Romania affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
As of Monday, when the threshold of 2,000 cases of contamination was exceeded, Romania has entered stage 4 of the strategy meant to fight the coronavirus crisis. The number of contaminations and deaths continues to grow and the authorities believe that the pandemic in Romania will peak somewhere at the end of April. Many deplore the fact that there are not sufficient tests for the population.
According to the Strategic Communication Group in Bucharest, almost 28,500 tests had been processed countrywide by April 2. Also, the Romanian hospitals don’t seem to be properly equipped to be able to face a surge in the number of patients. And the situation in Suceava (northeast) is proof thereof! On Monday evening it was announced that about one third of the total number of contaminations and deaths reported across Romania was registered in Suceava alone. Moreover, of all the medical staff infected across Romania, almost two thirds, that is around 200, are from the Suceava county hospital.
Consequently, the central authorities decided early this week to quarantine the entire city alongside 8 surrounding communes. Subsequently, a military doctor was placed at the helm of the Suceava hospital given that the former interim manager resigned due to stress, the lack of personnel, medical equipment and products.
The Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has called on the medical staff to return to work: “The medical staff needs to be urgently tested so that they can return to work as soon as they have recovered. They need one more testing device that will be made available to them as soon as possible. They now have medicines, protection equipment, and procedures are also in place. I am addressing especially the physicians and medical staff from the Suceava hospital: please, go back to work, take care of the sick, and observe the procedures! We are counting on you!”
He also called on the government to identify funds to be channeled as bonuses to the salary of the medical staff that will work with patients infected with COVID-19. In Romania, the coronavirus pandemic has made several doctors and nurses to resign for fear they might get infected. Also some of the medical staff resigned to protest against the lack of protection equipment.
Operation ‘Equipping hospitals’ in full swing
The Romanian authorities have taken new measures to help those who are on the front line of the fight against the new coronavirus. According to the head of the Department for Emergency Situations Raed Arafat, the specialized medical staff, the auxiliary sanitary staff and other categories of sanitary staff are not allowed to refuse temporary assignment to a certain medical unit during the state of emergency, they are obliged to go wherever they are asked to, even in public hospitals with staff shortage from other counties of Romania. Raed Arafat also announced that hospitals are not allowed to refuse hospitalization of patients on the grounds that they are or are not confirmed with coronavirus infection. Consequently, the medical staff is obliged to wear protection equipment at all times.
In another development, a C-17 Globemaster III NATO aircraft has brought to Bucharest from South Korea a second tranche of 100 thousand hazmat suits. A C-27J Spartan aircraft of the Romanian Air Forces has brought from Turkey 100 thousand face masks of the FFP2 and FFP3 types. Also the Romanian Army has set up near Bucharest a ROL 2-type field hospital which is now operational. In the city port of Constanta (southeast) works are under way to build a modular isolation and treatment hospital, which will operate as an extension of the Infectious Diseases Section of the Military Hospital from Constanta. Also, Romania saw the start of the production of face masks, with some 15 million masks expected to be produced monthly.
New decisions on entering Romania
Based on military decree no. 5, Romania has extended the suspension of flights to and from Spain and Italy, the European countries most affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Also, the list of ‘red zones’ for which quarantine is required was updated on Thursday, to include 12 countries: Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Iran, Great Britain, the Netherlands, the US and Turkey. Thus the Romanian citizens coming from these countries will be quarantined in specialized institutions for 14 days. The people coming from abroad will also have to self isolate for 14 days. The decision took effect on April 3, at midnight, Romania’s time. At the same time, 20 times higher fines were enforced for those people who violate the state of emergency. Fines for individuals reach up to 4 thousand Euros while for companies up to almost 15 thousand Euros.
Alarming figures from the Labor Ministry
Data provided by the Labor Ministry on April 2 shows that the number of Romanians left without a job stands at almost 174 thousand as their contracts were terminated. More than 860 thousand people are in technical unemployment. And the figures are alarmingly growing. Most of the people who lost their jobs were working in such fields as retail and wholesale trade, car and motorcycle repair, hotels, restaurants and constructions. Consequently the Romanian Government and Parliament are trying to work out solutions to support the population as well as the economic sectors affected by the crisis. (translation by L. Simion)