Pandemic-related communications by authorities not clear enough

Nearly six months have passed since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in Romania. As ziare.com news portal pointed out in a summarizing article, the measures taken by the authorities to limit the spread of the infection don’t seem to have had the desired effect.

The first known case of coronavirus was announced on February 26 in Romania; the patient was a 20-year-old man from the southern Romanian county of Gorj. According to the epidemiological investigation, he was infected by an Italian businessman he worked for.

On March 16, the government declared a state of emergency, which was changed to a national state of alert on May 14 and prolonged every 30 days after that. Most recently, on Aug 14, the state of alert was extended again for 30 days.

The first Romanian city to be placed under quarantine was Suceava, in eastern Romania. The city entered into lockdown on April 1, as by that date, 638 cases of coronavirus and 31 coronavirus-related deaths had been registered there. As Health Minister Nelu Tătaru later found out, “a conglomerate of mistakes” had been committed in the Suceava county hospital. For instance, the manager of the hospital had demanded that all medical personnel go back to work, even though some had tested positive for the virus and others had self-isolated due to the suspicion of being infected. As a result, almost the entire staff and several patients got infected with coronavirus, and Minister Tătaru had to replace the entire management of the institution with army officers.

During the state of emergency, the population’s movement was restricted, thus the spread of the virus was contained. While on May 14, there were 245 daily infections reported, as of August 14, the daily number of diagnosed cases went up to 1,415. During the state of alert, most of the epidemiological restrictions have been eased and people are now allowed to move around freely. The mountain and seaside resorts are packed with guests, and many fail to respect social distancing and the basic rules of preventing the spread of the infection, ziare.com reports. With the number of infections soaring, there have been dozens of deaths registered daily these past couple of weeks. Furthermore, the number of patients in need of intensive care is currently close to 500.

As sociologist Vladimir Ionas pointed out to ziare.com, the main problem is that, unfortunately, the messages of the authorities are not clear and coherent enough. That is the reason why more and more people believe more in conspiracy theories than accept the real threat of the pandemic. “Messages regarding administrative measures and rules established to limit the pandemic should be conveyed to the public by a credible person,” emphasized the sociologist. Furthermore, people living with chronic illnesses are probably the most affected by the consequences of the pandemic, as their treatment is still a difficult and delayed process.

Title image: The first coronavirus case was recorded on February 26. Since then, Romania has reached a total of 71,194 confirmed infections. Facemasks are obligatory on public transport and in several counties in crowded public places, such as markets.

Source: digi24.ro

Author: Éva Zay