Székelyudvarhely might be placed under lockdown

One of the cities in Szeklerland, Székelyudvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc) might be placed under lockdown after the government instructed the Hargita County Public Health Directorate to closely investigate the epidemiological situation in the city, Hungarian news portal from Romania, Székelyhon.ro reports. Presumably, severe restrictive measures will be introduced in the city as the infection rate is higher than 8 for days. The new city administration, the management of the hospital and the representatives of the business sector had talked about the epidemiological situation and measures taken to curb the spread of the virus at a press conference on Thursday.

The worsened situation in Székelyudvarhely was discussed on a governmental press conference on Wednesday evening, at which Raed Arafat, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Home Affairs and head of the Department for Emergency Situations (DSU) mentioned that in some regions, despite the high infection rate, quarantine is reluctantly ordered. When Prime Minister Ludovic Orban asked for an example, Raed Arafat mentioned Székelyudvarhely. On the following day, the government has instructed in writing the Hargita County Health Directorate to investigate the situation and take the necessary steps.

Árpád Gálfi the mayor of Székelyudvarhely
Árpád Gálfi, the mayor of Székelyudvarhely. Photo: Gálfi Árpád Polgármester Facebook Page

Based on what was said at the government meeting, the city mayor, Árpád Gálfi said at the press conference that it can be expected that the city will be completely quarantined. In order to avoid lockdown, and the aggravation of the epidemiological situation, he asked the locals to comply with the rules and comply with the strict safety measures that might be adopted. “I believe that our community will responsibly and with discipline achive to overcome this unfortunate situation with the least possible losses,” Mayor Árpád Gálfi said. The mayor also pointed out that the city management is working together with the hospital in order to prioritize the necessary developments.

Staff and equipment expansion is needed in the hospital

Antal Lukács, the director of the Székelyudvarhely City Hospital, said at the press conference that after buying another PCR machine, the testing capacity of the institute had quadrupled and also has qualified staff to use these. The number of the laboratory technicians which will grow from five to six in the next couple of days, he added. However, another PCR machine as well as an automated accessory to the machine is also needed, the hospital manager stressed.

Antal Lukács said that the staff of the hospital was increased by 60 last week, but another 25 recruitments would be needed to replace staff lost due to illness or quarantine, and the staff of the hospital’s unit in Székelykeresztúr (Cristuru Secuiesc) also needs to be increased. From the medical personnel 92 are currently not able to work: A part of them are infected with coronavirus, but the majority are contact persons, said Csaba Lőrinczi, the medical director of the hospital at the press event. At the moment, 130 COVID-19 patients are treated in the hospital, 9 of them in intensive care units, while 8 need respiratory support, the doctor added.

Antal Lukács the director of the Székelyudvarhely City Hospital
Antal Lukács, the director of the Székelyudvarhely City Hospital. Photo: Gálfi Árpád Polgármester Facebook Page

Antal Lukács also explained that the city hospital has 527 beds, but due to the different routes for patients, placement by gender, and the separate placement of infected people, persons suspected of being infected and uninfected patients, just over half of the beds can be used. However, a building used by a private laboratory in the hospital became available, and thanks to the offer of Saint Pio Fundation, 10 special container complexes, each with 5-6 beds, will be set up in the yard of the hospital. These are all parts of plan B, as it is the development of a new section with 48-50 beds in the Székelykeresztúr hospital.

Antal Lukács, the director of the Székelyudvarhely City Hospital also stressed that patients should go to their family doctors if they notice any symptoms, not to run to the ER immediately.

The local entrepreneurs, grouped around the Saint Pio Fundation, raised more than RON 1,1 million (EUR 225,000) in the beginning of the epidemic and previously purchased three ventilators. Of the nearly RON 600,000 left, two important purchases have recently been launched, Lehel András, the representative of the business sector said at the press conference. The entrepreneur said that one of these purchases is a plasmapheresis machine for the plasma treatment of patients with severe coronavirus.

Researchers: The virus that spreads in Romania is mutated

According to the researchers of the OncoGen medical research center in Temesvár (Timișoara), the virus that is spreading in Romania now is not the coronavirus that started its conquest in Wuhan at the end of last year, but a mutated one that has completely different properties than the original pathogen, főtér.ro reports.

The researchers studied the heredity material of 112 virus samples, and came to the conclusion that Romania also belongs to the area – with the other European countries and the USA – where this new version of coronavirus is present. This pathogen is spreading much faster, but it is less likely to cause fatal infection.

Virgil Păunescu the manager of the OncoGen
Virgil Păunescu, the manager of the OncoGen medical research center. Photo: Facebook/Virgil Păunescu

According to Virgil Păunescu, the manager of the research centre, the vice-president of the Academy of Medical Sciences of Romania said that this mutated virus, compared to the “original” one, is more aggressive, so it is easier to be detected in testings. However, it is not as severe and less likely to cause death.

In the last couple of days, Romania faced new negative records in the number of new coronavirus cases registered in a single day: From Wednesday to Thursday 6,481, from Thursday to Friday 6,546 new infections were registers, bringing the total number of infections to 2351586. Of those, 167,897 have been declared fully recovered, while 10,975 people are currently being treated in the hospital and 868 people are in intensive care.

Title image: As the infection rate was higher than 8 for a couple of days, Székelyudvarhely might be placed under lockdown. Photo: mapio.net

Author: Orsi Sarány