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Romania’s daily COVID-19 infections double after holiday

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The number of daily COVID-19 infections more than doubled in Romania on Tuesday following an easing of restrictions during the winter holidays, and officials estimate the fifth wave of the pandemic could see twice as many cases as the previous one, according to Reuters. 

Romania is the European Union’s second-least vaccinated state, with roughly 40% of the population fully inoculated amid distrust in state institutions.

New infections in the preceding 24 hours stood at 3,900, more than double Monday’s number, but still far off a record high of 18,863 daily cases seen in October, official data showed. Some 47 people died of the virus within the last 24 hours. With school children now back in class, the number of cases is expected to rise further.

“We will probably witness a more rapid growth of cases around January 15,” Health Minister Alexandru Rafila told private television station Antena 3 on Monday.

“It remains to be seen how many cases we will have in the fifth wave, we estimate a doubling of the number of cases,” added Rafila.

At the height of the fourth wave in late October and November, Romania topped global lists of new coronavirus deaths per million. The pandemic has killed 58,866 people in the country of 20 million so far.

In October, Romanian senators narrowly rejected a bill requiring medical staff, public sector workers and those of large privately-owned firms to carry a COVID-19 health pass which was aimed at boosting vaccine uptake.

Since then, the coalition government has discussed a new bill mandating the health pass for most workers but has yet to decide whether to send it to parliament for approval. In December, protesters backed by an ultranationalist opposition party tried to force their way into parliament in an attempt to prevent such a law from being approved.