Coronavirus: August may see 1,600 cases a day

From Thursday to Friday, the number of new COVID-19 cases registered in Romania hit a new high of 799, taking the total number of people infected with the virus to 35,802, the Strategic Communication Group announced Friday. In its extraordinary meeting on July 15, due to the significant increase in coronavirus cases and deaths – almost 2000 since March 10 –  the government adopted the decision to extend the state of alert in Romania by another 30 days, starting July 17. The government also adopted the new quarantine law on Thursday.

“We adopted the decision of extending the state of alert for another 30 days. This decision was necessary because the number of new cases and deaths is growing. We won’t introduce new restrictive measures, but we are not able to ease the measures still in place, as we had hoped,” Deputy Prime Minister Raluca Turcan said on Wednesday after the meeting. She also asked the population to comply with the protective measures and pointed out that those who deny the existence of the virus are the ones who blame the government for the increasing number of infected people.

1,600 new cases per day in August?

The number of coronavirus cases reported daily in Romania could reach 1,200 -1,600 in mid-August, according to the document supporting the Government’s decision to extend the state of alert. The document was written by the Technical-Scientific Committee of the National Committee for Emergency Situations.

According to the document, the resumption of economic activity, unrestricted movement between settlements, relaxed discipline of the general population, spread of fake news and the opinions denying the existence or severity of the virus might lead to a sharp rise in infection rates in August.

“Considering the estimated average figures of confirmed cases for the upcoming period and taking into account that the lack of relevant legislation for enforcing measures meant to contain the spread of the infection can speed up its evolution, especially during the summer when tourists overcrowd countrywide, we can expect new cases to double 12-14 days in,” the document says regarding its estimate for the month of August.

It also points out that no scientific data prove that the virus is weakening or that its transmission rate is significantly decreasing, considering the population’s lack of immunity to the infection. According to the Government, the progress reported in controlling the effects of the pandemic in recent weeks is constantly deteriorating and the positive effects achieved so far might disappear.

The opinion of experts is contradictory

Emilian Popovici, the Vice President of the Romanian Epidemiological Society, told Digi24 that if the virus’s reproduction rate remains at the current 1.1 (meaning that a person infected with the coronavirus transmits the disease to another 1.1 persons), the number of new cases per day will reach 1,880 until mid-September and about 1,150 people will be in intensive care instead of the current 250.

“It is really important to raise awareness, and it is very important to follow the protective measures, because this virus does not spare anyone. The current behavior of the population is similar to when someone leaves the door and windows open in their apartment and is amazed and angry because it was robbed,” the expert explained.

However, virologist Géza Molnár, is much more optimistic. According to the expert, the coronavirus pandemic has intensified in some areas of Romania, but this worsening is not affecting the entire county or population. Dr. Molnár expects that the increase in the number of daily infections will subside in two weeks. He also told Digi24 that the restoration of the state of emergency would not stop the increase in cases, but citizens should be more careful.

Romania’s Parliament passes quarantine law

The Senate adopted, after being amended by the Senate’s Legal Committee, the law on quarantine and isolation on Thursday night. The law passed with 115 votes in favor, eight against, and three abstentions. If President Klaus Iohannis promulgates it, the authorities will have a legal basis to hospitalize COVID-19 patients or people suspected of being infected or send them into home isolation or institutionalized quarantine.

The law, submitted by the government last Wednesday, was adopted by the Chamber of Deputies on Friday. However, the Senate Legal Committee “sat” on it for four days, so it passed only Thursday afternoon. According to the committee’s president, Social Democrat politician Robert Cazanciuc, 90 percent of the draft needed to be amended, as the government “completely ignored” citizens’ fundamental rights. Cazanciuc said that in its current form, the legislation is an effective tool for the authorities to stop the epidemic.

Title image: The number of new COVID-19 cases registered in Romania hit a new high of 799. Photo: Getty Images

Author: Orsi Sarány