Monday

29th Nov 2021

Romania reaches historic high in Covid deaths

  • Romania's level of vaccinated adults is 37.2 percent - far below the EU average of 75 percent (Photo: Ivan Radic)
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Romania has recorded this week its highest daily number of Covid-19 deaths since the pandemic started.

With close to 600 dead in just 24 hours, the south-eastern European country has the highest mortality rate in the entire European Union.

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Over the past several weeks, the 20 million strong nation has been losing about 500 of its citizens daily to Covid, making it the worst-hit country in Europe by this new pandemic wave, and amongst the most impacted nations worldwide.

Coronavirus has been killing one Romanian every five minutes, according to reports of the government-run vaccination committee.

For comparison, no recent catastrophes in Romanian history even come close to the almost 50,000 dead due to Covid in the last 18 months.

The tragic fire at the Collective nightclub in 2015 killed 64 people. The number of casualties of the 1989 anti-communist revolution saw 1,166 Romanians die. A deadly 1977 earthquake killed 1,570 people.

Raed Arafat, the head of the country's emergency unit, said a comparison between the current situation in Romania and that in the Italian region of Lombardy is by no means exaggerated, and admitted that the situation is very serious.

Hospital, healthcare workers and ICUs across the country are overwhelmed. Healthcare specialists warned weeks in advance that this fourth wave will hit Romania hard.

Romania is now trying to weather a perfect storm. The fourth wave is the country's deadliest by far because Romania has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the EU.

Romania was the first in the EU to lift restrictions and relax other measures - but next-to-last in terms of vaccination rates. The plummeting vaccine interest in Romania comes from a long-standing mistrust in authorities, which the ongoing political crisis can only exacerbate.

The macabre scenes from past days with town halls across the country using excavators to dig burial plots for recently Covid deceased, as cemeteries and undertakers can no longer cope with the large number of dead, led to a surge in the number of those wanting to vaccinate.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria has also broken its previous record for daily Covid-19 deaths. Over a period of 24 hours on Tuesday (2 November), 310 people died in Bulgaria (in comparison to Romania's record 591.)

Bulgaria is the least-vaccinated country in the EU.

Similar to Romania, more than 90 percent of patients hospitalised for Covid-19 are not vaccinated. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reported that just 25.5 percent of Bulgaria's adults are fully-vaccinated, lower that Romania's 37.2 percent. This is far below the EU average of 75 percent.

Bulgaria, with the second-highest mortality rate after Romania, has also been plagued by fake news and medical specialists calling for people not to vaccinate.

One such example is Bulgarian infectious disease expert, Atanas Mangarov. Mangarov, head of a Covid-19 care unit at a Sofia hospital, insists mask-wearing and vaccines are not necessary and promotes herbal teas as a treatment.

Meanwhile, Bulgarian hospitals are overwhelmed, with Covid patient sent abroad for treatment.

Neighbouring Romania is also looking for help abroad, activating EU's Civil Protection Mechanism.

In a statement, the European Commission announced it was sending medical supplies.

In addition to help coming from Austria, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and Poland, non-EU member states like Moldova and Serbia also sent in assistance.

Author bio

Cristian Gherasim is a freelance journalist contributing to EUobserver, Euronews, EU Reporter, Katoikos, Von Mises Institute, and bne IntelliNews, with a particular focus on European and regional affairs.

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