Far-right protesters in Romania reject virus restrictions – WSOC TV
BUCHAREST, Romania – (AP) – More than 5,000 far-right protesters marched through the Romanian capital of Bucharest on Saturday to reject upcoming new restrictions which authorities say will help tackle an alarming wave of infections in the COVID-19.
Daily COVID-19 infections in the country of 19 million people in the European Union fell from around 1,000 daily cases a month ago to 12,590 new cases on Saturday. This is the highest daily number of infections in Romania since the start of the pandemic.
The increase is putting hospitals across the country under serious pressure as intensive care units reach near capacity nationwide.
Authorities have said new restrictions will be implemented when an area’s infection rate exceeds 6 per 1,000 residents over a 14-day period. Bucharest’s infection rate on Saturday was over 8 per 1,000 residents.
The walkers, most of them without masks, blocked traffic, honked their horns and chanted “Freedom!” A sign read: “Green certificates = dictatorship”. The demonstration was organized by the Romanian far-right party AUR.
The new restrictions – which are expected to take effect in the coming days – will require people to wear masks in public and close shops at 10 p.m.
The protest angered some medical workers.
Beatrice Mahler, director of the hospital of the Marius Nasta Institute of Pulmonology in Bucharest, said the protesters on Saturday “felt that their right to ‘freedom’ is above our right to health.”
“The situation in hospitals is serious,” she told The Associated Press. “We have patients hospitalized in beds in the hallway – all with extremely severe forms of COVID-19. “
The protest came a day after a deadly fire raged through an intensive care unit in a hospital in the Romanian port city of Constanta, killing seven patients with COVID-19. The cause of Friday’s fire is not yet known, but President Klaus Ioannis said Romania had “failed in its fundamental mission to protect its citizens”.
The pandemic has highlighted the poor state of the overloaded Romanian health system. The Eastern European country has the lowest health spending of the 27 EU countries relative to GDP, at 5.2%, compared to an average of 10% for the bloc.
Romania has only fully vaccinated 33.5% of all adults, making it the second least vaccinated EU country after Bulgaria. It has seen more than 37,390 confirmed deaths from the virus.
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