Crisis in Romania: Curfew for non-vaccinated introduced as hospitals overflow, schools close their doors

An elderly lady exits a pharmacy in Bucharest, Romania, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, as the country confirmed a record high of 18,863 new COVID-19 infections and 574 deaths in one day. Romania has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the EU behind Bulgaria — with just 34% adults fully inoculated against COVID-19, compared to the bloc average of 74%, which is stretching the country's ailing health care system to maximum capacity: more than 1,800 coronavirus patients are now in intensive care. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

In Romania, schoolchildren will be sent on a two-week forced break from next week, wearing a protective mask will become mandatory everywhere, and further restrictions on those unvaccinated will be introduced, President Klaus Iohannis announced on Wednesday after a meeting with the authorities responsible for controlling the coronavirus epidemic.

The head of state has not yet detailed how the structure of the school year will change — universities, for example, will not close — but Romanian media reported that the exact restrictions will be clarified in a government decision during the week.

During the day, most places will only be accessible with a “green card” proving protection. The head of state said that restrictions are needed as long as skeptics can be convinced that the pandemic can only be curbed by vaccination.

He pointed out that in Western Europe, where the vaccination rate is 70 to 80 percent, people have returned to their normal lives, and the epidemic is no longer being felt. In contrast, in the “northern” part of the continent, where people have reservations about the vaccine for various reasons, another wave of the epidemic is ravaging the population, and a catastrophic situation has developed in Romania: hundreds of people die and tens of thousands become infected every day.

“Don’t fall for those who lie that the vaccine is dangerous, take the vaccine, because that’s the only way they can protect themselves from severe forms of the disease, and that’s how society as a whole can curb the epidemic.” said Iohannis.

After a break of more than a year, the head of state took the initiative in epidemic-related measures after the number of victims of the disease in Romania in one day exceeded 500 in a single day and just before his intervention, Parliament voted down the country’s proposed new government. Iohannis assessed that the inaction of the authorities in relation to this dramatic situation was alarming.

In Romania, with a population of 19.3 million, the number of infections identified since the start of the epidemic exceeded 1.5 million on Wednesday, and the two-week average of newly diagnosed coronavirus infections per day rose to over 14,000. Over the past week, more than 2,500 coronavirus patients have died in the country, and for the third week in a row, Romania is taking the most victims of the epidemic in the world. In Romania, 35.7 percent of the vaccine population over the age of 12 have been vaccinated so far.

As we reported previously, Hungary announced last week that it is accepting 50 Romanian coronavirus patients for intensive care and patient intake since then has been continuous.

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