Western Romania runs out of free respirators as COVID-19 crisis intensifies

If someone wants a free respirator in Western Romania, another person must die to free up space

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Dénes Albert

Hungary’s eastern neighbor, Romania has reached a stage in coronavirus infections all countries and doctors dread most. In the country’s second largest city outside the capital, Temesvár in the west, all respirators currently have a patient, news portal Transindex reports.

“Two nights ago, we encountered a terrible situation. A female patient arrived who needed to be put in intensive care, but there were no spaces available,” Dr. Virgil Musta, chief infectologist at Temesvár’s hospital for infectious diseases, told national news agency Mediafax. “We are not there yet, but the thought itself terrifies me. I am overwhelmed that the moment may come when we [doctors] will have to choose who lives and who dies.”

Musta’s hospital serves as the main coronavirus treatment facility both in the city and in the county of 760,000 inhabitants, and is it becomes overrun with patients, there are worries that the whole country’s hospital system could soon reach full capacity.

In a sense, the patient mentioned by Musta was lucky. Another intensive care patient died soon after her arrival, freeing up a bed for her. Musta said that the intensive care beds in both his hospital and the other designated hospital in the city for coronavirus treatments are full and the rest of the hospitals serving as backup only had a few free beds left.

According to the latest official data, the number of new cases in Romania has hovered around 4,000 per day in the past week, with the record number of 4,026 registered on Oct. 16. The weekly average is now more than ten times higher than during the first wave in April.


The total number of infections in Romania stands at 180,388 cases, compared with 46,962 in Hungary, whose population is roughly half that of Romania. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban announced on Sunday that face masks will be compulsory in the capital of Bucharest and all schools have been ordered to switch to online classes after the infection rate exceeded the threshold of three cases per 1,000 people.

If this were not enough, the National Center for Cybersecurity Response warned that hospitals in the country — some of whom have software dating back to 2003 — have increasingly become the target of cyberattacks. In one such case, in the western Romanian city of Nagyvárad (Oradea), hackers took control of the IT systems of the city’s Gavril Courteau hospital and demanded a ransom to release it.

Title image: Virgil Musta, chief infectologist at Temesvár’s hospital for infectious diseases.


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