Romania’s harsh measures are keeping infection rates low, but can it face the longterm effects?
Studying abroad is difficult. Every day you learn another thing you were oblivious to or nod along in conversations you don’t fully get. I knew it would be challenging. And I didn’t mind.
But living abroad during a pandemic is a different story with more to care for and anxiety levels going through the roof sometimes.
Romania closed schools in early March and this could be why figures are still low. As of this morning, there are 2738 cases of Covid-19 sufferers and 94 deaths in Romania. The first positive coronavirus case was confirmed on 26 February, 2 days earlier than the first one in the UK.
These figures could be low due to lack of testing in poorer areas as well. There is also a harmful mindset back home, which prevents people from reporting symptoms for fear of stigma.
A Digi24 news report from 2 weeks ago says that the number of coronavirus tests performed in one day has increased by 3000. The Romanian government seems to be vigilant too, having bought extra medical equipment from South Korea.
Meanwhile, medics in rural areas still lack the adequate protection. Emilia Petrișor, my 68-year-old grandma, who works full-time on the frontline, says that her practice is only supplied with disinfectants and masks. She also shared her concern that young sufferers may be prioritised, as there aren’t enough ventilators.
Diandra Dicu, from Constanța, is in lockdown here in Leeds and told me about her disappointment at how Romania is dealing with the outbreak. “The measures are aggressive and out of control. It feels like they use the situation to raise money from fines. I think the UK government takes better care of its people.”
Eusebiu Gherghina, from Târgoviște, however, says that “Romania took action quickly and efficiently” but finds it “hard to see how they’ll manage over a longer period of time”.
Both of them are happy to stay in lockdown in the UK rather than posing a risk to their families by returning home. And so am I.