed Arafat and the Health Minister regarding the repair of the ventilators that do not work at present, so that a number of 80-100 additional ventilators can become operational. The Defence Ministry has also been working on a project of a ventilator that has been continuously improved, and it can enter testing as soon as possible.
Reporter: /.../
Ludovic Orban: The project already exists, production capacities should be identified for all its components. The ventilators and all the other devices being used are very sensitive, the patients’ lives depend on them, and their many components should be manufactured in the best possible conditions. 
Reporter: Do we have to expect extra measures around Easter as there is an estimate of 250,000 Romanians coming from abroad?
Ludovic Orban: I want to send a very clear message: all those who will be coming home for Easter starting tomorrow will not be spending their Easter under normal conditions, but they will be placed under quarantine. The number of countries with more than 10,000 confirmed cases has increased a lot and there are very many under a red code at this point. Almost all countries Romanians are coming from, the countries where they work and live, are under a red code, and the decision that we have just taken is to place them in institutionalized quarantine centers.
Reporter: The current coercive measures, the fines are sufficient? Because there are many who do not observe these conditions.
Ludovic Orban: As far as the activity of quarantine centers is concerned, there have been very few attempts to infringe the rules there. We have almost 13,000 Romanians in quarantine centers and I appreciate their compliance with the quarantine coexistence rules and all the social distancing rules that are imposed in these quarantine centers. We have to admit that we are facing problems in certain localities, such as Țandarei, for example, where it is very difficult to persuade some citizens who returned to Romania, to observe the rules of the isolation at home. Despite increasing the number of the Gendarmerie, and requesting the support of the Army that contributed with important personnel, there are nevertheless cases of non-compliance with the conditions of isolation. Obviously, we appeal to all the decisions we have made so far. Those who do not comply with the isolation rules are quarantined and quarantined at their own cost, ie they will have to pay the cost of 14-day accommodation in quarantine. Also, those who do not comply with the quarantine will be subject to criminal investigation and their quarantine period will be extended by another 14 days. I repeat, there have been very few such cases. The police, the gendarmerie, the army are involved with all the forces to ensure the observance of these regulations, and to sanction those who do not comply with these rules imposed for the health of the people and to prevent the spread of the infection.
Reporter: Are you considering the quarantine of these areas, Deva and Arad especially since many Romanians will come through Nădlac in the next period? I refer to these areas as the Health Minister announced hotspots of coronavirus infection. 
Ludovic Orban: Therefore, we follow certain criteria based on which we can make a decision. There is a system of evaluation of the situation in each locality or county. If these criteria lead to a certain score, the decision is made. It is not the case for the time being. This talk has perhaps led to the debate on the need of an extra check at Arad crossing point as most Romanians enter the country through Nadlac, and also it led to the idea that perhaps a quarantine imposed on Arad County could give us additional possibility to check all entrances: such a decision has not been made yet. I repeat that we make decisions based on data, analyses, objective analyses and it is not this case for the time being.
Reporter: And another important topic concerns the state sector personnel incomes: will they enter into technical unemployment, will they receive less money, what will be their situation?
Ludovic Orban: No decision has been made at this time. Of course we have been carrying out an activity evaluation in each area and when it comes to proposing something, we will let you know.
Reporter: If you have done a cost assessment so far, how much cost the measures taken by Romania from February to now, how much have the government, the ministries, spent on implementing the measures taken?
Ludovic Orban: For the time being, we have supplemented the health budget from the Reserve Fund, we have provided the ONAC with the necessary money for the procurements related to the strategic stocks; also, we supplemented the budget of the Ministry of Health in order to be able to supply the Public Health Directorates with the money needed for the expenses in the quarantine centers, the money was allocated for investments in the hospitals subordinated to the Ministry of Health. It is still difficult to evaluate, but we allocate money as a priority, whenever needed, to fight coronavirus.
Reporter: Are we expecting a budget rectification?
Ludovic Orban: There will be a budget rectification, we will have a first analysis of the draft budget rectification at the meeting on Monday. At present, the main credit authorizing officers define their needs in the coming period and it is possible, during the next week, to adopt the budget rectification.
