Romania’s 24h/7 national hotline, Tel Verde (Green Line) has answered over 150 000 calls from Romanians asking for the latest information and advice on COVID-19 since it was set up at the end of 27 February.
The hotline employs medical and health experts and receives financing from the World Health Organization which helps with technical assistance, logistical planning and rapid fact-checking.
The hotline for emergency situations was part of Romania’s emergency risk communications plan. It establishes a link between responders and people, understands people’s risk perceptions and concerns and provides public health advice.
The hotline started with five operating lines that were scaled up to 15 within a few days. Since 17 March, the hotline has expanded to 60 lines and has relocated to the press room of the National Arena, the largest football stadium in Romania.
With plans to extend the service to 100 lines, the main challenge is to find sufficient staff, said Florentina Furtunescu of the National Institute of Public Health.
“It is a very demanding activity, given that the average number of calls varies between 40 and 120 calls per phone line….. servicing the hotline is about the hands-on learning of risk communication and improving professional skills.”
Many call the hotline for information about testing activities and where and how they are performed. Others are concerned about measures for those returning from a red or yellow area with higher risks of transmission.
“We are often asked about the mode of transportation from the airport to home isolation, about procedures for repatriation, about locations for self-isolation, or about medical leave certificates or other legal forms,” said Alexandra Cucu, a medic from the National Institute of Public Health.
Green Line responders are trained medical and health care personnel from the National Institute of Public Health, the Ministry of Defense and other partner institutions who bring together extensive expertise from the fields of public health, epidemiology, hygiene, family medicine and psychology.
They are backed up by a support group that helps formulate answers to specific, technically complex questions, in collaboration with other epidemiologists, health promotion specialists, lawyers and scientists.
The Green line number in Romania: 0800 800 358 and outside Romania: +40 21 320 20 20