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September 25, 2020
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The Failure of the Romanian Strategy for Combating COVID-19 Pandemic

Lithuania, Finland, Cyprus and even sister country Moldova forbid the entry of Romanian citizens on their territory following the increase of the daily number of COVID-19 cases. Other countries, such as Austria and Greece, ask for negative COVID-19 tests before entering the country, otherwise they are imposed to enter quarantine. There are more than 20 countries which put Romanians on their red lists, including Italy, the former hot area from February and March. All these measures follow the increase of the daily cases of COVID-19 infections in Romania, a country famous for imposing an authoritarian regime during lockdown.

How did the Romanian authorities fail so bad in limiting the spread of the coronavirus?

In February, the Romanian president, Klaus Iohannis told Romanians that COVID-19 is nothing else but a simple cold. Even so, in March, Romania entered mandatory quarantine, all citizens being confined within their own homes. That was a decision taken too late and, combined with the reluctance of the authorities to close the borders or to impose mandatory quarantine for the citizens coming from Italy or Spain, combined with a very low number of daily tests, meant disaster.

During the lockdown, Romania imposed in vain one of the most drastic authoritarian regime, with Romanians fined with up to 4,500 USD for various misdemeanors, such as not having with them a piece of official statement stating why they left their homes. Also, medical authorities imposed compulsory quarantine in hospitals for all those who were named asymptomatic, meaning those having the disease, but no visible symptoms.

The relaxation measures came only after 2 months and Romanians were told, since the very day the relaxation started, to wear medical masks indoors and to avoid the meetings with many persons. Also, the restaurants remained closed, this along other restrictions. This doesn’t help, though, as we can see.

In this context, how come Romania reached second place in Europe by the number of new COVID-19 infections, being second only to Luxembourg? How come Romania registers more than 1,000 new cases a day?

The authorities blame the citizens for not respecting the recommendations. The Romanian Government even budgeted around 50 million EUR for paying the local mass-media for broadcasting or publishing their official messages. All day long, maybe 30-40 times a day, the average Romanian hears or sees official commercials telling the same message: Wear the mask!

On the other hand, the citizens blame the Government for destroying the economy in vain. Close to 1 million Romanians lost their jobs during pandemic and the hospitality industry is close to bankruptcy after being closed for 5 months. Also, citizens blame the Government for imposing such an authoritarian regime during the first 2 months of the pandemic, but with no effect on a long term, as seen now.

Also, the bad examples of the Romanian politicians who didn’t wear masks indoors, as they imposed, might have played their role here:

Romanian PM not wearing mask
Romanian PM and members of the Government not wearing masks indoors

One conclusion is certain: disregard of the approach and despite the fact that behind the high number of COVID-19 cases stand a higher number of tests than before, it is clear the Romanian authorities failed in their attempt to limit the spreading of the novel coronavirus, and the money offered to the Romanian press for supporting the official messages seem more an more like a bribe offered by the governing party before the local elections planned to take place in September. In this context, when the only concern of the Government is the next election round, it is hard to believe the measures taken aimed at limiting the spread of the disease, as they rather aimed at keeping the voting intention for the National Liberal Party.

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