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sâmbătă, 16 octombrie 2021 - 10:54

Romanian hospitals fill up with COVID patients amid widespread vaccine refusal

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Romania has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the European Union (EU) and is bracing for a fourth wave of the pandemic that looks set to overwhelm hospitals where medical staff are already stretched thin, according to Reuters. 

The EU has fully vaccinated 72% of its adult population and Romania has only managed 34%, exposing entrenched distrust in state institutions, misinformation campaigns, poor rural infrastructure and weak vaccine education.

After living through three waves of the COVID-19 pandemic without getting sick, 55-year-old Roxana Pascu thought that she was healthy enough to withstand the virus and decided to turn down the vaccine

Pascu is now one of around 1,040 COVID-19 patients currently in intensive care across Romania where cases have more than doubled over the last week and ICU beds are becoming dangerously scarce.

“I thought that if I made it through three waves without getting infected, I can make it through another one without a vaccine,” Pascu said, her voice so weak that she could barely speak.

The government, which eased restrictions despite low vaccine intake, has missed a goal to vaccinate 10 million people by September, with little over 5 million inoculated. About 40% of medical and school staff were not vaccinated and officials have so far stopped short of making it mandatory.
 
On Wednesday, Romania had only 32 intensive care beds available and was struggling to add more because of staff shortages. Daily infection rates are nearing a record high of over 10,000 and public health officials this month estimated that Romania could see 15,000-20,000 new daily cases in October.
 
Restrictions including weekend curfews are being reintroduced in cities and villages with high case numbers. Schools are increasingly moving online.
 
Along with efforts to find more staff and provide more beds, officials plan to send mobile vaccination units to schools and introduced a lottery with vouchers and cash prizes to boost inoculations.