“Home Quarantine” and Hatred for Diaspora: How Does Moldovan Government (Not) Fight against Coronavirus

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SEMION ALBU The Moldovan government clearly did not pass the first test to fight the new viral disease Coronavirus hysteria, from the beginning of the year gradually covering the entire planet, nevertheless reached Moldova. This was hardly surprising. The more countries infected with the epidemic appeared on the map of Europe, the less was the hope that it would bypass our country. Especially when Italy became the main European focus of the disease with its large army of Moldovan labor migrants. The global pandemic is one of the most serious crises that a country may face in peacetime, and it undoubtedly requires the coordinated and competent efforts of the entire state system. Unfortunately, organization and professionalism are usually not actually about the Moldovan authorities. Therefore, the population was waiting for the attack of coronavirus on our territory with understandable anxiety. Moreover, foreign experts evaluated the country's willingness to fight the new viral infection as extremely low. So, Moldova in the corresponding index compiled by the Global Health Security Index received only 31.1 points out of 100 possible (“below average”), occupying the far-off 120 place caving on many other post-Soviet states. And at the end of last week it became known about the first officially registered case of the disease in the republic. As expected, the virus entered the country with our citizen who returned from Italy. This forced the authorities to seriously mobilize: the government meeting quickly took place under the chairmanship of Ion Chicu, the danger code was raised to “orange”, and President Igor Dodon interrupted his visit to Russia. The country's leadership requested WHO recommendations and also is trying to quickly inform the population about the measures taken by means of media. Of course, the Chicu government is clearly not envied - its predecessors certainly did not face such tasks. On the other hand, it should be noted that the authorities, in fact, failed the first test to combat the new coronavirus. And that's why. During the meeting of  National Emergency Commission for Public Health, Ion Chicu criticized the infected Moldovan citizen, who, in his opinion, showed "complete irresponsibility and endangered the lives of many people." Later it turned out that everything was not quite that way, and the actions of the unfortunate woman did not have malicious intent and she was rather a victim of circumstances - but it was too late. Judging by the comments on social networks, Moldovan society almost in a single rush attacked his compatriot, at best offering to deprive her of citizenship, and at worst - almost to lynch. Thus, the government set the tone for the discussion at the national level, and probably not without intent. After all, behind all the gossip about the motives of the sick, were ignored completely unprofessional actions of the Moldovan government, and especially the Ministry of Health, which were completely unprepared to withstand the epidemic. Firstly, despite the egregious symptoms of the arriving passenger, no action was taken to quarantine the crew members and other passengers of the aircraft, who calmly went home. Only later did the competent authorities begin to identify and contact them, however, limiting themselves only to recommendations to maintain a regime of self-isolation for 14 days without any mechanisms for its control. At the same time, in the official message of the Ministry of Health figured out the wrong flight number that the infected person arrived on. Not surprisingly, Moldovan experts have already criticized the government’s actions, for example, the former Minister of Health Ala Nemerenco. “The Ministry of Health is asking passengers to stay in isolation at home and inform the family doctor, which is an absolutely wrong tactic. Dear colleagues in the ministry, wake up and adopt the tactics of other countries. In particular, Romania, which is nearby. The patient with pneumonia had a cough and other clinical symptoms, so the risk of infection for those who assisted her on the plane, as well as passengers who were close to her for several hours, is very high,” Nemerenco said. By the way, even earlier it became known that about 2 thousand of our citizens concealed that they had returned from cities where cases of infection were recorded, as well as the detection of a coronavirus in Russia from a resident of Moldova who arrived on the Chisinau-Moscow flight on February 24th. All this created favorable ground for rumors that the disease has long been “walking” in the republic while authorities simply hide information. Attempts to blame the Diaspora for everything to hide their own miscalculations do not make grace to government at all, which seems to have decided to block the path for Moldovan labor migrants to their homeland and is preparing an appropriate public background for this. Be that as it may, it is quite obvious that the coronavirus will somehow become a significant factor in Moldavian life for the coming period. And if the authorities do not want to sow panic or lose a lot of political points, they urgently need to make the necessary organizational conclusions from the first experience of combating the epidemic and arm themselves with the best world practices. Fortunately, there is someone to look at. It is another matter that the feeling the Moldovan authorities, whose interests in recent years have not gone beyond the small-town framework of the struggle for power, does not leave the opposition to such a crisis is simply not up to the task. In this case, it remains to hope that they at least have the ability to attract the necessary expert, financial and technical assistance from abroad.