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Finally, Some Measures, Yet Still Far too Little

At least now that the official results for the local elections were released this week, the authorities started implementing some measures meant to get the COVID-19 situation back under control. But they waited far too long, the number of confirmed daily cases having doubled over the past couple of weeks, the number of people in intensive care also steadily increasing and new records of daily deaths also being reported earlier this week. In some cities, including Bucharest, there’s no room left in intensive care and very little room for other cases that should also be hospitalized, at least temporarily, with patients needing to be moved elsewhere, which is a trip that those in critical condition may not survive. And, of course, the situation will continue to worsen, the effects of any measures likely to only be seen in a week or two.
There’s little reason to hope that those effects will be significant, however. Other countries have started to wake up, taking harsher measures and even declaring the state of emergency and enforcing lockdowns once again, but over here the measures taken are still weak and implemented in a decentralized manner, with the central authorities only deciding what the local ones may implement if the number of cases is high, so a maximum threshold instead of the minimum one. And that maximum threshold is still far too little, closing indoor spaces again for restaurants and theaters, and even there having exceptions for private events with a certain maximum number of people, closing casinos and slot machines, stopping religious pilgrimages, mainly referring to St. Parascheva’s, but still allowing locals to attend, recommending masks to be worn at all times even when outdoors, but only actually requiring it in certain crowded spaces, like farmers’ markets, and possibly also around schools and maybe public institutions, and stating that law enforcement should be more active and thorough when checking that the basic measures are respected, including by using plainclothes officers.
It was just this afternoon that a first city, Bacau, announced that as of Monday all schools will be closed and masks will be required to be worn at all times even outdoors. On the other hand, also this afternoon, the President again said that he does not intend to declare the state of emergency again, also that children need to go to school and schools in general shouldn’t be closed, and that leaving the decision regarding imposing additional restrictions to the local authorities from the places where the number of cases exceeds certain thresholds is the right thing to do. He also repeated that, in general, the basic measures of wearing masks, keeping the distance and washing hands should be enough, and recommended wearing a mask everywhere, but stressed that it was only a personal recommendation.
Admittedly, if everyone would respect them, those basic measures would go a long way, and if those “allowed” additional ones would be implemented everywhere, things would improve even further, but a simple look outside, plus various news reports, prove that to hardly be the case and the situation is already out of control, so there’s no time to wait. Just going on the current numbers, the health system will become completely unable to cope a week from now, which is too little time to turn things around even if a full lockdown would be declared today. But if, and since, it’s not, the situation will become even more desperate and we’re easily looking at over 10000 confirmed cases and hundreds of deaths per day, possibly even over 1000 at this rate, especially since the flu season is also starting and that will complicate matters even further. But let’s see if anything will change next week, after the number of confirmed cases in Bucharest over the past two weeks will exceed that threshold of three per 1000, which the current regulations state should lead to closing schools and even allow for a local quarantine…


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