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3,19 PER 1000 RESIDENTS - THE INFECTION RATE IN BUCHARESTBucharest, code red

GEORGE MARINESCU
Ziarul BURSA #English Section /

Closed schools, online "education", HoReCa nearly collapsing, the mandatory mask wearing in all public spaces. These are the consequences of the infection index of 3.19 per thousand, combined over the last 14 days, based on which the members of the Emergency Situations Committee of Bucharest have made the decision of tightening the restrictive and protective measures for Bucharest and the entities in town. On top of that there is a positive rate nationwide, which in just 24 hours has exceeded 30% (30.67%), which means one third of those tested have been found as being infected with Sars-Cov 2 in 24 hours.

The decision to tighten the restrictions could have been made Sunday night, the first day when the index passed 3/1000, but the members of the CSUMB could no be contacted by the Prefecture of Bucharest, and prefect Cojan was on holiday. Sunday's situation is similar to one where policemen uncovered a driver which has an alcoholemia of 3 /1000 but they would still allow him to keep driving, and waiting to see if the next time he gets pulled over, his alcoholemia were confirmed.

The authorities' reaction is one that is delayed, but that no longer surprises anybody in the electoral year we are crossing. Even though the premise for imposing harsher restrictions already existed, the political decision makers in Bucharest chose to hold on to the exceeding of the 3/1000 index before acting in accordance with the provisions of the law concerning the state of alert and the subsequent government decision. Thus, for an entire week, the illegal parties have continued in various areas in Herăstrău and the Old Center, perturbed here and there by policemen, in the morning hours, which led to the constant increase in the number of cases, reflected in the end in the exceeding of the 3/1000 infection rate, which brings us to the code red of the epidemic.

The delayed reaction of the authorities has caused the elected mayor of district 3, Robert Negoiţă, to ask PM Ludovic Orban to replace the current prefect of Bucharest, Gheorghe Cojanu, whom he is criticizing for his "mind numbing statements" about the infection rate in Bucharest.

"The infection rate per mille has surpassed the red threshold level. The government is announcing the harshest sanctions since the pandemic arrived, our children are saying goodbye from colleagues and entering the online scenario. Well, during all this time, the representative of the Government in Bucharest, prefect Gheorghe Cojan, is going around shopping and without a clue about his role. Unfortunately for us, his role these days concerns our lives, that of the residents of Bucharest. The man is looking at us confused with his shopping bags in his hands and tells us that he doesn't know anything, nor about the infection rate, nor about the emergency measures, nor about the red scenario, because it is Sunday and he has other concerns, during the pandemic, going shopping and is asking us to sit tight until the next day, when he finally gets clear on what the deal is with the pandemic and with that pesky Covid that, has also ruined his plans for a holiday, in October", said Robert Negoiţă.

According to government sources quoted by the media, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban allegedly fired the prefect of Bucharest, Gheorghe Cojanu, yesterday, but for the decision to be official, it must be approved in the government meeting that will take place in the coming days.

Following yesterday's meeting, CSUMB has decided, for 14 days, starting today, the application of the following measures:

- the requirement to wear protective masks in every public area for everyone above 5 years old;

- activity with the public of the economic operators that prepare, sell and allow consumption of foods and/or alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, like restaurants and cafes, is prohibited indoors;

- the activity of cafes and restaurants inside hotels, hostels and other accommodation units is only allowed for guests of those establishments;

- activity with the public of the gambling entities is forbidden;

- cinemas, theaters and concerts are banned;

- face to face education in schools and high-schools, including day nurseries and universities is suspended, with the classes to be held exclusively online.

The decision to shut down education institutions has messed up the daily activity of parents, as many found themselves forced to stay at home with the children, starting today, and be paid over the next two weeks at just 75% of the wage they would have made, based on the normative acts of the Government.

Concerning the situation of the people infected with Sars-Cov 2, experts claim that this week as well we will see an increase, including of the index and positive rate, as the tightening of the restriction measures will only produce effects ten days after their application.

"The risk of an increase in the number of infections still exists, and not just in Romania. The biggest problem that we are facing is the fact that we have a large number of cases recorded in a very short period of time. (...) For those patients it is very hard to conduct an evaluation, to find slots for hospitalization, especially since we are talking about a map of Romania with red areas, where Bucharest comes first", said doctor Adrian Marinescu, primary doctor of Infectious Diseases at Matei Balş, coordinator of the HIV AIDS program.

Concerning the number of slots available, the prefect of Bucharest recently decided that the Colentina hospital would go back to becoming a supporting hospital for Covid-19 patients.

This seems to have made some people from that hospital unhappy. In the beginning of October, Ph. D. Sabina Zurac, head of the Pathological Anatomy Division of the Colentina Clinical Hospital resigned from her position as medical director.

Sources from Colentina, quoted by ziare.com, are saying, however, that in the current situation several doctors want to resign, because they cannot treat their patients across various specializations.

Covid-19 hospitals in Bucharest - Matei Balş, Victor Babeş, Marius Nasta - have their intensive care units filled with patients and have an urgent need for them to be taken over by support hospitals.

Yesterday, in the intensive care units across the country, 757 patients with Covid-19 were hospitalized, when only 1048 beds are available for Intensive Care for treating Covid-19 cases, of which 981 for adults and 67 for children.

Craiova also entered the red scenario, after the 14-day combined number of infections passed 3 per mille.

There hasn't been any coherent plan in Bucharest, clearly communicated, so that the population would be ready, even though the number of cases in Bucharest has increased daily, said Klaus Iohannis in the press conference held at Cotroceni.

"Bucharest is in the red scenario, other counties are very close, and once that threshold is exceeded the need for new restrictions is obvious. The government has set the methodology and the measures specific to every scenario, and the local authorities have the responsibility to implement them. (...) The attitude of the prefect of Bucharest and the manner in which he reacted are unacceptable and they should not remain without consequences", said Klaus Iohannis.

He further said that the pressure on hospitals has increased to huge levels, that this thing cannot go on anymore and that decisive action is needed to reduce the burden for the medical system.

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