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New Measures, Missing Measures and Maybe a Call to Action

Last week I was saying that I was putting off a post about the new measures being taken here, and the idea was to post it once the infection rate in Bucharest will exceed the new highest threshold, 7.5, and the measures which currently apply Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as it happens when the infection rate is between 4 and 7.5, will apply all the time. While Timisoara’s situation was also a trigger, the central authorities needing to step in and enforce a temporary quarantine when the local ones rejected it, which made the lack of clear regulations even more obvious, Bucharest seemed to be the main reason why these specific values were chosen, so the new restrictions would apply temporarily at first, the previous ones returning for a few days before the new ones would start applying every day. And, with Bucharest’s infection rate starting the week just above 7, that certainly seemed to be how things were going to go, but it somehow varied only by mere hundredths of a point all week, not even reaching 7.1, and actually reaching the lowest level since March 27, 7.01, today. I’m not sure how that works out, but those are the reported values…
I’d have been tempted to say that, if there is any, shall we say, creative reporting involved, one has to ask what the price for it will turn out to be, calculated in suffering and death. However, seeing as the difference is that stores, except pharmacies and gas stations, need to close at 6 PM and the curfew is 8 PM every day if the infection rate exceeds 7.5 while between 4 and 7.5 that only applies Friday, Saturday and Sunday, otherwise the closing time being 9 PM and the curfew 10 PM, I’m not sure how much of a difference there could be in terms of infections, while the negative impact on stress levels and discontent is obvious. There have been some more significant protests even so, but while at the moment they can and largely should be dismissed as led by those who reject pretty much any measures and attended by plenty who don’t believe the virus exists at all, or at least that it doesn’t pose a real threat, plus some of the usual crowd of troublemakers that were just waiting for an opportunity for violence, the fact remains that it doesn’t seem that such restrictions will help, and in fact they may even harm, the reduced hours increasing crowding. There are disagreements even inside the ruling coalition over this obligation for stores to close at 6 PM, the opposition is challenging it in court and it keeps being questioned by the media as well, including the sources that generally support the parties that are currently in charge, but they claim that “experts” support it and give the example of other countries that have taken similar measures, while at the same time pointing out that they haven’t taken others that said other countries took, and which would be even more restrictive.
Well, some of those more restrictive measures might actually have positive effects… Assuming they’d actually apply, of course, because for example most of the places around Bucharest, and around other major cities as well, are quarantined, but since many people who live there work here, which situation is perhaps even more true for the other major cities, and they’re allowed to travel for work, it doesn’t make much of a difference in terms of mobility, only adding to stress, frustration and discontent. And, either way, such quarantines are hardly the only more restrictive measures that could and, I’d say, should apply.
But what’s probably the first measure that should be taken is one that our authorities still refuse, and that’s widespread testing. I now even have personal experience to confirm that they simply don’t want to know the actual number of infections, not even testing people that are very likely to be infected if they don’t have obvious symptoms, and dad’s situation also showing that they don’t retest people who have symptoms but treat themselves at home, so after two weeks those can also go out again and possibly infect others if they’re still positive. There are some announced changes now, the authorities starting to supply fast antigen tests to pharmacies, which will use them to test people who ask for it, but that still means that people must ask to be tested in such a manner, and most likely pay for it as well, the pharmacies being allowed to charge for this testing despite the fact that the tests will be provided to them for free! It does mean that such tests will be done properly, while people buying such fast tests and doing them at home carries a higher risk of false negative results, and gives another option to those who would want to be tested but would be wary of going to a clinic for it, or live in areas with poor access to actual clinics or hospitals, but those still won’t be PCR tests and, even if we’re to set the accuracy aside, such a project won’t help identify those who don’t care to be tested because they don’t know they’re infected, or because they don’t want to know, or want to avoid having the infection reported and needing to isolate. And, seeing as it most likely won’t be free, the authorities will cover the costs of those tests, the people will still need to pay at least some amount, which definitely shouldn’t happen, and the pharmacies will earn even more, as if they haven’t been pretty much swimming in money for this past year…
At least vaccinations are going well enough, considering what can actually be achieved and comparing with other countries, even though many like to criticize this aspect as well. But it will take a long time for this to truly be a solution even in theory, and since we’re seeing mutations that limit the efficiency already, by the time enough of the population will be vaccinated, new vaccines will be needed anyway. As such, while this does obviously help a great deal when it comes to severe cases and those at risk, and does also limit the spread and the stress on the health system to some extent, it’s not a silver bullet.
Not that anything is likely to be a silver bullet, of course, since it’s highly unlikely that this virus will ever go away, so I’m pretty much sticking to what I was saying just over a year ago: We need a cure! And widespread testing until we have one that is readily available for everyone, everywhere. But the cure should be the real goal, and that’s something I’m still yet to see, and pharmaceutical companies don’t seem to be working on it either. Not that I really expected them to, since if said cure should be readily available and affordable for everyone, everywhere, and it should just be taken for a short time by those with obvious symptoms, they won’t stand to earn much from it, while vaccines that everyone is at least strongly encouraged to have and which will also need to be repeated after a while mean certain profits…
Of course, illness, or even preserving health, should be one of the first things it should be forbidden to make profits from in general, but at least it seems that there are ever more powerful voices demanding a change when it comes to this particular situation, and also petitions, campaigns, a European Citizens’ Initiative, even a statement from the WHO… It remains to be seen whether these initiatives will have any success, and even if they will, it’s quite clear that any suspension of patents will only apply to this particular situation, and possibly for a limited time even in this case, but even the threat of it, if perceived as real and significant, might make those companies be less certain about their future profits if they simply continue down the current path and put more resources into developing an actual cure… Not that the world should rely on the private sector for this, or for any other important service, in the first place, but that’s another discussion which I won’t get into now. This was just meant to be a quick first post of the week, after all, and it grew into something rather different, and even a call to action here at the end.

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