Raed Arafat: We are now entering a period of coexistence with COVID-19

A few minutes spent in the company of older people could be fatal, as they have the highest risk of contracting COVID-19. So the Orthodox Easter is not the right time to relax lockdown measures, Raed Arafat, chief of the Department for Emergency Situations (DSU), said. “If we don’t obey the rules now, during Easter, after one to two weeks, we’ll have infected patients and casualties,” Arafat commented in an interview with Digi24.

The rising number of coronavirus infections signals that the deadly virus is here to stay, so “we are now entering a period of coexistence with COVID-19,” Arafat added. The problem is that there is no COVID-19 cure, just drugs to help with the symptoms. Scientists are racing to find the best medicine to combat the viral disease, but there is no official treatment yet. Under these circumstances, any measure claiming the worst is over and citizens can finally relax is against the public interest, Arafat said.

Arafat’s comments came hot on the heels of an earlier announcement made by Romanian Minister of the Interior Marcel Vela, which – based on an agreement between his ministry and the Romanian Orthodox Church – relaxed lockdown measures to allow for the free movement of believers during the upcoming Orthodox Easter weekend. The announcement caused an uproar in the country, prompting the minister to retract his original statement and recommend that believers stay home to stop the spread of the virus.

Some estimates claim the epidemic will peak at the end of April, while some put it in May. But Arafat recommends waiting until May, just like other countries, especially as a double-peak scenario is likely. The pandemic is expected to slow down in the coming weeks, but chances are it will peak again in the autumn, Arafat warned. “We have to assume that this is what will happen. We have an obligation to think about this scenario and be better prepared,” he added.

Title image: Raed Arafat. Image source: Arafat’s official Facebook page.

Author: István Fekete