The quantity of people positively diagnosed for the new coronavirus infection in the world has reached one million people and continues to rapidly grow. The situation with COVID-19 in Moldova raises concerns: the virus has penetrated almost all regions of the country. According to experts, the peak incidence is still to come. The next two weeks will show if the Moldovan state is capable to manage really critical situations.
More than 1 million people worldwide have already been contaminated with the new coronavirus infection, more than 50 thousand cases have been fatal. “Over the past five weeks, we have seen an almost exponential increase in number of new cases of COVID-19 infection that has spread to almost every country,” the World Health Organization stated.
The Republic of Moldova has not unfortunately escaped COVID-19’s swift and deadly statistics. In a week, the number of officially confirmed cases in the country increased almost 3 times: up to 505. The virus has already taken away the lives of 6 Moldovans. Using mathematical models that expertsdeveloped on the basis of other countries’situationdynamicsstudy, we can surely say the real infectioncases numberwith the new coronavirus ranges from 5 to 50 thousand.
At the same time, it is necessary to clearly understand that Moldova is still approaching the peak of the incidence rate. It is not to occur today and not even tomorrow. Over the next weeks, the number of new cases will continue double every few days and only by the end of April the coronavirus wave will finally lay Moldova over.
As to World Health Organization’s representative in Moldova Igor Pocanevici based on the WHO forecasts, Moldova is working on the most pessimistic scenario, when up to 28 thousand people around the countrymight become infected. “Moldova began to prepare two months ago, when cases of infection were noted only in China. Now the moment has come to apply quarantine measures and the authorities did it. The better the measures are applied, the smaller this wave is to be. It is necessary to prepare doctors, equipment, and this is what the government of the Republic of Moldova is actually doing. We are preparing for the worst case scenario,” Igor Pocanevici noted.
One of the authorities’decisions anticipating the load-peak on the healthcare system was creatingadditional quarantine centers for patients with COVID-19 and opening regional laboratories throughout the country.
Isolation today continues to be the most effective way to reduce the virus spreadin the country. In this regard, the authorities do support quarantine measures introduced earlier and in some places strengthen them. So, since April 1, in four previously quarantined places – Balceana, Soroca, Stefan-Voda and Caragasanimeasures have been tightened to control citizens’ movement. Police even uses drones to monitor quarantine compliance.
There are calls for mass testing of the population. In particular, the Party of Action and Solidarity made such a proposal: “Only a few hundred people were tested. Why does this happen if the tests are enough, as authorities claim? If we do not test citizens, we can’t determine the exact number of cases, isolate them, and the virus will continue to spread at a high speed,” the party chairman Maia Sandu said. It’s still difficult to understand to what extent the system is ready for mass testing, since data on the number of tests available in the country were voiced differently by the president and the prime minister.
The decision of the Moldovan authorities to oblige all citizens arriving in the Republic of Moldova to purchase medical policies was the subject of much controversy. On the one hand, this is an obvious attempt to quickly raise funds for a depleted health budget, and on the other, an extraordinary financial burden for people who, for the most part, are left abroad without a livelihood and buy fabulously expensive tickets for charter flights in debt or on credit. There is information that citizens are still forced to sign a declaration of obligation to pay insurance within 72 hours after arriving in Moldova and are threatened with fines of 22.5 thousand lei in case of violation.
Not surprisingly, the decision was harshly criticized. MP Andrian Candu said that it was “unacceptable, unethical and dishonest,” especially for citizens who do not have a permanent residence in Moldova. Maia Sandu even challenged this decision in the Chisinau Appeals Chamber.
The situation with forced unemployment is also escalating. According to some estimates, about 150 thousand people were left without work in the country, that is, every fifth employee in the private sector. In this regard, the authorities in addition to the previously introduced deferrals of income tax payment, a reduction in the VAT rate for the HoReCa sector and a moratorium on all types of state control, introduced reimbursement of part of expenses and taxes in connection with the payment of wages, agricultural subsidies and expanded access to unemployment benefits (including for returning migrants).
In addition to the measures taken, PAS also called to pay part of the salary to employees of private companies who were left without work in connection with quarantine measures. PAS proposes to redirect the funds planned for capital construction and road repair this year.
In general, it is worth noting that opposition has unexpectedly intensified its activities, compared to their silence in recent weeks. Apparently, given the negative epidemiological situation throughout the country, the “Hincesti failure” is not so memorable, and it is time to join the battle for political points on the battlefield with the coronavirus. Moreover, the European Union finally “woke up”, which announced it will allocate 140 million Euros to the Eastern Partnership countries to fight against coronavirus. Of course, everyone understands that the money will come in the form of medical equipment, trainings and grants to public organizations, and not direct tranches to the government. However, this is still better than nothing. In addition, there is information that programs will be launched to help vulnerable people and support small and medium-sized businesses.
Despite the external activity of the authorities, the opposition and even international partners, all the measures and steps taken, unfortunately, give little result in the bottom line. The most pressing problems remain unresolved. Until now, the healthcare system is not provided with necessary equipment, personnel protection equipment, and beds (the situation with the prolonged opening of the quarantine center at Moldexpo site is indicative). It is not clear how the problem of shortage, fatigue and retirement of infected medical workers will be solved. The system has difficulties in managing current 505 cases. I absolutely do not want to predict the chaos that will occur when the number of detected cases reaches 3 thousand forecasted by the authorities, and even more so if the situation moves towards 28 thousand expected by WHO. It is to be hoped that in a severe crisis, all the forces and resources of the state will be correctly mobilized and effectively used.
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