The northeastern Romania city of Suceava, the biggest Covid-19 hotspot in the country, was placed under lockdown as 593 Covid-19 infection cases have been reported in the locality, interior affairs minister Marcel Vela announced on Monday evening, March 30.
(Update: a video showing Suceava in the first day of quarantine is available here).
Romania entered on Monday the fourth stage of the Covid-19 pandemic, with 2,109 Covid-19 cases reported across the country.
A third of the total Covid-19 deaths in Romania occurred in Suceava, where 22 people have died by March 29, Radio Europa Libera Romania reported. A total of 65 people have lost their lives because of the Covid-19 infection in Romania by the evening of March 30, the authorities have said.
Alongside Suceava, eight communes in the surrounding area are under lockdown. They are Adancata, Salcea, Ipotesti, Bosanci, Moara, Scheia, Patrauti, and Mitocu Dragomirnei.
For the duration of the lockdown, stipulated in the sixth military ordinance issued since the state of emergency was instated in Romania, all flights, train connections and public transport routes to Suceava, a city of over 100,000 residents, are suspended. The movement inside the city is also banned, and the Police and the Army are checking the access to the quarantined area.
Public transport in the city is suspended. Only the transport of goods and people undertaking economic, defense or public administration activities is allowed.
Health minister Nelu Tataru said that Suceava has been impacted by community transmission of the new coronavirus, against the background of medical errors and faulty local management, while the epidemiological investigations were not carried out properly because of a lack of staff.
“In Suceava, there was an accelerated community transmission, further developed against the background of many infected people and disconnections or errors both medical and of the local management, and against the background of an epidemiological investigation that was not finished, given that most of those who were supposed to undertake it or of those treating cases have been affected,” Tataru told Digi24.ro.
Tataru, who personally went to Suceava to check the situation just before he was appointed as health minister, explained that he found the Suceava Public Health Department without staff and the authorities had to bring in new staff from university clinics in Iasi to restart the epidemiological investigations, which are meant to trace the people who came into contact with those who contracted the Covid-19 infection.
“We have reassembled the teams of the emergency care units and we have requested the testing of all deceased people, even if they had no connection, this is why we have so many Covid-19 positives,” Tataru explained.
The health minister said many deaths were recorded in Suceava after his visit, undertaken last week, before the resignation of his predecessor Victor Costache. He estimated that there are over 1,000 Covid-19 carriers in the city, walking unrestricted, and this is why the city was placed under lockdown.
“The manager made a mistake and a part of what we have there, we have people who did not follow the isolation measures, they walked around without restrictions,” Tataru said.
(Photo: Inquam Photos / Virgil Simionescu)