Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and first measures takenThe first case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Romania was confirmed on February 26, 2020. Initially, most people who tested positive for COVID-19 either came from Italy, or other countries which already had a high number of infections, or had contact with a person who had traveled abroad. By April 2021, the number of infections dropped to approximately 2,000 cases per day, after peaking on November 18, 2020 at 10,269 infections. The Romanian authorities increased the testing capacity from at least 2,000 people per day in the first wave of infections, up to 20,000 tests per day in the second wave. As a consequence, by mid April 2021, over one million cases were confirmed.
One of the first measures undertaken by the Romanian authorities was closing all schools starting with March 11 and prohibiting public events with more than 1,000 participants. Other recent measures included criminal fines and criminal records for people who did not comply with quarantine requirements and postponing flights to and from countries labeled as risk areas. On March 16, 2020, Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis signed a decree which established a state of emergency throughout the country's territory. Since May 17, 2020 the emergency regime has been replaced with a state of alert.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) impact on economy and heath care systemFrom an economic perspective, the Romanian GDP is expected to decrease by 2.1 percent by the end of 2020. The inflation rate is also likely to increase from 3.3 percent to 3.5 percent in 2021. Moreover, by March 15, the Bucharest Stock Exchange registered one of its lowest drops in the last thirteen years. The spread of the coronavirus epidemic caused great disturbances in the financial market, especially in May 2020, when the main macroeconomic indicators recorded their lowest values. At the same time, labor market indicators, and money and credit indicators decreased considerably since the coronavirus outbreak, compared to 2019. In this regard, the Romanian government and the National Bank of Romania are expected to implement additional measures in the following months to support not only the companies and their employees, but also the very high number of people left unemployed because of the coronavirus epidemic.
Furthermore, there is little trust that the Romanian health system is prepared to face the high number of infected people. As a result, because of the lack of medical protection equipment, there were nearly 31 thousand employees within the healthcare system reported to be infected, and more than one thousand patients in critical condition. Despite this, the Romanian population showed great support and respect for the medical staff, the army, and the Ministry of Health.
Elections during the pandemic and vaccination campaignA major event that happened in Romania in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, were the local elections. Initially planned for June 2020, the first wave of coronavirus cases led to the elections being postposed until September 27. However, Romanian citizens were not optimistic that the spread of the virus would get better by fall, and believed that the pandemic would affect the organization of the local elections mostly by benefitting the bigger political parties. In spite of the entire context, Bucharest recorded the highest voting attendance since 2012, with approximately 36.2 of the capital’s inhabitants going to vote.
The vaccination campaign in Romania began on December 27, 2020 when the first people got their fist vaccine against the coronavirus (COVID-19). In this regard, the Romanian Government established that the priority for the vaccine will be given to the medical staff, followed by elderly people with severe medical conditions and educational staff. By April 22, 2021, more than 4.5 million people were vaccinated in the country, which led the Romanian Prime-Minister to affirm that goal was to vaccinated ten million people by August 2021.
For further information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, please visit our dedicated Fact and Figures page.