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Tuesday 23 November 2021 - 20:41

Bodies 'Pile Up' in Romanian Morgues As Europe's COVID Crisis Worsens

Story Code : 965133
Bodies
Europe's lethal fourth wave has been wreaking havoc for weeks now, with authorities bracing for a horrifying COVID-19 death toll surge across the continent in the months ahead, NZ Herald reported.
 
So far, a string of nations, including Austria, Germany, Greece and the Netherlands, have introduced strict new measures in a desperate attempt to stop the spread.
 
And now it seems yet another country is emerging as a COVID epicenter.
 
Romania is also in the grip of the fourth wave engulfing the continent, with cases soaring and the health system buckling under the pressure.
 
The situation facing the eastern European country is now so dire that CNN reports bodies have started to "pile up", with morgues and hospitals overflowing with patients and casualties.
 
And the crisis has been made worse by Romania's shockingly low vaccination rate as misinformation abounds.
 
Romania has a population of around 19 million, but according to Reuters, just 37 per cent are fully vaccinated, despite jabs being available for almost one year now.
 
That grim number means Romania has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Europe, thanks to especially high levels of vaccine hesitancy, misinformation and superstition, as well as strong distrust of the government.
 
Many high-profile Romanians, including religious leaders, have publicly condemned the vaccination campaign – with several labelling it the work of the "Devil" – and anti-vax lies and distortions have also run rampant on social media.
 
Vaccine hesitancy has been found to be especially high in former Communist nations across eastern Europe, including Romania and nearby Bulgaria, believed to be due to the historic mistrust in authority the system spawned.
 
One high-profile vaccine critic, Diana Sosoaca – a member of Romania's Senate – recently tried to stop members of the public from entering a vaccination clinic, with a clip of the stunt posted to her Facebook page as she declared: "If you love your children, stop the vaccinations. Don't kill them."
 
Another anti-vax leader is the influential Bishop Ambrose of Giurgiu, who told the faithful "don't rush to get vaccinated" in mid-October, sparking a police investigation into his misinformation push.
 
A CNN team recently visited the capital's Bucharest University Hospital morgue, revealing that while it had capacity to house 15 bodies, it had received 41 on the day reporters visited.
 
As a result, bodies had been placed in the corridors outside the morgue as the facility's staff struggled to cope, with just one intensive care bed remaining as Covid patients flood the health system.
 
"I never thought such a catastrophe could happen, that we'd end up sending whole families to their graves," nurse Claudiu Ionita said.
 
It's a situation that has been steadily worsening for weeks now, with the BBC reporting in October that some Romanian COVID patients were now being transferred to hospitals in neighbouring nations.
 
"Sometimes I feel like the whole country has become a resuscitation department," Dorel Sandesc, head of intensive care at Timisoara hospital in western Romania, said at the time.
 
Dr Sandesc also slammed Romania's staggeringly low vaccination rate and the misinformation that had fuelled it.
 
"It is a national failure on all levels," he said.
 
"We are witnessing a kind of national blindness, caused by the lack of education, by the lack of civilization."
 
Earlier this month, COVID deaths were soaring and a person in Romania was dying every five minutes.
 
Romania's health ministry has revealed more than 90 per cent of those who have died from COVID were unvaccinated, with older people most at risk of death – but also the least likely to get the vaccine.
 
Dr Anca Streinu-Cerce, from Bucharest's Bals National Institute, recently compared the crisis to a war, telling The New York Times doctors were exhausted.
 
"This wave is far worse than the others … We go into our wards but don't know when we will come out," Streinu-Cerce said, adding that the worst part was that the tragedy was almost entirely preventable.
 
"The only real reason anyone is here is because they did not get vaccinated," she said.
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