Romania’s government teeters on the brink as Covid-19 gets out of control

As Romania records its highest number of new Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, its government faces two motions of no-confidence.

On the day that Romania began offering a third dose of Covid-19 vaccines, the country recorded 11,049 new cases of coronavirus, the highest number since the pandemic began.

Tough new restrictions, including the closure of schools, cinemas, theatres, and food and drink venues are now likely within days.

The number of people who died with Covid-19 over the previous 24 hours also climbed to a near record high on September 28, to 208. More than 1,200 people are in intensive care, with the country’s hospitals increasingly unable to cope. Countrywide, just 26 places in intensive care remain unoccupied.

Indeed, according to Octavian Jurma, a Romanian scientist, it is the number of hospital admissions and not the number of new cases that is now the country’s biggest problem.

“Ever since the third wave [of Covid-19] the majority of hospitalised patients have needed oxygen. Those in intensive care need high pressure oxygen. In the case of these patients the difference between life and death can be a matter of hours, or even minutes.”

Vaccine hesitancy

Compounding the impact of the fourth wave of the pandemic is Romania’s low rate of vaccination, which remains at well under 30 per cent and is the second lowest in the European Union – only Bulgaria has vaccinated a smaller percentage of its population.

Although the number of people being vaccinated has risen slightly over the past few days, mainly in response to the introduction last week of the requirement for clients of food and drink venues to hold valid EU digital Covid-19 certificates, fewer than 20,000 people per day are getting the jab.

Offers of gift vouchers and other incentives have failed to convince Romanians to overcome their objections to the vaccine.

‘Many lives will be lost’

Vasi Rădulescu, a Romanian doctor who has authored several books promoting good health practice, says that it is now clear that coronavirus will sweep the country and take with it “many lives”.

“And all the while others are waiting to see if there are any adverse reactions to the vaccine. They are waiting for thousands of dead each day, and maybe then they will go and get the vaccine, out of desperation.”

Romania’s government meanwhile is on the verge of collapse.

Already reeling from the resignation last month of ministers belonging to the erstwhile ruling coalition’s junior partner, USR-Plus, Prime Minister Florin Cîțu – who on September 25 won his Liberal party’s leadership contest – now faces two motions of no-confidence, one put forward by USR-Plus, the other by the PSD, the largest party in Romania’s parliament.

A vote on at least one of the motions – which had been held up for three weeks due to the need for Romania’s Constitutional Court to rule on their legality – is likely to take place as soon as October 4.

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