Coronavirus Chronicle in Moldova: End of Pandemics?

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The nation’s longest-running public health emergency was lifted today – and all coronavirus restrictions with it
For a few weeks, the coronavirus pandemic was off the front pages giving way to the events in Ukraine. This was also due to the spread of “milder” strains of the virus. In general, there has been a consistent decrease in incidence, except in certain regions where the virus is once again driving people into quarantine. Some experts even talk about the end of the pandemic and the transition of the coronavirus to a seasonal disease. World Health Organization experts are not yet among them. In particular, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, says there is no evidence yet that the virus has “subsided” and will only appear in a purely seasonal and predictable form in the future. According to the expert, the coronavirus is still dangerous and capable of spreading easily when the population’s immunity is weakened and vaccines are poorly effective. “The virus will move into regions where immunity is weakened,” Dr. Ryan explains, “it will ‘lay dormant’ in one such region for several months until another opens up. This is how many viruses, including poliomyelitis, work: they establish themselves in a particular community and quickly move on to another after a while.” WHO expert Dr. Van Kerkhove reminds us that COVID-19 vaccines remain the most effective means to prevent severe disease and death. To date, most deaths occur among the unvaccinated, the elderly and people with comorbidities who have not received a full course of effective vaccines. Therefore, the WHO reminds us that every country needs to emphasize the importance of vaccination. Experts should analyze vaccination rates for the most vulnerable groups, and authorities should ensure that every vulnerable person receives at least two doses of effective vaccines. To date, COVID-19 has already been identified in more than half a billion people, that is, 6.5% of the world’s population, of whom 6.2 million have died. Moldova is now undoubtedly among the regions where the coronavirus is clearly in retreat. For the last two months, the number of new cases has stayed around 200. There are about 1,700 “active” patients, of whom only 258 have been hospitalized. Mortality rates have dropped significantly. According to the National Public Health Agency, almost all of Moldova is within the green level of COVID-19 incidence, except for Balti municipality and Trandsniestria, where the yellow epidemic hazard level persists. Against this background, the Ministry of Health of Moldova proposed to and the Emergency National Commission on Public Health did cancel the previously introduced state of emergency in public health, and all coronavirus restrictions with it. A while ago, in early April, the COVID center at Moldexpo was curtailed following the Cabinet of Ministers’ decision. Chisinau has suspended the activities of the Municipal COVID-19 Vaccination Center and two mobile vaccination services – a trolleybus and a bus. However, the opportunity to get vaccinated still exists. Everyone can do this in the immunization offices and family doctor centers. In total, 1,058,340 people were vaccinated in the republic, about 300 thousand received a booster dose. Thus, the vaccination rate was about 40-45%. Despite the dropping of restrictions, experts urge to stay vigilant, get vaccinated and wear masks in shops and public transport. Thus, the Minister of Health Ala Nemerenco is not ruling out a new wave of the disease, given the observed increase in infections in a number of countries, especially the outbreak in China. New omicron mutations, she said, may be more contagious but less dangerous leading to a mild clinical course of the disease. Summing up the results of our country’s two-year struggle with the coronavirus, only one thing can be unequivocally stated: it was a unique challenge that we coped with. Various decisions were adopted, including tough, unpopular and controversial ones. The economy has been largely affected, while the quality of life of ordinary citizens has reduced. Many died – the pandemic claimed the lives of 11,477 people, among them many health care workers. However, considering that more than half a million people were infected with coronavirus in Moldova, most of the patients were saved and cured – and this is definitely a positive fact, for which we should thank the employees of our healthcare system who in some periods had to work in incredibly difficult conditions.