Romania's interim PM Ludovic Orban and Cabinet to enter quarantine after coronavirus contact

In a photo taken on Feb 16, 2020, Romania's Prime Minister Ludovic Orban listens during a panel discussion at the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany. PHOTO: REUTERS

BUCHAREST (REUTERS) - Romania's interim prime minister Ludovic Orban said on Friday (March 13) that he and his entire Cabinet would quarantine themselves after coming into contact with a senator who was later confirmed to have the coronavirus.

Liberal Party leader Orban said the senator had attended a meeting of the party's senior figures on Monday, prior to getting tested. He added that he, his 17-member Cabinet and all Liberal senators would quarantine themselves and be tested.

"All government members ... will do their duty and take all the measures to fight coronavirus, regardless of whether they are confirmed to have the virus or not," Orban told reporters.

He urged journalists who had covered his news conferences to seek testing as well.

The quarantine could extend a political crisis that began when Orban's Cabinet was toppled in a no-confidence vote called by the main opposition party last month.

Even before Orban's quarantine announcement, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis was due to hold consultations with political parties later on Friday in the latest attempt to install a new government.

With concerns growing about the spread of the new coronavirus, the presidency said Iohannis would now hold consultations with parties via teleconference.

On Thursday, Iohannis said he aimed to designate a new prime minister - widely expected to be Orban - who would have to be approved by a parliamentary vote next week. If successful, the premier would appoint a cabinet with full powers to fight the virus.

Orban has held meetings with leaders of other political parties this week, as well as with Iohannis and other officials including the central bank governor.

Romania has reported 70 cases of the coronavirus but no deaths.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.