Coronavirus Chronicle in Moldova: Incidence Is Higher, Restrictions Are Stronger

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The epidemiological situation in Moldova is deteriorating, and the health care system barely manages to respond to new challenges. If the trend is not reversed, the country may face another total lockdown
The World Health Organization states a global decline in the incidence of a new type of coronavirus. Thus, according to the organization, last week recorded an almost 10% decline in cases of infection were detected than in the previous week. In general, the incidence chart has been showing a gradual downward trend since the second half of August: from the summer peak of almost 750 thousand to yesterday's 515 thousand cases. Decreases are being recorded in almost all continents, except for Africa, where there has been a slight increase in the number of new cases. The rate of the disease correlates with the vaccination level of the population. WHO reports that about 50 countries, mostly African, will not be able to vaccinate even a tenth of the population until October and meet the goal set by the World Health Organization to vaccinate at least 10% of the population against coronavirus by the end of September. At the same time, 90% of rich countries have accomplished that. Recall that WHO has set the task for the world to vaccinate 10% of the population of each country by the end of this September, 40% by the end of 2021 and 70% by the middle of next year. Not only morbidity but also mortality is decreasing around the globe. The figures show a 7% weekly decline. Notably, the United States and Russia were the “leaders” in terms of the number of new deaths last week, with almost 13 thousand and 5.5 thousand deaths respectively. Against this backdrop, US President Joe Biden, during the 76th annual session of the UN General Assembly, called on the world community to jointly prepare for the next pandemic. The American politician told that today all countries of the world are faced with a choice: “Will we work together to save lives, defeat COVID-19 everywhere, and take the necessary steps to prepare ourselves for the next pandemic? For there will be another one. Or will we fail to harness the tools at our disposal as the more virulent and dangerous variants take hold?” Contrary to the optimistic world statistics, the situation in our republic is deteriorating rather quickly. Due to the current morbidity dynamics, Moldova has already been removed from the list of countries from which non-essential travel to the European Union is allowed. The number of new cases doubled last week, compared to the previous one, and approached the 7 thousand mark. A local peak was observed on Wednesday, September 22, when 1,371 cases were detected per day. In total, at the moment, there are 286.5 thousand reported cases in the country, of which 6649 died. Doctors are sounding the alarm: the intensive care units are again overwhelmed. There is another problem - some hospitals are lacking drugs to treat patients with COVID due to the failure to envisage the increase in patient costs in the contracts concluded by the hospitals with the National Health Insurance Company. “The current situation is that each vacated bed in the intensive care units is occupied by another hospitalized patient in half an hour. The sad truth that we face in intensive care units is that the disease is increasing in young adults. Unfortunately, age is no longer a protective factor, there were patients aged 30-40 who we lost because of this new strain, which is extremely aggressive,” says Ion Cîvîrjîc, head of the intensive care unit of the Institute of Emergency Medicine. According to experts, if the number of infections is high and the vaccination rate is low, the partial or even general quarantine may be required to prevent the medical system from collapsing. “If the forecasts of 3,000 cases per day are confirmed, the medical system will not be able to manage the situation and it will be necessary to impose a quarantine to unload the medical system. Unfortunately, in our country 70% of the population does not comply with any measures and does not want to be immunized. It is alarming that children are also part of this epidemic process now, and the new Delta strain is much more infectious, more aggressive and affects everyone,” says epidemiologist Angela Paraschiv. The vast majority (99%) of those hospitalized with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID are unvaccinated. According to official figures, the national coverage with a first dose of vaccine is 23.07%, and only 22% have completed the 2-dose course. In response to the worsening epidemiological situation, the National Emergency Commission on Public Health announced new anti-coronavirus measures from October 1. The new restrictions will be applied differently for each community, depending on the assigned danger level. This refers, in particular, to the mandatory COVID-19 certificates for most types of activities (which has already resulted in 20 teachers quitting their jobs), reducing the number of passengers in public transport, organizing remote work. Education in schools will take place with the physical presence of students, and universities are encouraged to shift to online activities. We will see how the situation will unfold, but it is already obvious that if vaccination is not accelerated in the country, the 3,000 cases per day predicted by experts will become a reality, with a new total lockdown as the only response.