Romania’s new normality: Makeshift ICUs and overwhelmed medics

By Marcel Gascón

Bucharest, Nov 4 (EFE).- The severe Covid-19 situation in Romania, the second-least vaccinated country in the European Union with a rate below 30%, has led to daily death tolls averaging 400 and is overwhelming the country’s already ill-prepared health system.

Although contagion rates have hit a downward trend in recent days, the figures remain at their highest point since the start of the pandemic and the number of daily deaths have increased 200% in one month.

The University Emergency Hospital in Bucharest, one of the largest and most modern health centers in Romania, has buckled under the weight of the pandemic, which has forced authorities to suspend non-urgent hospitalizations and send patients abroad for treatment.

Not long ago, the reception at the hospital was a simple waiting room but it has since been converted into an improvised ICU to deal with the overflow of Covid-19 patients.

Several days ago, the hospital was forced to set up another triage point in a tent erected outside the hospital.

“It’s a completely abnormal situation, to be outside when it’s 7C,” the hospital’s director Catalin Cirstoiu, told Efe. “A patient needs to be brought inside the hospital.”

Unlike other hospitals, which have devoted themselves entirely to treating Covid patients, the 12-storey University Emergency Hospital still treats other emergencies.

“We function with a hybrid system that’s very difficult to manage, because it means separating suspected positive cases from negative ones,” Cirstoiu added.

The hospital’s staff are dealing with daily hardship, often singing multiple death certificates a day.

“When you have 10 deaths in each department per day, the psychological pressure on the staff is huge.”

The unusually high number of Covid-19 patients with severe respiratory disease means that up to 400 oxygen tanks are working at any given time, which increases the risk of explosions and fires given the excess amounts of the gas in the air.

In the last 14 months, a total of 27 people have died in three different fires at Romanian Covid units. EFE


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