Reporter: If you thought about the doctors or the medical staff who resigned, you said you were thinking about what should be done, what decision could you make?
Ludovic Orban: I am sorry for such decisions, that in such difficult times when Romanian citizens need doctors, nurses, there are healthcare professionals that can make such decisions. We will supplement the medical personnel, in any hospital unit, each time when necessary. In addition, there are cases of hospitals where the medical personnel filed their resignation, in which the procedure of selecting the necessary staff in each hospital started. Hospitals cannot operate without the necessary medical personnel, and in special situations, such as the situation in Suceava hospital, you could see that the management was taken over by a team from the Military Hospital, and the hospital team was completed with military doctors. I thank very much the Defence Ministry’s personnel that promptly answer any sort of request, both regarding the army’s involvement in all missions and the special support granted to the healthcare system.
Reporter: Are you considering a similar measure of taking over the hospitals of Deva and Arad where very many …
Ludovic Orban: We have encountered no management problems at present, the current management team acts, makes decisions, and hospitals are functioning. If necessary we will appeal to any type of decision, so as to ensure the normal functioning of the hospitals.
Reporter: Do you consider purchasing medical equipment to battle coronavirus, without taking into account public procurement legislation?
Ludovic Orban: According to the decree establishing the state of emergency, the Ministry of Health, the public health departments, hospitals, hospital management can use simplified procurement procedures. The procedure, i.e. negotiation without prior publication of the announcement from ...
Reporter: Is there any likelihood that we request other countries’ help, namely to send us doctors when Romania reaches the peak of the epidemic?
Ludovic Orban: Our current assessment shows we have enough doctors, nurses, medical professionals, and we are prepared in terms of the evolution of the epidemic. We do not need this at present, you ask me some questions that are not the case, for the moment we have just put in operation the second line of defense, so to speak, to treat patients with COVID - these are over 35 of hospitals starting to admit patients. They are about to be well -prepared, equipped so that we have full treatment capacity. Also, you know very well that this treatment methodology established this possibility of treatment either in separate spaces, such as quarantine spaces, mild, asymptomatic cases may not be necessarily treated in the hospital, but they can be treated in other locations as well. Of course, there is the methodological possibility of treatment at home, which has been established. For the time being, we are trying to avoid treatment at home, to prevent families and those close from the possibility of infection.
Reporter: What was the Minister of Health’s explanation for the surge practically, in the number of new cases detected during yesterday and if we enter scenario 5?
Ludovic Orban: It's not about the surge...
Reporter: The number doubled in one day. 445 new cases...
Ludovic Orban: This is not a surge, it is a significant increase in the number of cases. We are watching the evolution very carefully and, clearly, we take all the necessary measures, depending on the number of cases that occur.
Reporter: The Minister of Health said yesterday that there were several, because more tests were done.
Ludovic Orban: We told you that we have constantly increased our testing capacity. As of early next week we will exceed 3,000 people tested daily. The testing capacity has developed according to the testing need. There is an established protocol, which is also a recommendation of the European Commission on diagnostic priorities. We adhere to this protocol and ensure the diagnosis of the persons when necessary, constantly increasing the testing capacity.
Reporter: As regards the treatment, are there enough stocks for hospitals, patients’ treatment at this moment /.../?
Ludovic Orban: In the analysis we carried out, we also discussed this topic together with the Minister of Health. In addition to the current stocks, we have planned important inputs, especially of Kaletra and Plaquenil, which are being used in the treatment. We are looking for purchases and donations in order to ensure the treatment of patients who will be infected or who have been infected.
Reporter: Where do these donations come from? I mean the medicines
Ludovic Orban: From several producing countries.
Reporter: Are they donor countries or individuals?
Ludovic Orban: They are either purchases or donations. Fortunately, we are also the beneficiaries of donations, I am glad about it.
Reporter: Have you discussed the likelihood for Romanian manufacturers to produce these pills?
Ludovic Orban: Here it is about the existence of active substances for these medicines production. To the extent that Romanian producers will be able to produce them, they shall have our support. But for the time being, the analysis of deliveries in the near future of these medicines that are needed in the treatment, revealed that we will have enough stocks to ensure the treatment of the patients, regardless of the scenario. Thank you. 

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