Mysterious rise of coronavirus in Romania’s southern counties baffles authorities

Authorities are baffled by the recent rise in new coronavirus cases in three counties in southern Romania, with no obvious explanation for the surge in new infections.

The county of Arges, which lies in the foothills of the Carpathian mountains, is of particular concern.

On June 30, Arges had reported a total of 793 cases of coronavirus. A week later, infections had soared to 1,016.

Yet, public health chiefs say there have been no identifiable outbreaks in Arges, so they can’t isolate people. Still, transmission is increasing.

The county, in south-central Romania, is not far from Bucharest, and is a reasonably popular tourist spot. But there is no clear reason for the spike and how it came about. Authorities are searching for ways to deal with the situation and halt the spread of the virus.

Arges prefect Emanuel Soare has appealed to the public to wear masks in public and to avoid crowed places. Police have stepped up checks to make sure people are complying with lockdown rules which include a ban large gatherings.

In the neighboring county of Valcea, which has largely been spared by the four-month pandemic, there were 22 new cases on Monday, a rise of 35%. The total number of infections there is 85, still one of the lowest for any Romanian county.

Even Gorj, a county to the immediate west of Valcea and Arges, saw 24 new cases on Monday, a rise of 9.1%.

„Everything is dispersed in this moment, so it’s more difficult to control and limit the spread of the disease, that’s the difference,” Adriana Pistol, director of the National Center for the Supervision and Control of Transmittable Diseases told Digi24.

„When you can’t find a source, you have to actively look for it. Not by mass testing, but by trying to find people with symptoms through family doctors,” Alexandru Rafila, Romania’s representative at the World Health Organization told the station.

On Monday, Romania had 250 new infections, with just 4,614 tests. Most cases came from Arges, Gorj, and Galati and Vrancea, two counties in eastern Romania.

„In most counties where there is a rise, there are reasons, such as (an outbreak) in an elderly people’s home… in a factory, or in a production unit. We also have areas, such as Arges, where there’s no link to a residential center, to a production unit,” said Pistol. “They seem to be cases dispersed across the county.”

Rafila said that the answer was to „identify all people with the slightest symptom who could be connected to this infection. Family doctors should reach out to patients on their list. In  this way we can find out people who are responsible for spreading the disease.”

He said that cooperation with local authorities was the key, and appealed to authorities to be „empathetic, sincere, and not use slogans.”

„They should explain people that the situation in the county is problematic, and give personal examples, it is very important to try and convince citizens to take preventive measures.”


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