Romania, the east European country managed to take the spread of novel coronavirus under control during the strict two-month lockdown. But cases have jumped since the lockdown was lifted in mid-May. Özge Somlyai-Çakır’s guest was journalist Ionut Iordachescu. He is working for France Press Agency (Agence-France Press or AFP in short), has been reporting from Romania, and covering the pandemic since the beginning.
Iordachescu recently wrote about a few hundred coronasceptics, holding religious icons, the national flag, and signs that read “I believe in GOD not in COVID” protesting in Romania’s capital Bucharest against what they call a “sanitary dictatorship.” In early July, the Constitutional Court in Romania ruled that “mandatory hospitalization, imposed under the two-month state of emergency, violated fundamental rights and was illegal.” Iordachescu underlines that since the Constitutional Court ruling in July, many patients left hospitals even if they tested positive for the virus. Also, since the court ruling, coronasceptics have been coming together and protesting the measures taken against the pandemic frequently.
Doctors in Romania are worried. Iordachescu says that in Romania, it is not common for doctors to speak up and give interviews. But nowadays, “they are more open towards the press, and via the press, to the public,” he says. Doctors are so worried about the coronasceptics and about those who do not keep the physical distance or wear a mask in public space. One of the doctors whom Iordachescu interviewed says, “This war is not going to be won in the hospital but inside communities.”
Iordachescu also emphasizes that Romania’s healthcare system is perceived as one of the most corrupt healthcare system among the European Union (EU) member countries. Since the beginning of the pandemic, doctors and healthcare workers have been worried about how to take the outbreak under control. “Today, there are 277 intensive care patients in Romania and doctors worry that the healthcare system might collapse due to an increase in case numbers,” Iordachescu says. “On paper, Romania has 5 thousand beds in intensive care units (ICU), but in reality, there are about a thousand ICU beds, and only half of them are fully equipped,” he adds.