Coronavirus Chronicle in Moldova: State of Emergency Extended

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The epidemiological situation has stabilized a bit in recent weeks. However, the emergence of a new, potentially even more dangerous strain of COVID-19 in conditions of insufficient population vaccination and easing quarantine measures promises a difficult winter for the country
Last week, for the first time since October, a 5% decrease in the incidence of coronavirus was recorded in the world. However, the week, apparently, will catch up with the rates. As before, the biggest number of infected people is in the United States – over 100 thousand per day, and Russia is the leader in mortality: since November 9, more than 1.2 thousand patients die in the country per day. The highest rates of coronavirus spread continue to be recorded in Europe: it accounts for 70% of all new cases. According to WHO statistics, the incidence on the continent has increased by almost a third compared to the peak in November 2020, and the saltatory growth has been going on for 9 weeks in a row. Switzerland has become the 40th country in the world where more than 1 million people have been infected with the coronavirus during the pandemic – the country’s current rates are close to last year’s. In Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic, the situation is no better. The daily increase in incidence reaches record-high numbers, 1.5-2 times higher than the previous maximums in November-December 2020. Against this background, the detection and spread of a new strain looks like a claim for another powerful wave of a pandemic. The World Health Organization does not yet have accurate data on whether this strain is more contagious and dangerous than the others, as well as on its resistance to vaccine immunity. At the same time, the probability of omicron spread at the global level is estimated as high. The new strain has already been detected in at least 23 countries. WHO experts draw attention to the increased risk of infection with omicron in COVID-19 patients and young people of 20-30. The head of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, expressed concern about the new strain, specifying that it could be comparable to Ebola in terms of gravity. “Most of all, I fear that this strain may become as contagious as delta and as dangerous as Ebola,” the expert stressed. At the same time, WHO head Tedros Ghebreyesus asks not to panic because of omicron. In his opinion, some countries impose too serious restrictions that are unnecessary. “I perfectly understand the desire of all countries to protect their citizens from the new strain, which we have not yet fully examined. But I am also concerned that some countries are taking too drastic measures, the effectiveness of which has not been proven and which only increase injustice,” the head of the WHO stressed. Ghebreyesus, particularly, criticized the decision of some countries to close borders for entry from Botswana and South Africa. Nevertheless, WHO itself has updated the recommendations on international travel and suggests that people over 60 years of age, as well as people with concomitant diseases such as diabetes or cancer, refrain from traveling. It is still unknown whether the new strain has reached Moldova. The country lacks the necessary reagents for analysis, so samples of doubtful tests will be sent to Germany. At the moment, according to the Secretary of State of the Health Ministry Svetlana Nicolaescu, no cases of suspected infection with a new strain have been registered in the country. However, as a precaution, the National Public Health Emergency Commission has tightened the rules for entry from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini and Malawi. The epidemiological situation in Moldova as a whole has recently slightly stabilized – the rates of morbidity and mortality have decreased. On the other hand, it’s obviously too early to breath out. Therefore, the health state of emergency has been extended until January 15, 2022. Experts believe that the fifth wave of coronavirus will cover Moldova sooner than everyone expects. This is due to the low level of vaccination (27%) and the weakening of sanitary measures after lowering the hazard code to orange. Unfortunately, the continuing low rates of vaccination is not surprising. The not so high public confidence (if there is any) is undermined by stories about how children are injected not with Pfizer, the only drug allowed for the immunization of children, but with another vaccine. The comments of the authorities on this matter only make it worse. “These situations have been studied, but there are no explanations,” that’s all they say in the Health Ministry. Another pressing issue on the eve of the inevitable wave remains the work of the COVID center at Moldexpo. Most of the patients were treated there. A special group is currently studying the center's work organization and will decide how it will be involved in the future. Experts are convinced that if this medical facility is closed, hospitals will not cope with the influx of patients. For the record: In Moldova, COVID-19 was diagnosed in 365 thousand residents, 9162 of them died.