MedLife: Romania could hit 50,000 daily COVID cases in two weeks as Omicron spreads
According to local healthcare group MedLife, Romania’s daily tally of new COVID-19 cases could hit 50,000 in two weeks as the highly transmissible Omicron variant is spreading in the country.
Following the weekly pre-screening evaluation of COVID-19 positive samples, MedLife identified 137 suspected cases of Omicron infection out of 175 samples analyzed. According to the group’s representatives, the number of suspected cases more than doubled in just one week.
“The number of suspicions is more than double (from 35% on the group evaluated last week to 78% on the group studied this week) which confirms, once again, the high transmissibility rate of the new strain. The suspected cases come from: Cluj - 68, Bucharest - 37, Timis - 22 and Brasov - 10. These are to be sequenced over the next week for firm confirmation,” reads the MedLife study released on January 8.
“Two weeks ago, we had no suspicion of infection with the Omicron strain on the batch analyzed at that time, last week more than a third of the samples were suspected and subsequently confirmed by sequencing, and now we have reached almost 80% of the samples with probability of Omicron infection,” said Dumitru Jardan, biologist and doctor of medical sciences, and scientific coordinator of the follow-up study conducted by MedLife.
According to him, the new variant is up to 5 times more transmissible than Delta. Thus, “it is not at all surprising” that Omicron started spreading through community transmission in Romania.
In this context, MedLife representatives estimate a rapid increase in new cases in the near future. Thus, Romania could hit 50,000 daily cases in the following two weeks.
“As we have anticipated since last year, the fifth wave of the pandemic will hit Romania in mid-January, when we will face, again, tens of thousands of infections every day. Basically, the increase we are reporting today is the direct result of the Christmas interactions and the large number of Romanians who returned home for the holidays. We are going to see an even more accelerated growth determined by the New Year’s Eve parties, an increase that will also be supported by the intensification of the school activity,” said Mihai Marcu, CEO and president MedLife Group.
According to estimates quoted by the MedLife CEO, the real number of daily cases could hit a record high of 250,000 in the next two weeks, as the officially reported figures are at least five times lower than the real number of infections.
Mihai Marcu also said that the number of cases could begin to decline at the end of February.
So far, Romania has officially confirmed a total of 295 cases of infection with the new Omicron variant.
At the end of last week, health minister Alexandru Rafila also warned that Omicron has begun spreading through community transmission and said Romania is already in the fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.