Coronavirus Chronicle in Moldova: On the Verge of New Restrictions

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The COVID-19 incidence in Moldova continues to grow rapidly. At the same time, experts note a decrease in the vaccination rates and a high percentage of severe cases. Neglect of elementary sanitary measures by the population is only making the situation worse
The World Health Organization continues to record a decline in the pace of COVID-19 spread. The average daily increase in cases is currently about 400 thousand people. The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases was 240.5 million people. Experts note that mortality from coronavirus is also decreasing. “The number of weekly reported deaths from COVID-19 continues to decline, and is now at the lowest level in almost a year. But it’s still an unacceptably high level – almost 50,000 deaths a week, and the real number is certainly higher,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. At the same time, mortality rate is decreasing in all regions except Europe, where a number of countries, including Moldova, are facing a new wave of coronavirus. In total, the coronavirus has claimed the lives of 4.9 million people. The epidemiological situation in Moldova remains tense. The daily increase in the number of cases, patients in severe condition and deaths is growing. In total, almost 311 thousand citizens fell ill with COVID-19, of which 7105 people died. Given the current figures, the Ministry of Health is taking the initiative to introduce new restrictions. Today, the National Emergency Commission for Public Health will consider the possibility of introducing measures related to mass events, public transport and certain activities. State Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Svetlana Niсolaescu, explains that new restrictions are needed to prevent a collapse in the medical system, and the main reason is a low immunization level. “We will address the Commission with a proposal to consider an initiative to ensure that only those who have a COVID certificate are accessed to certain types of activities. For example, doctors should be vaccinated or do tests regularly. We do this in order to protect citizens who communicate with such specialists,” the Secretary of State emphasized. The near-term forecasts given by experts are extremely alarming, and, as they say, the only way to overcome the crisis is to immunize the population. According to the Ministry of Health, unvaccinated citizens make up 88% of the total number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and 91% of patients put in intensive care units. However, in recent weeks, there has been a decrease in the vaccination rate. Since the start of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in March, 1.4 million doses of the vaccine have been administered. National coverage of the first injection is about 25%, and of complete vaccination scheme – about 24%. Vaccination with one dose among medical workers is 90%, and complete vaccination scheme – 89%. According to the authorities, this led to an 85% reduction in the incidence among them. The authorities are considering measures to stimulate the immunization of the population. In particular, it was decided to give days off for vaccination as a “carrot” with the preservation of the average salary. For these purposes, the government will even establish compensation off the state budget for employers who provide employees with such an opportunity. As for the medical workers, they got the “stick”. In case of infection at work, unvaccinated health workers will no longer receive a one-time allowance of 16 thousand lei. Moreover, the families of medical workers who died from COVID-19 will not be able to receive a 100 thousand lei compensation if a person has not been vaccinated. “It’s not a requirement, it’s a request. We cannot support the whim of medical staff unwilling to be vaccinated by allowing them to work in the COVID department and paying them taxpayers’ money for sickness benefits. I think we’re actually a bit late. From the moment we started asking teachers to present the COVID-19 certificate, we should have the courage to say this to other employee categories. If one of the medical workers is unwilling to be vaccinated, it casts doubt on their competence”, Health Minister Ala Nemerenco commented on this decision. Every adult citizen is required to carry an identity document, a printed copy of it and a digital one during the entire period of the State of Emergency in the field of healthcare. This obligation is valid in all public places, including public transport. One of the explanations of the authorities is that it is easier to identify violators of sanitary measures this way. It is quite reckless on the part of the authorities to demand that the population follow the established rules, even if deputies at parliamentary meetings – on camera – allow themselves to violate the requirement of mandatory wearing of masks in public spaces. Attention is also drawn to the fact that, as the press secretary of the General Inspectorate of Police Diana Fetсo said, the deputies will not be punished, since they took off their masks for a short time and therefore did not violate anything. At the same time, on Wednesday, the GIP reported that since the beginning of October they have fined about 800 people and establishments – mainly just for violating the mask regime. In such conditions, with the authorities not respecting the rules set by themselves, it is difficult to expect different attitude from the population. This means that forecasts of 3 thousand cases per day – and along with them new restrictions and prohibitions – are getting closer and more realistic every day.