UPDATE. Coronavirus: 260 people infected in Romania; fears of fresh infections rise as 1000s of Romanians return from high-risk zones in western Europe

Romanian authorities said Wednesday that the total of new coronavirus case had risen to 260, with 49 people testing positive in the last 24 hours.

The Strategic Communication Group said the most recent cases were scattered around the country and infected people were aged 1 to 72. They have been hospitalized, placed in institutionalized quarantine or are in self-isolation at home.

The latest figures came as fears escalated about a potential spike in the number of cases as thousands of Romanians returned to the country overnight from high-risk zones in western Europe.

Most of the cases were people who had traveled to Italy, Spain and Great Britain or come into contact with people who’d been to those countries. Nineteen people have recovered.

In a bid to slow the spread of the virus, Interior Minister Marcel Vela late Tuesday announced sweeping measures, including closing restaurants, bars, clubs, cinemas, malls, betting shops, barbers and hairdressers and cinemas.

Church services and sporting events and some outdoor events would also be suspended starting from Wednesday. Schools have been closed and many people are working from home.

President Klaus Iohannis on Monday decreed a state of emergency to enable authorities to tackle the virus outbreak.

There are currently 3,441 people who are in institutionalized quarantine and a further 23,679 people who are in self-isolation at home and under medical supervision.

Forty-one people face criminal charges for concealing they had the disease or had come into contact with someone with COVID-19.

Border police said some 3,000 Romanians entered Romania via the Hungarian border overnight and there were lines of cars and buses stretching for kilometers waiting to cross the border.  

People were waiting up to three hours to cross the border amid checks as many of them had come from high-risk zones such as Italy.

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