How Romania became a new hotbed of Covid-19 in the European Union

On Romania as elsewhere, anti-vaccines and anti-masks are impervious to the reality of facts and figures. More than 15,000 Romanians demonstrated on Saturday 2 October in the capital Bucharest to protest against the establishment, the next day, of a health pass to access leisure areas such as cinemas, restaurants, sports halls, etc. Or against the obligation to wear the mask outdoors in the most affected areas of the country.

A vaccination that does not take off

Romania, however, has no choice. She is facing a fourth wave of coronavirus, worse than the previous three. The country beats, day after day, its contamination records (12,590, Saturday) and is at the top of the countries of the European Union, compared to its population of 19 million inhabitants. The same goes for deaths: 166 per day over the last week. In Europe, only Serbia or Montenegro do worse …

And that’s only the beginning. The fourth wave of the pandemic will last at least until mid-November and this will have dramatic consequences , estimates epidemiologist Alexandru Rafil, quoted by the EU Observer site.

How did we get here ? Quite simply by the failure of the vaccination campaign. Despite the availability of doses, only 29% of Romanians received a dose (75% of French). Again Romania is 26e out of 27 in the EU; only Bulgaria is doing worse. Opinion polls show that people do not trust vaccines, nor do they trust those in government.

An underfunded health system

This mistrust, fueled by ten years of nepotism and corruption scandals, predates the emergence of the coronavirus. But it was reinforced by the awkwardness of the government which minimized the risks and reopened the economy in full in the spring. The current Conservative government is also weakened, under the threat, this Tuesday, October 5, of a motion of censure in Parliament.

Due to the lack of sufficient vaccination, the intensive care units are now completely overwhelmed by severe cases. However, it is better to avoid hospital stays, in a country with an underfunded health system. Friday 1is In October, a fire in the intensive care unit in Constanta (south-east) killed seven people, including five sick. They are added to the twenty patients who died in one year, in similar fires in Bucharest and Piatra Neamt (northeast). In April, three Covid-19 patients in intensive care had died in a hospital in the capital, after a failure of the oxygen supply system.

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